Thursday, January 14, 2021

Earlier this week we had a post about Albertsons Cos. ($ACI) reporting an adjustment to earnings last year for “civil unrest” — and we mentioned that by using our non-XBRL Data Query Tool, we found virtually no other large firms made a similar disclosure last year.

A Calcbench subscriber then emailed us with an excellent question: “Hey, can you show us how that non-XBRL Query thing works?”

Indeed we can. Here’s a tutorial on how the query page works.

The non-XBRL Query Page lets you search for terms in earnings releases or quarterly reports even when those items are not tagged in XBRL. That’s the data classification technology used for GAAP-approved financial data, and we have a query page dedicated to those terms, too.

But data in an earnings release, and especially non-GAAP financial disclosures, are not required to be tagged in XBRL. So if you want to conduct in-depth analysis of that information, an XBRL search tool won’t help. Hence the Calcbench non-XBRL Query Page.

How It Works

Figure 1, below, shows what the non-XBRL query page looks like. As you can see, the left side is where you enter the “fact” you want to research, the right side where you enter the relevant periods of time.

First, as always, select the company or group of companies you want to research using the Choose Companies buttons at the very top of the page.

Second, enter the fact you want to research using the “label or metric” field at the top of the left column. For example, in our Albertsons case, the label could be “unrest” or “civil” since those words were the label that Albertsons used for that non-GAAP item. Also, select the right operating symbol from that pull-down menu in the middle that starts with an equals sign. You’ll see a range of choices, such as

  • =
  • Contains text
  • Starts with
  • Ends with
  • and a few other choices.

We were searching for labels that included the text phrase “civil unrest,” so we set that operating symbol to “contains text.” Then we entered “unrest” in the third field.

The other fields further down that side of the page simply help to narrow your search field. You can choose whether to search earnings guidance or not; to search specific filing types such as proxy statements, guidance updates, 10-Ks and Qs, and so forth. You can even enter whether a term is non-GAAP or not.

The fields on the right side of the page help you narrow the period of time you want to search, and they’re pretty self-explanatory. You can search by fiscal quarters or calendar quarters; one specific filing period or numerous periods of time; or even by specific filing date if you know that detail.

Then you press Search or Direct to Excel at the bottom, and see what results come up.

Figure 2, below, shows the search we ran for our Albertsons post. It was a simple exercise of searching the S&P 500 for any firms that used the text “unrest” in their filings sometime in 2020. (Be warned, when searching large groups of companies or large swaths of filings, the data crunching can take a while.)

How to Read the Results

Figure 3, below, shows some of the results we received at the bottom of the search page. As we noted in our Albertsons post, most of the results that mention unrest aren’t about civil unrest from last year’s social justice protests. To discover that, however, we had to expand the two columns named “column label” and “label.”

This image shows some of the results for AIG ($AIG) — an insurance firm, where it’s no surprise that the company has costs related to damages from civil unrest. Then the results shift to Avalon Bay ($AVB), and we can see from the Label column that those mentions of “unrest” aren’t related to last year’s protests.

Anyway, that’s a quick tutorial on the non-XBRL Query Tool. It’s available to Calcbench Professional subscribers only; if you need more detailed help or support with a search project you have, always feel free to drop us a line at

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