Posted: 8 Nov 2012 Last revised: 20 Jul 2014
Date Written: October 1, 2012
This study investigates the usefulness of eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) corporate filings to conduct a basic investment task: ratio analysis. Proponents of XBRL have long argued that its use will increase the timeliness, ease-of-access, and cost-effectiveness of accessing financial data over previous methods. Ratio analysis, a common investment analyst task, was chosen to test XBRL’s ability to provide access to financial data quickly, efficiently, and interactively. Unfortunately, the results suggest that XBRL data, even when in compliance with SEC filing requirements, is not tagged to a level of consistency that would enable users to perform ratio analysis faster or more efficiently than previous approaches allow. Although our findings indicate that instance documents are much less useful than they could be, requiring filers to manually tag all XBRL data elements is impractical. This study concludes by presenting alternatives that would help investors use XBRL data as originally envisioned.
Keywords: XBRL, US GAAP taxonomy, end-users, financial ratios, statement analysis, interactive data
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Williams, Kelly L. and Wenger, Mitchell R. and Elam, Rick, Analysis of Actual Company Filings Using XBRL: An Empirical Investigation into Interactive Use of XBRL Financial Statement Data (October 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2172325