Most US listed companies ready for XBRL

Many large public companies have begun complying with the regulator's mandate

At least 340 of the estimated 500 public companies required by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to begin filing financial data in the XBRL format in June have made the conversion, according to a survey from XBRL US, a nonprofit standards group.

Those companies have begun filing financial data with the SEC in XBRL, or Extensible Business Reporting Language, a programming language related to XML, XBRL said in a press release.

The SEC and XBRL supporters have said the requirements will make SEC reports easier to read and analyse. With XBRL, companies will use XML data tags to describe financial information in the SEC's online Edgar database, instead of filing their financial reports in text or HTML.

Under the current filing methods, much of the company financial data has to be re-entered by hand before it can get online at the SEC's Web site, SEC officials have said.

The SEC's mandate of public company reporting in XBRL will be phased in over two years, with the largest public companies, those with more than US $5 billion in shares held by the public, required to file financial data in XBRL starting with their June 15 quarter. About 1,800 other large filers are required to comply with the mandate beginning in June 2010, and all other publicly traded companies and foreign private issuers will be required to comply starting in June 2011.

"These XBRL financial statements represent almost $7 trillion in market capitalisation, over 50% of the total market cap for all publicly traded companies reporting to the SEC," Alfred Berkeley, chairman of Pipeline Financial Systems and chairman of XBRL US board, said in a statement. "We're at critical mass and looking forward to extending investor benefits to other asset classes in the future."

XBRL US released the 2009 version of the US GAAP Taxonomy for XBRL on April 21. The release incorporates industry changes and is being used by public companies preparing their financial statements in XBRL to comply with the SEC mandate, the group said.

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