Tag Archives: SEC Comment Letter

Overview of the SEC’s Comment Letter Process

What is the Purpose of the SEC Comment Letter Process?

The goal of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance is to ensure that investors are provided with material information to make informed investment decisions.  One method the SEC uses to achieve this goal is to issue SEC Comment Letters when a company’s disclosures or financials in SEC filings need correction or require further explanation.

Through the SEC’s filing review process, SEC staff monitors and selectively reviews company filings posted under the Securities Act of 1933 and Securities Exchange Act of 1934 in order to “enhance compliance with disclosure and accounting requirements.”

The SEC focuses on disclosures that appear to be inconsistent with SEC rules or recognized accounting standards, or those which appear “to be materially deficient in their rationale or in clarity.”

What is an SEC Comment Letter?

SEC Comment Letters follow a consistent format, using numbered paragraphs that quote the specific language in an S-1 or other SEC filing which needs clarification.  While a S-1 Registration Statement is being reviewed, these SEC Comment Letters are not available to the public.  After an S-1 is declared Effective, all SEC Comment Letters become visible on SEC.gov and are marked UPLOAD.

How Does a Company Respond to an SEC Comment Letter?

A company’s securities attorney then helps the company respond in the same format, listing each comment and reply by number, in a question and answer (“Q&A”) fashion, so that each numbered paragraph is addressed in order.

After an S-1 Registration Statement becomes Effective, these response letters from the company or its securities counsel are also visible on the SEC’s EDGAR system under CORRESP meaning “correspondence.”  At the same time a company responds to SEC Comments, it also amends its S-1 or other SEC filing using the guidance provided by the SEC Comments, and those amendments are likewise posted to EDGAR.

When Does the SEC Issue Comment Letters?

After an S-1 Registration Statement is filed, initial SEC Comments are issued within Thirty (30) Days and often in as few as Two (2) Weeks.  Depending on the nature of the S-1, including the company’s business model and the complexity of its financials, there can be several rounds of SEC Comments, and company responses, which help an Issuer to refine disclosures and explain financials.

The SEC Comment Letter process is expected when a company files an Initial Public Offering (“IPO”) in an S-1 to first sell securities to the public.   There is nothing inherently bad about receiving an SEC Comment Letter.  An experienced securities compliance attorney can help companies use SEC Comments as guidance to make their SEC filings more transparent and easier to understand.

In addition to the expected SEC Comments to an S-1 filing or to any other Registration Statement, the Division of Corporation Finance can technically also issue an SEC Comment Letter for any public company filing an 8-K, 10-Q or 10-K report on SEC.gov if there are questions.

Securities Attorney  for Responding to SEC Comments

Securities lawyer Matt Stout represents OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Markets companies in responding to SEC Comments on S-1 Registration Statements and any Securities Act or 34 Act filings.  Companies seeking guidance on going public by filing an IPO via S-1, or those in receipt of an SEC Comment Letter can contact Matheau J. W. Stout, Esq. for a no cost consultation at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.

 

 

 

 

 

What is an SEC Comment Letter?

The term SEC Comment Letter generally refers to correspondence from the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) staff to public companies which are SEC filers.  An SEC Comment Letter is sent by the SEC to an Issuer when an Issuer’s SEC filing needs further clarification.

SEC Comments on an S-1 Registration Statement

One example of an SEC Comment Letter is in response to an Issuer’s filing of an S-1 Registration Statement.  An S-1 Comment Letter is sent by SEC staff who review the disclosures set forth in an S-1 when there are questions that need to be answered or typos which need to be corrected.  There may be a series of SEC Comment Letters and Issuer response letters that go back and forth until the S-1 is finalized and declared effective by the SEC staff.

SEC Comment Letters on 10-K, 10-Q, Reg A, and 8-K Filings

The SEC can also issue an SEC Comment Letter in response to disclosures made in a public company’s 10-K, 10-Q, Regulation A, or 8-K, or in any other SEC filing, such as a Form 10.

SEC Comment Letters are Searchable in EDGAR

SEC comment Letters and the responses by Issuers or their securities lawyers are contained in the SEC’s EDGAR database as “correspondence.” The SEC made this correspondence public record in 2005 for filings made after August 1, 2004 which were reviewed by the SEC staff.

SEC Comment Letters Can Address Questions of Disclosure

SEC Comment Letters usually ask for additional information so the SEC staff can understand the Issuer’s disclosure.  Sometimes the SEC requests that an Issuer revise disclosures in a document already filed with the SEC if the facts and circumstances warrant such a change.  In other cases, the SEC will allow prior filings to remain, but request that the Issuer provide additional or different disclosures in future SEC filings.

Are SEC Comment Letters Legally Binding?

There are often several rounds of letters between the SEC and an Issuer’s securities attorney  until the SEC is satisfied with the information provided and changes made. SEC Comment Letters provide SEC staff positions on the issues discussed but are not an official or legally binding statement of the SEC’s views on the particular issues. SEC Comment Letters are expressly limited to the specific facts and circumstances of the named filing in question and do not automatically apply to other filings or to other SEC filers.

Experienced Securities Lawyers Can Respond to SEC Comment Letters

OTC public companies that received an SEC Comment Letter in response to an S-1 Registration Statement or to any other disclosure in an SEC Filing can contact securities attorney Matt Stout at (410) 429-7076 or mstout@otclawyers.com.