Before investing in a bond, the prudent investor will research the level of risk involved. To that end, U.S. firms must file a document, a prospectus, with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) that provides information about the company and the particulars of the bond. Here are two ways to find a bond prospectus.
From the SEC.
The SEC makes company disclosure documents freely available from their web site, using the interface known as EDGAR (stands for Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval).
Let’s say I wanted to find the prospectus for a bond that I know Eli Lilly offered sometime in early 2009. I would search for all of Lilly’s filings by company name or ticker (lly). Then, I would narrow the results down by searching for documents that begin with “424” to find all prospectus documents. The search would look like this: Edgar Search Video .
Bloomberg user? Looking up a prospectus in Bloomberg is simple. Using the 2009 Lilly example again, we would type in LLY <corp> at the prompt. A list of the firm’s bonds comes up.
We could identify our bond by finding the date in the issue date column. Click on the bond. A bond menu screen comes up. Type CF (the “Company Filings” command) at the prompt and that brings up a link to the prospectus.