The SEC database is not just about annual reports – although those are obviously useful for competitive intelligence. The SEC publishes a great deal of information about contracts, leases, capital expenditure and other document filings. When it comes to competitor analysis, this is a very useful website.
Take as an example this lease contract here. This shows just how useful searching the SEC archives can be for competitive intelligence. This randomly chosen document reveals the company's financials, negotiation terms and capital expenditure details. This kind of information could be useful in situations as diverse as an operations teams negotiating better terms for their own leases, or a competitor analysis team studying how competitors allocate funds.
Aside from this specific example, other interesting data can be gleaned from the SEC database. It is clearly more than just annual reports (which are useful of themselves) – it is a comprehensive review of securities.
The site is research intensive, and it is a bit cumbersome to sort through the great amount of information available in the archives. There is no simple search feature, so you must have firm considerations in mind about what information you are trying to gather.
Overall, the SEC Archives are a goldmine of information – one just needs to be willing to spend some time searching and reading through large amounts of information.