Emerging-growth companies increasingly are seeking a confidential review by the Securities and Exchange Commission before an initial public offering. The option, part of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, applies to companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue. In the past year, 63% of companies have utilized the provision, Ernst & Young says. "We're seeing companies file confidentially a little before they would otherwise," said John Sensiba of accounting firm Sensiba San Filippo. That way, they can get "free feedback without letting their competitors know about their business."

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