Researching Investments - Reading the Annual Reports

The annual report to shareholders is the principal document used by most public companies to disclose corporate information to their shareholders. It is usually a state-of-the-company report, including an opening letter from the Chief Executive Officer, financial data, results of continuing operations, market segment information, new product plans, subsidiary activities, and research and development activities on future programs. The Form 10-K, which must be filed with the SEC, typically contains more detailed information about the company’s financial condition than the annual report.

Reporting companies must send annual reports to their shareholders when they hold annual meetings to elect directors. Companies sometimes elect to send their Form 10-K to their shareholders in lieu of providing shareholders with an annual report. Some companies may file their annual reports electronically in the SEC’s EDGAR database. You can learn how to use EDGAR to find annual and other reports filed by companies. If you know that a company has filed its annual report with the SEC, you can enter "ARS" in the type of form box in EDGAR.

Reading Financial Statements