Answered By: Julie Shen
Last Updated: Mar 22, 2016     Views: 333

Annual reports are published by publicly-traded companies to educate current and potential stockholders about company activities and performance. They contain discussions of the previous year's activities, plans for the coming year(s), and financial data. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires that companies distribute annual reports to their shareholders. Annual Reports are also available freely to the public for most U.S. companies that offer stock.

Related to annual reports are 10-K reports, which are filed with the SEC. While they do not contain charts, photos or graphics, they do contain more information than a typical annual report. Websites that contain "SEC filings" often have both annual reports and 10-K reports. Thompson's Guide to SEC Filings explains the contents and requirements of each SEC filing and discusses the various situations in which a company needs to file.

It is important to realize that annual reports are publications of publicly traded stocks. Private companies, subsidiaries, and brand names DO NOT have annual reports.

If you need only financial data (income statement, balance sheet) you may not need an actual annual report. Company and investment reference sources can be downloaded from Mergent Online, available on the Business Databases page.

Annual Reports Sources

Company Websites. Recent annual reports are now commonly offered from the company's own website. A search of Google.com will often yield the company website. Annual reports may be hidden under such links as "About the Company" or "Investor Relations".

Web Collections of Annual Reports. The websites below will lead to either company websites or the data directly:

Lexis Nexis Academic Universe. Available from the Business Databases page. Lexis Nexis is good for older annual reports and 10-K's. However, Lexis-Nexis does not have any photos, charts, or graphics.

From the main menu, under Get Company Info, search by company name or ticker symbol. Then click on "SEC Filings" on the left.

For older annual reports, from the Academic Universe main menu page, click on Sources, search for AICPA, and select Annual Reports - Corporate (AICPA) (formerly known as NAARS Annual Reports).

Mergent Online. Available from the Business Databases page. From the main menu, under Company Search, search by company name or ticker symbol. Then click on the "Reports" tab for a list of reports starting with the most recent. 

Company Research. Websites for company research in general can be found on the Websites - Companies research guide,  under Publicly Traded and Directories

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