Course 105: Financial Reports and How to Read Them
Other Forms
In this course
1 Introduction
2 Annual Reports
3 10-K Reports
4 10-Q Reports
5 Other Forms

There are literally dozens of SEC forms that companies can file, and below is an overview of some of the more common ones.

8-K -- The 8K form announces any material events or corporate changes that occur between quarterly reports; it’s a type of interim report until the company issues its 10-K or 10-Q. Such events include stock splits, mergers, spin-offs, bond issuances, and secondary stock offerings. Companies generally also file an 8-K report announcing preliminary financial results each quarter, soon after the end of the quarter but before the full 10-Q or 10-K is issued.

S-1 -- An S-1 form is a prospectus for a stock offering. It’s most useful when the offering in question is an initial public offering, or IPO, since the prospectus often presents the first opportunity for the public to see a company’s financials. Such a document announces the amount of stock being offered for sale and what the company plans to do with the proceeds, describes in detail the risk factors the company faces (which in the case of startup companies can be considerable), and gives basic financial data and management’s discussion.

20-F -- For foreign companies, the 20-F is the annual report filed with the SEC and is akin to the 10-K.

13-D -- Useful in finding information about insider holdings, the 13-D discloses beneficial ownership of a firm's shares. Any person or people who acquire a beneficial ownership of more than 5% of a class of equity securities must file a Schedule 13-D within 10 days of the acquisition.

All these forms may seem intimidating when you first encounter them, but if you know how to separate the wheat from the chaff, they can be a gold mine of information.

The front part of a company's annual report generally contains:

  • Lots of graphics and discussion designed to put the best possible face on the company.
  • The company's financial statements for the previous year.
  • The management's discussion and analysis section.
The front of an annual report is generally propaganda meant to make the company look as good as possible; the nitty-gritty details are found further back.

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