The 2009 Annual Reports: An Investor's Guide: 10-K season is in full swing. The deadline is already past for the large accelerated filers, and by month’s end, all stock market inhabitants should have their annual filings deposited in the SEC’s EDGAR archive.
You might be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of reading you’ve got ahead of you. Before you start “skimming” way too much in an effort to get through the stacks, take a deep breath and pull back. Take time to figure out what’s really important. After all, the level of disclosure is not going to be higher any other time of the year. While there isn’t any single magic disclosure or ratio that will always save your investment - and your neck - one thing the annual report and 10-K offers investors is more context than usual. There’s a better chance than usual for the investor to separate the trees from the forest. The process: form expectations; look for support or contradiction; reconcile findings to expectations; repeat.