An Investor's Guide To The 2010 Annual Reports: March 1, 2011: that’s the SEC’s 10-K deadline for “large accelerated filers” having December year ends, and it’s just days away. Ordinary“accelerated filers” - those with a public float of less than $700 million - have slightly longer to electronically heave their 10-K filings over the SEC’s doorstep: March 16, 2011. The smallest fry of the public markets, those with public floats under $75 million, can wait until the last day of March to file their 10-Ks.
You’re bound to be busy reading these tomes over the coming weeks, and you’d be right to wonder which ones are works of fiction, instead of presentations of facts. Only thinking critically while digesting them is going to do that for you, and the sheer size of your 10-K stack will ensure that sooner or later, you’ll be “skimming” those reports. Resist that urge as long as you can: you won’t have another chance to learn as much about a company for another year. Focus on the disclosures that are most important to you. No single magic disclosure or ratio in the annual report will always give you the most brilliant insight. The one thing the annual report offers investors is more context than usual, and a better than usual opportunity for the investor to piece together the factual mosaic tiles that describe a company and its business better than any other time of year. It’s up to the investor to make that picture come together by exercising due diligence in reading the annual reports.