A User's Guide To 1998 Annual Reports - Part I: It's the time of year when investors' thoughts turn to the impending torrent of annual reports crossing their desks. Some investors dread the flood, while others welcome it. Those who look upon the arrival of financial statements as a task of enormous drudgery can usually fashion an excuse to avoid reading them. Then there are those users who welcome the arrival of financial statements. They know that it's the best time of year to get reacquainted with firms in which they've invested - or to get acquainted with new investment opportunities. They view financial statements as a resource for understanding what makes a company tick. They want to know where a company's been, and what economic forces took it there - and they rely on annual reports for that information. For those investors, this report is a "user's guide" to getting the most knowledge out of the current crop of financial statements.