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Companies produce a number of reports, statements, filings, and other documents that provide financial information. The documents are reviewed and analyzed by investors, management, lenders, and others interested in the financial stability or profitability of the company. Definitions for the following financial terms are taken from Investopedia.
Balance Sheet - A balance sheet is a financial statement that reports a company's assets, liabilities and shareholders' equity at a specific point in time, and provides a basis for computing rates of return and evaluating its capital structure. It is a financial statement that provides a snapshot of what a company owns and owes, as well as the amount invested by shareholders. The balance sheet is used with other financial statements such as the income statement and statement of cash flows in conducting fundamental analysis or calculating financial ratios.
Income Statement - An income statement is one of the three important financial statements used for reporting a company's financial performance over a specific accounting period, with the other two key statements being the balance sheet and the statement of cash flows. Also known as the profit and loss statement or the statement of revenue and expense, the income statement primarily focuses on the company’s revenues and expenses during a particular period.
Cash Flow Statement - A cash flow statement is a financial statement that provides aggregate data regarding all cash inflows a company receives from its ongoing operations and external investment sources. It also includes all cash outflows that pay for business activities and investments during a given period.
A company's financial statements offer investors and analysts a portrait of all the transactions that go through the business, where every transaction contributes to its success. The cash flow statement is believed to be the most intuitive of all the financial statements because it follows the cash made by the business in three main ways—through operations, investment, and financing. The sum of these three segments is called net cash flow. These three different sections of the cash flow statement can help investors determine the value of a company's stock or the company as a whole.
Annual Report to Shareholders - An annual report is a publication that public corporations must provide annually to shareholders to describe their operations and financial conditions. The front part of the report often contains an impressive combination of graphics, photos, and an accompanying narrative, all of which chronicle the company's activities over the past year. The back part of the report contains detailed financial and operational information. Typically, an annual report will contain the following sections:
10-K - A 10-K is a comprehensive report filed annually by a publicly-traded company about its financial performance and is required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The report contains much more detail than a company's annual report, which is sent to its shareholders before an annual meeting to elect company directors.
Some of the information a company is required to document in the 10-K includes its history, organizational structure, financial statements, earnings per share, subsidiaries, executive compensation, and any other relevant data. The SEC requires this report to keep investors aware of a company's financial condition and to allow them to have enough information before they buy or sell shares in the corporation, or before investing in the firm’s corporate bonds. 10-Ks can also be retrieved by using the company search function through the SEC's EDGAR database.
The 10-K includes five distinct sections:
A 10-K filing also includes signed letters from the company’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer. In it, the executives swear under oath that the information included in the 10-K is accurate. This is required per the Sarbaes Oxley Act of 2002). These letters became a requirement after several high-profile cases involving accounting fraud following the dot-com bust.
Proxy Statement (14-A) - A proxy statement is a document containing the information the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires companies to provide to shareholders so they can make informed decisions about matters that will be brought up at an annual or special stockholder meeting. Issues covered in a proxy statement can include proposals for new additions to the board of directors, information on directors' salaries, information on bonus and options plans for directors, and any declarations made by the company's management.