There are two main places to look for public companies’ financial reports and related information on the internet: the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website and, the investor relations section of a business’s own public website. Reporters should look at both, because while substantial overlap exists, not all information on these sources is the same.
What you’ll find on the SEC website
The SEC’s Edgar database houses all official U.S. public company filings, which are submitted quarterly (the 10-Q report) and annually (the 10-K report). The Edgar database offers tutorials; you can also sign up for RSS links to individual company filings.
The filings themselves contain all the details of a company’s finances—nitty-gritty such as the geographic sources of revenue. You’ll also find SEC comment letters—questions from an SEC staffer on a previously filed report—as well as responses to those letters. These are worth examining, to see if a comment has been resolved.
Most reporters use the 10-K to get a comprehensive picture of a business’s earnings over the course of the year. The 10-Q can be valuable for recognizing new trends or changes that haven’t yet appeared in the 10-K.
What you’ll find on a company’s public website
Information found in the investor relations sections of companies’ public websites, but not at the SEC site, includes:
- Corporate governance documents
- Earnings announcements
- Press releases
- Analyst conference calls (in which the company publicly discusses its financial performance over a given period)
- Presentations to analysts and statements made by entity representatives at industry conferences
You will also find the company’s annual report and quarterly report–glossy reports intended for the investor, with plenty of photos, charts and easy-to-digest financial information. Many companies offer email or text alerts so you know when important financial events occur.
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