What Is an Annual Report?

An annual report is a company publication provided annually to shareholders detailing a company’s operations and fiscal performance over the past year.

Most publicly held companies are required by law to distribute annual reports to shareholders. Annual reporting protects investors and keeps the public informed of company activities. These reports are usually audited, so companies must ensure they’re accurate and distributed in a timely manner.

Annual reports may vary in appearance, ranging from long-form company narratives with slick graphics to basic financial data tables provided by mutual funds. To meet regulatory requirements, annual reports include mandatory accounting disclosures and specific corporate information describing company operations. Most company annual reports also include a letter to the shareholders, financial highlights and summary data, analysis from senior management, product plans, research and development updates and the auditor’s report.

Publicly held companies in the US are typically obliged to submit annual reports on Form 10-K to the SEC, though they may choose to distribute a separate annual report to shareholders. Companies may also file their annual reports with the SEC electronically in the EDGAR database system.

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