The 7 critical items to read first in an annual report in 20 minutes (Part 1 of 9)

For any company that you are invested in, you should understand the annual report. The annual report is the formal financial statement issued yearly by a corporation. The annual report shows assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses and earnings – how the company stood at the close of the business year, how it fared profit-wise during the year, as well as other information of interest to shareholders.

When the report is first published, I suggest that you spend 20 minutes looking at 7 critical items. Once you have insured these 7 items are covered, you can then read the entire report at your leisure over the next few weeks (but definitely don’t wait more than a month to read the report).

In your leisurely reading of the report you can focus on how the company is making money, what are the challenges it is facing, and possible changes in the revenue model. This is primarily covered in Part 1 of the report. The larger the company, the more that is covered in this area so it is important to set aside time to really study this document.

You will also want to study at length the “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” that is found in Item 7. This is likely quite long and in-depth so take your time over several weeks to really understand this information. You don't want to rush this but instead you want to spend time reading and understanding this information.

This technique of doing a quick read begs the question:

“What seven items should I concentrate on in the annual report in that first 20 minutes?”

In a series of posts over the next few weeks, I will suggest the various items to investigate. These posts will come out on Tuesday and Thursday on this site.

  1. Profitability
  2. Free Cash Flow
  3. Inventories
  4. DSO
  5. Backlog
  6. Shares outstanding and stock repurchase
  7. Dividends

I hope that this series of posts will be interesting to you and help you be a better investor.

Here are the links to all 9 posts of the series:

  1. The 7 critical items to read first in an annual report in 20 minutes (Part 1 of 9)
  2. The 7 critical items to read first in an annual report in 20 minutes (Part 2 of 9)
  3. The 7 critical items to read first in an annual report in 20 minutes (Part 3 of 9)
  4. The 7 critical items to read first in an annual report in 20 minutes (Part 4 of 9)
  5. The 7 critical items to read first in an annual report in 20 minutes (Part 5 of 9)
  6. The 7 critical items to read first in an annual report in 20 minutes (Part 6 of 9)
  7. The 7 critical items to read first in an annual report in 20 minutes (Part 7 of 9)
  8. The 7 critical items to read first in an annual report in 20 minutes (Part 8 of 9)
  9. The 7 critical items to read first in an annual report in 20 minutes (Part 9 of 9)

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