Stocks: Buying, Selling & Researching

 

Corporate Reports, Financial Statements & Balance Sheets

When a company goes "public" Initial Public Offering (IPO) and sells shares to the public, in order to protect investors from the government, the SEC Stock Market & Security Exchanges requires these companies to provide certain information so that investors have an accurate picture of the company in order to assess the company’s performance and future prospects.

One source of information about a company is from their own financial reports and press releases.  The best places to obtain these are either directly from the company itself (or company's website) or from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Website:
http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml.

The SEC
http://www.sec.gov, the governing body for stocks in the United States, requires all publicly traded companies to file numerous reports (with special number/alpha codes) to keep investors up-to-date on what is happening with the company.  These reports can be obtained from either the company’s Website or http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml.  The major ones are:
  • Annual Report to Shareholders (10K)
    • Provides a financial statement and balance sheet for the previous year. Management will highlight their successes and some things that may not have worked out as planned.  They will also discuss changes that they might make to improve their performance. Footnotes often hold interesting pieces of information.
  • Quarterly Report to Shareholders(10Q)
    • Shorter than the annual report, but contains much of the same information. It is also called the earnings report.  This keeps you abreast of the latest changes and the company’s financial performance.
  • Current Reports (8K)
    • These are released if a company has a major announcement they think shareholders need to know about.  This could be a bankruptcy, merger, acquisition, change in top management, etc.
  • Insider Trading (Form 4) & Major Shareholders Trading & Acquisition (13D and 13G)
    • If a member of the company’s top management or Board of Directors decides to sell or purchase shares or cash in options, they must report it to the SEC.  The SEC then reports it to the public.  Options are an incentive some company's offer their top management as part of their employment package.  Options give the person the right to purchase shares at a certain price.  The price is generally at or below the market price at the time the option is granted and is offered at that price for a specific period of time/years.  Many people look at those inside the company/major shareholders purchasing or selling behavior as clues to how management and major shareholders view the future of the company.  If they are purchasing shares, many believe it is a positive sign that the future looks good.  On the other hand, if there is a great deal of selling, find out why.