THUMBS DOWN: SEC Faults Annual Reports

Physician's Money Digest, June15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 11

When it comes to researchingpotential investments, most financialadvisors tell you to ignore the glossy,photo-filled annual report a companysends to its shareholders; instead,concentrate on the annual 10k reportthat every publicly owned companymust file with the SEC. According to arecent SEC study, however, the 10kreports from 350 of the nation's top500 companies fall short of providingclear and complete information. Thebiggest shortfall, the SEC says, is inthe "management discussion andanalysis" section of the filing, whichought to talk clearly about industrytrends, corporate goals, and businessrisks for the year ahead. Reportsoften lack a clear explanation of thecompany's accounting policies, includingwhat it counts as revenue andhow its debt appears on the balancesheet. Physician-investors, beware.