The comprehensive summary of a company’s performance that must be submitted annually to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, usually containing more detail than an annual report to shareholders.
Every year, public companies are required to submit audited financial statements and a comprehensive overview of both their current business and financial condition. This is accomplished through the submission of a Form 10-K. This form is distinguished from a quarterly 10-Q report, an 8-K unscheduled material events disclosure report and approximately one trillion other forms that large corporations are regularly required to file with the U.S. government. A Form 10-K report is an important and consequential annual disclosure primarily because it provides a fairly comprehensive snapshot of a company’s current standing for the benefit of investors specifically and the public generally.
The purpose of this mandatory form involves educating the public and investors about the current state of the business in question. After all, it is generally a good idea to remain in the loop about whether a company recently just fired more than half of its management, failed to secure a place in the competitive “boutique herbal tea” market and stopped serving sushi in the cafeteria before you decide whether to invest in shares of the business. In general, Form 10-K filings include information about current earnings per share, executive compensation, corporate history, subsidiaries and organizational structure in addition to financial statements and other relevant disclosures. For better and for worse, you may ultimately have to ask a current employee about the current state of sushi availability in any given cafeteria.
Importantly, these disclosures feature sections detailing current risks and anticipated future risks the company may soon need to grapple with. In addition, both a letter penned by an independent auditor certifying the scope of that individual’s review and letters signed under oath by the company’s chief financial officer and chief executive officer are always featured.
“Hmm… I need some new light beach reading. Should I go with the latest Dan Brown novel or the Coca-Cola Corporation’s 2019 Form 10-K?”