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How to Obtain Corporate Reports

Any investor worth his salt researches and monitors the companies he or she is planning to invest in before committing their money to the venture. Find out as much as you can about a company before you buy ownership interest in it or lend it money. Specifically, you should read and thoroughly examine a company's corporate reports and other significant releases.

If you are planning to invest in a big, publicly traded company, finding its corporate reports and releases is easy. As a general rule, federal laws require companies that meet the following conditions to submit to security registration and periodic reporting requirements:

  • companies that have issued securities being traded in an exchange or other public marketplaces
  • companies that have $10M or greater in assets and more than 500 shareholders

Examples of SEC filings required of such big, public companies at periodic intervals are Form 8-K (reports on significant events), Form 10-k (annual reports with audited financial statements), and Form 10-Q or the quarterly report.

Information about big companies is also usually available through brokerage firms, newspapers and public libraries.

If you are planning on investing in private or small companies, however, prepare to have a much harder time looking for information about your target companies. Small, private companies are subject to less rigorous registration and reporting requirements; they may even be exempt from such requirements.

Where to Find More Information about Companies

The following are some of the potential sources of a company's corporate reports and other relevant documents:

EDGAR Database (SEC): The SEC has a database that stores all the financial reports of all registered companies, including all the forms mentioned above. You can find EDGAR by visiting the SEC website.

Government Regulators: You may also go to government regulators that keep track of companies (e.g. banks) that are not required to file with SEC. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the National Information Center of Banking Information of the Federal Research System are some of these regulatory agencies. You can check out their websites to see if the company you are planning to invest in is subject to their regulatory authority.

Local State Agencies: There are companies that sell their securities only within a single state. In this case, you can find information about them by going to local state authorities that regulate state-based or state-exclusive companies.

The Secretary of State, for instance, monitors the good standing of corporations within the state and collects their annual reports. You can check the number and address of your local Secretary of State by going to the website of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

You should also contact your state securities regulator. To find the contact information for your state's securities agency, visit the North American Securities Administrators Association website.

Commercial Databases: Hoover's Profiles, Standard & Poor's Corporate Profiles, Dun & Bradstreet, Moody's, Lexis/Nexis, and Bloomberg News Service are some of the commercial services that you can use to obtain relevant company news and financial information.

Public Libraries and Law/Business Libraries: Libraries often have an extensive collection of securities news and other documents.

Companies: You can also obtain more information about a company by directly contacting the company to request such information. Companies often prepare brochures, financial reports and other documents for the benefit of current and would-be investors.

Of course, you must independently check and verify company-provided information. This will protect you from investment scams and fraudulent ventures.

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