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Key constituents of an annual report - Views on News from Equitymaster
 
 
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  • Mar 13, 2009

    Key constituents of an annual report

    An annual report is probably amongst the most viewed company publications. It is the most comprehensive means of communication between a company and its shareholders. It is a report that each company must provide to each of its shareholder at the end of the financial year. To put it differently, it is a report that each shareholder must read.

    But what is its use if one does not understand or refer to it?

    As a shareholder of a company, you need to know its performance over the past financial year and the management's view on the same. You also need to know what is the company's future plan and strategies. As a shareholder, you need to know what does the management intends to do to attain those targets.

    In the third part of this series, we present to you a brief on what the key constituents of an annual report are.

    Key constituents of an annual report

    1. Director's report: The director's report comprises of the events that take place in the reporting period. This includes a summary of financials, analysis of operational performance, details of new ventures and business, performance of subsidiaries, details of change in share capital, and details of dividends. In short, shareholders can get a gist of the fiscal year from this section.

    2. Management discussion and analysis (MD&A): More often than not, the MD&A starts off with the management giving its view on the economy. It is then followed by a perspective on the sector in which the company is present. Any major changes like inflation, government policies, competition, tax structures, amongst others are highlighted and discussed in this report. It also includes the business strategy the management intends to follow. Details regarding different segments are provided in this section. The company also gives a brief SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat) analysis and business outlook for the coming fiscal.

      This can aid the shareholder to understand what major changes are likely to affect the company going forward. However, as mentioned earlier, an investor should not blindly believe what the management has to say. While it tends to paint a rosy picture, one needs to judge the sanity behind the rationale.

    3. Report on corporate governance: The report on corporate governance covers all aspects that are essential to the shareholder of a company and are not part of the daily operations of the company. It includes details regarding the directors and management of a company. These include details such as their background and their remuneration. This report also provides data regarding board meetings - how many directors attended the how many meetings. It also provides general shareholder information such as correspondence details, details of annual general meetings, dividend payment details, stock performance, details of registrar and transfer agents and the shareholding pattern.

    4. Financial statements and schedules: Finally, we arrive at the crux of the annual report, the financial statements. Financial statements, as you are aware, provide details regarding the operational performance of a company during the reporting period. In addition, it also depicts the financial strength of a company. The key constituents of the financial statement include the profit and loss account, the balance sheet, the cash flow statement and the schedules.

      In the next article, we shall briefly take a look at the key constituents of the financial statements. Thereafter, we will go through each of the statements in further detail.


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