Interpreting Financial Documents
Accessing For-profit Companies “Annual “10-K”
If you can buy a share of stock on a stock exchange in the U.S., then the company will fall under the rules of the SEC. These rules require the submission of a significant amount of information, and the regulations require quarterly, annually, or as needed submissions. One particular document is known as the “10-K” pronounced “ten-kay”, named after the section of the regulations for its requirement. It’s prepared annually by the company and filed electronically with the SEC. The SEC then makes this information available through its reporting system called “EDGAR” so that access can be made using the internet. In earlier days everything was done on paper and one would need to get paper copies of the filings.
To simplify finding a company, a unique set of letters are assigned to the company know as it’s stock symbol. For example, the stock symbol for the large pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories is “ABT”. It helps to know the symbol of the company in your search, and various sites will provide a lookup table where you put in the name of the company and it provides the symbol.
You can get a company’s 10-K directly from the SEC at www.sec.gov and use their Edgar system; or you can use other means which may be either simpler, or provide better access to more readable data. One common way is to use a financial search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN. Another way is to go directly to the company’s website.
Accessing Not-for-Profit Organizations “990 Documents”
While the SEC does not require annual filings of not-for-profit organizations, the IRS does. Annual filings are a requirement of those organizations that have been approved by the IRS to be exempt from income taxes. These filings in earlier times were made on a document known as the “990”, commonly pronounced “nine ninety”, a term from the identifying number of the IRS form. These documents were, and still are, required to be made available to the public by the organization for anyone physically visiting the company’s main offices.
While the IRS does not have a similar resource as Edgar at the SEC, a third party has made it it’s mission to copy and make available on the internet the 990s of most organizations in the U.S. One can find this site at www.guidestar.org [Once at their homepage, a company must be found through it’s name as there is not a stock symbol. For example to find the financial statements and management commentary from for the healthcare provider, Intermountain Health Care, Inc, search on their corporate name, “IHC Health Services Inc.” It’s not uncommon for large not-for- profits to have many subsidiaries which are also included in Guidestar. You will just have to search for the correct one. Guidestar is itself a not-for-profit. To gain access to the 990 you will need to register, however registration is free. Other information is available at their site which requires a premium membership.]
Instructions: Using the above website, locate the 10-K of a for-profit health care organization along with the 990 for a not-for-profit health care organization in order to address the following questions below in a minimum of 250 words.
1. What were the names of the organizations that you selected and their main business? What are your thoughts on your experience in finding their financial information?
2. What is your biggest insight from this activity about the availability of financial information? How could you use this information in the future?