How to Locate Financial Statements

The Securities and Exchange Commission

The SEC is the U.S. government agency charged with regulating financial markets and ensuring that the financial information provided by publicly traded companies follows certain rules and that this information is readily available to all.

To ensure that financial information is available to everyone, the SEC has created a database that contains all of a company’s required SEC filings. The SEC requires companies to disclose a lot of information so that the investing public can be fully informed. The information interesting to you in this course is called the Form 10-K, which contains the three basic financial statements described earlier.

Why is it called Form 10-K? That designation comes from the Code of Federal Regulations and relates to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Enough said about that. For your information, publicly traded companies must also file quarterly financial reports with the SEC. These are called Form 10-Q reports. Publicly held companies file a Form 10-Q at the end of the first three quarters of their fiscal year and a Form 10-K for the year at the end of the fourth quarter.

Form 10-K

The Form 10-K is required to provide specific information to users. Information required relates to the following:

  • What the business does (its products or services) and the markets or industries the company operates in

  • Risks to which the company is exposed—this would include such things as exposure to swings in interest rates, reliance on very few suppliers, etc.

  • Significant properties owned by the company

  • Significant legal proceedings involving the company

  • Management’s discussion and analysis of the company’s financial condition and results

  • The company’s financial statements

  • Other miscellaneous items

The company is required to file its 10-K with the SEC within 60 days of the end of its fiscal year. That means if a company reports on a calendar-year basis (January through December), it will file its 10-K with the SEC by the first of March.

While there is a lot of important information contained in the Form 10-K, the lesson will limit the information to the financial statements—the reports that accountants produce.

How to Find a Company’s Form 10-K

It is a pretty straightforward process to locate a company’s Form 10-K—if you know where to look. The point of this section is to assist you in knowing where to look. You will use a search tool on the SEC’s website called EDGAR, which stands for Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system.

To illustrate how to locate a company’s Form 10-K using EDGAR, Microsoft will be used as an example. Just follow the steps below in an internet browser.

  1. Go to www.sec.gov.

  2. Hover on “Filings” in the menu bar at the top of the page. Click on “Company Filing Search” to go to the EDGAR company filings page.

  3. In the “Company Name” box, type in “Microsoft.” Hit Return or click on “Search.”

  4. The CIK (Central Index Key) that you are looking for is 0000789019, which corresponds to “MICROSOFT CORP.” This CIK number is a unique number assigned only to Microsoft Corporation. You will note also that in the line below Microsoft Corp is a description of the company’s main business. This is given just in case there are many companies with similar names. Click on the red CIK number.

  5. You will now see a list of filings that Microsoft has made with the SEC. We are looking for Microsoft’s most recent 10-K filing. “10-K” is the name that the SEC gives to a company’s annual report. In the box labeled “Filing Type,” input “10-K” and hit Return. A listing of Microsoft’s recent 10-K filings, with the most recent filing being listed first, should appear.

  6. Now you have a choice. You will notice under the FORMAT column that you can either select “Documents” or “Interactive Data.” As indicated in the previous section, the Form 10-K contains a lot of information relating to the company’s industry, the risks the company faces, management discussion, and financial information. If you wanted to see all this information, you would click on “Documents.” If your focus is only on the financial statements, you could see only those (and the notes to the financial statements) by clicking on “Interactive Data.”

  7. If you click on “Documents,” you will be given a listing of the documents that were filed with Microsoft’s Form 10-K. The first one in the list is the 10-K in all its glory. Click on the red link associated with the Form 10-K. Once you are in that document you can scroll down a bit and find the Index, which has links that will take you to the various parts of the Form 10-K. For example, if you click on the link titled "Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.” You are immediately taken to Microsoft’s most recent financial statements.

  8. If instead of clicking on “Documents” you clicked on “Interactive Data,” you would be taken to Microsoft’s financial statements and notes. This is the same information contained in the Form 10-K that you looked at in Step 7, only now it is in table format. Selecting this option also allows you to download the financial statements into an Excel spreadsheet. You can do this by clicking on the “View Excel Document” link near the top of the page.

You can follow the steps outlined in the previous section to find the financial statements for all publicly traded companies in the United States.