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Annual Report

A yearly document summarizing a company's operations and finances.

Business Glossary provided by

The annual report is a thorough presentation of a company's performance over the past year, including detailed financial statements, discussions from management, and analysis of financial conditions and results. It serves as a fundamental communication tool for stakeholders to understand the company's financial health, strategic direction, and operational outcomes. It is often required by regulatory bodies for public companies.

Context of Use:

An annual report is a comprehensive document produced by a company at the end of each fiscal year, intended to provide shareholders and other interested parties with detailed information about the company's activities and financial performance throughout the preceding year. It is a key communication tool used by both public and private companies, although public companies are legally required to publish them. The report includes a mix of narrative, covering both quantitative and qualitative achievements, financial data, a letter from the CEO, future outlook, and more.


The purpose of an annual report is to give shareholders and other stakeholders a detailed look at a company's activities, financial status, and strategies. It serves to inform these stakeholders about the company's leadership, market position, and growth prospects. Annual reports also serve a regulatory purpose for listed companies, satisfying legal requirements set by stock exchanges and regulatory bodies.


A typical annual report for a publicly traded company will include the company’s audited financial statements, including the income statement, balance sheets, and statement of cash flows. It also often features a letter from the CEO, management's discussion and analysis (MD&A), market segment information, corporate governance details, and other relevant information to provide a full picture of the company's performance.

Related Terms:

  • Financial Statements: Formal records of the financial activities and position of a business, person, or other entity.

  • Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A): A section of the annual report where management discusses the company’s performance over the past period and its future prospects.

  • Corporate Governance: The system of rules, practices, and processes by which a company is directed and controlled.

  • 10-K: An annual report required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), providing a comprehensive summary of a company’s financial performance.


  1. What information is most important in an annual report?

    The financial statements and MD&A are considered the most important parts of an annual report, as they provide detailed information about the company’s financial health and management’s perspective on its performance and market conditions.

  2. Who prepares the annual report?

    The annual report is prepared by the company’s management, including the CEO, CFO, and other senior executives. It is also reviewed by external auditors, especially the financial statements.

  3. How can stakeholders use an annual report?

    Stakeholders use the annual report to evaluate the company’s financial condition, understand its strategic direction, assess management performance, and make informed decisions regarding their investment or interest in the company.

  4. What makes a good annual report?

    A good annual report is transparent, comprehensive, and provides a balanced view of the company’s successes and challenges. It should be both informative and engaging to meet the needs of a diverse range of stakeholders.

  5. Are annual reports available to the public?

    For publicly traded companies, annual reports are available to the public and can typically be found on the company’s website under investor relations sections. Private companies, however, may not make their annual reports publicly available.

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