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Links

JustQuotes and DailyStocks supply a remarkable list of links for stocks you enter including quotes, graphs, fundamental information, earnings, searches, etc. Hoovers and Wall Street Research Net (WSRN) Research A Company also provide a list of links for the company you select including graphs, quotes, and EDGAR fillings. EDGAR filings are also now available from FreeEdgar which makes same day filings available. Some other sources of company information include the following.


About Financial Statements

Financial statements are like fine perfume; to be sniffed but not swallowed.
Abraham Briloff

Financial Statements are useful because they provide information which allows investors and creditors to make better decisions. However, because of selective reporting of economic events as well as noncomparable accounting methods and estimates, financial statements are only an approximation of reality. In addition, because of the tendency to delay accounting recognition, financial statements also tend to lag reality.

A primary objective of financial analysis is to determine comparable risk and return of companies and their securities. Financial statements include the Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and Cash Flow Statement. The financial statements are interrelated and should be used and analyzed together. Footnotes are a critical element and should be thoroughly examined (in other words, do a lot of sniffing).

There are many ways in which management can "manipulate" earnings. An example is "income smoothing" which refers to depressing earnings in good years (typically through deferred gains or recognition of losses) and inflating earnings in bad years (typically through recognition of gains and deferring losses).

Differences in accounting methods can cause wide differences in comparability among individual companies, industries, and countries. Keep in mind that the financial reporting system in the United States is the most complex in the world. If you plan on doing your own research of financial statements you should be prepared and educated in analysis and reconciliation of the following areas.

  1. Income recognition methods
    • percent-of-completion
    • completed contract method
    • installment method
    • cost recovery method
  2. Tax issues including deferred taxes and tax rates
  3. Inventory methods
    • FIFO (first-in, first-out)
    • LIFO (last-in, first-out)
    • weighted average cost
  4. Capitalization vs. Expensing
  5. Capital vs. Operating Leases
  6. Depreciation methods
    • straight-line
    • accelerated
    • others
  7. Pension Plans
    • Accumulated Benefit Obligation (ABO) and Projected Benefit Obligation (PBO)
    • Defined Contribution vs. Defined Benefit
  8. Off-Balance-Sheet (OBS) Financing. OBS transactions typically involve hedges of assets and/or liabilities regarding interest rate or currency exposure and commonly involve accounts receivable or inventories. The ability to evaluate the effects of OBS transactions is constrained by lack of disclosure and in some cases the absence of reporting requirements.
  9. Analysis of intercorporate Investments.
    • Cost method - generally below 20% ownership with no significant influence
    • Equity method - 20% - 50% with significant influence
    • Consolidation - 50% and up with control
    • Joint Ventures
  10. Purchase vs. Pooling accounting for business combinations
  11. Translation vs. remeasurement for multinational operations

Last, but certainly not least, keep in mind that firms' performance (and financial statements) over time can also be significantly complicated by inflation.

If the preceding is completely foreign to you, you may want to think twice about basing your investment decisions on your own research. Before venturing into the Analyst's world you might also want to read about the Efficient Market Hypothesis, which questions whether fundamental analysis (analyzing company financial information) is of any value.

For more on financial statements you can go to You can also read about accounting shenanigans at the Center For Financial Research & Analysis. For some in depth analysis of earnings management regarding IPOs and Seasoned Equity Offerings, see these academic papers (in Adobe Acrobat format) by Ivo Welch.


Getting info by snail mail

One of the benefits of the internet is that it saves investors and companies time and money by allowing information to be distributed quickly and inexpensively electronically. Its likely that you'll be able to find most if not all the information your seeking (previously available only by snail mail) via the internet. However, if you want to supplement the information that you can find online with hard copies you can call the companies' "Investor Relations" department (many of the links included here list companies' phone numbers) and ask them to send you any or all of the following.
  • Annual Report.
  • 10-K.
  • Quarterly reports.
  • Proxy Statement - which gives officers salaries, stock ownership, and stock option information.
  • recent press releases.
  • analysts reports if they disseminate them.
You can also request that you be placed on the firms mailing and/or fax list. You can also order annual reports from
PRARS or by calling 800-4-annual.


Personalized Services

     Many personalized services provide quotes, news, charts and other information based on your preferences. Some also offer portfolio tracking if you input transaction prices. Many Brokers with internet services also provide personalized information.

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