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This guide is intended as a brief introduction to various methods of obtaining annual reports.
An annual report outlines an organisation's financial and corporate conditions. Publicly traded companies are required by law to publish an annual report. Universities, government bodies, and non-profit organisations also produce annual reports.
Annual reports are good sources of information about an organisation's history and current performance. They can be used to learn about an organisation's financial health or patterns of spending or growth, and they often describe new programs or initiatives undertaken by the organisation. Indirectly, annual reports indicate what is important to the organisation through the topics included in the report and the way in which the information is presented.
A few sites with basic tips on reading annual reports:
- How to read annual reports (YouTube video from The Investor Channel)
- How to efficiently read an annual report (via Investopedia)
- How to quickly and effectively read an annual report (via HBR blog))
Our LinkedIn Learning streaming video database includes many relevant videos and video courses. For example:
- Corporate financial statement analysis
- Business financials explained
- Corporate financial statement creation
And we have many ebooks that will help you learn to read such reports and statements. For example:
- Reading between the lines of corporate financial reports
- The story underlying the numbers : a simple approach to comprehensive financial statements analysis
- Financial statement analysis
- Financial statement analysis : a practitioner's guide
- Financial statement analysis workbook : a practitioner's guide
- Analyzing financial statements for non-specialists
- How to read nonprofit financial statements: a practical guide
The following sections of this guide list resources for finding annual reports. Most of these resources focus on the reports generated by publicly-traded companies.
Not all organisations are required by law to make their annual reports available to the public. If you are researching a private company, especially one in North America where the public filing requirements are very weak, you will likely not be able to find a published annual report. Privately-held companies are not legally required to publish such information.
In such cases, check to see if a significant portion of the private company is owned by a publicly-traded company as you can sometimes uncover partial information through a parent company's annual reports.
Always start by searching the organisation's site to find the most recent annual reports published by corporations, government departments and agencies and nonprofit organisations.
Some older reports for government departments and nonprofit organisations are also available in the Library collection. Search using the organisation's name as the author in the Library Catalogue.
For registered Canadian Charities, see this Canada Revenue Agency site.
For corporate annual reports and/or financial data, try the following resources:
- Mergent Archives
Includes the Mergent Historical Annual Reports collection: over 1 million annual reports from 1844 to the present, including 150,000+ from Canadian organisations, 370,000+ from the US, and the remainder from a wide range of countries.
Available on one standalone computer near the scanners and photocopiers on the main (3rd) floor of the W.A.C. Bennett Library (SFU Burnaby). See these FAQs for help guides and for details on how to log into this database.
- S&P Capital IQ
Includes annual reports (and much more) from most publicly-traded firms worldwide and is remotely accessible. You must register for an account for access.
- Refinitiv Eikon + Datastream
Available on one computer in each SFU Library branch. Provides detailed financial information on over 70,000 companies from around the world. Includes filings such as annual reports. (Formerly known as Thomson Reuters Eikon + Datastream.)
Annual reports of publicly-traded Canadian companies. All such companies are required to file with the Canadian Depository for Securities, the creators of this site, so the selection is extensive. Click on "Company Profiles" to start your search.
- EDGAR - Search and Access
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) database of corporate filings. Contains annual reports, press releases, and other public documents for most public companies in the US. Note that annual reports are "10-K" forms for the SEC.
- There are also many sites such as Rank and Filed or SecInfo that offer access to the same EDGAR information with different search and display options.
- Nexis Uni
Start by searching within the Edgar Online (AKA: SEC EDGAR Filings, Combined) section of Nexis Uni, and search for your target company name along with terms such as 10-K (an annual financial filing).
This short list of annual reports is intended only as a set of examples (Canadian and American) that you can use to get a better idea of the nature of annual reports. Use the resources and search tips within this guide to look for a specific organisation's report.
- Air Canada
- Ballard Power Systems
- Bank of Canada
- BCE Inc.
- Canada Post Corp.
- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
- Canadian Tire
- Rogers Inc.
- Starbucks Coffee Company