Annual Report vs 10-K: Difference and Comparison

In the United States, companies that trade publicly must go through several procedures. These are set by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and are compulsory for all.

One of the procedures includes providing data and information about the working and performance of a company. An annual report and Form 10-K are two methods to do so.

Key Takeaways

  1. An annual report is a comprehensive document that companies publish to provide shareholders and other stakeholders with an overview of their financial performance, operations, and strategic direction.
  2. Form 10-K is a mandatory financial report that publicly traded companies in the United States must file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), containing detailed financial statements and disclosures.
  3. The 10-K offers a more in-depth and regulated view of a company’s financial situation, while the annual report presents a broader, more accessible overview for stakeholders.

Annual Report vs 10-K

The difference between annual report and 10-K is that an annual report is majorly orientated towards providing information to the general public, due to which it is brief and relatively informal. On the other hand, Form 10-K is oriented towards providing information to investors and analysts, due to which it is comprehensive and formal.

Annual Report vs 10 K

An annual report is published in the form of a booklet. It included illustrations and pictorial depictions. Even though it requires maintaining professional standards, it can be a tad bit informal and relaxed.

As it is directed towards the public, it is made available on the website of the company.

Meanwhile, 10-K is a form that is more detailed than the former. It does not include illustrations and pictures and must be very formal.

This is because it must be filed officially with the SEC, after which it is made available on the SEC website. The public is free to view it, however, it is made for investors and analysts.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAnnual Report10-K
AimIt aims at providing information about the company to the general public.It aims at providing information about the company to investors and analysts.
InformationIt provides information about a single year.It includes details about the past five years.
NatureIt is brief and relatively informal.It is comprehensive, detailed, and formal.
GraphicsIt includes pictorial depictions, charts, and illustrations.It does not include any kind of graphics.
LengthIt is not as lengthy as the latter.It is lengthier than an annual report.
PublishingIt is published on the website of the company.It is published on the website of SEC.
InclusionsIt includes a letter from the CEO.It includes a detailed explanation of risks and operations by the senior management.

What is Annual Report?

Every public trading company is supposed to submit an annual report to the SEC at the end of the financial year. This must be done within 90 days after the year-end.

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It is compulsory for every company. Brief details about the company and its work are provided, with graphics and illustrations.

The report is relatively informal and user-friendly. This is because it only aims at providing information to the general public. Investors, shareholders, and analysts do not prefer going through it.

The report is not very lengthy and is published on the company’s website itself.

Several inclusions must be made for this report to be accepted. Some of these include a letter from the CEO, the history of the company, its operations, divisions, subsidiaries, initiatives, etc.

This ats as a yearbook that shows how the company has performed. It is a published booklet that can be freely given to anyone.

Regardless, this practice started back in 1903. This was when the company US Steel published an annual report. Its accuracy was tested and verified by Price, Waterhouse, and Co.

Since then, many companies jumped in on the trend, after which it has now become a compulsory affair.

annual report

What is 10-K?

The Form 10-K is an annual report as well. However, what makes it different is that it is more lengthy, detailed, and formal. It is submitted to the SEC as well, within 90 days after the end of a fiscal year.

There are no graphics, pictures, charts, or illustrations added to the documents.

The aim of making such a report is to provide data and information about the company to investors, shareholders, and analysts. Due to this, it is very professional, and not understood by the general public.

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However, the public is free to view it as it is published on the SEC website.

Unlike an annual report, Form 10-K includes information about the working of the company in the past five years. It gives details about operations, risks, finances, and also includes a balance sheet, cash flow statement, and income statement.

Moreover, an explanation about the entire matter is given by people working in senior management of the company.

Regardless, in its earliest form, 10-K was not very distinguishable from an annual report. They were considered to be one and the same. However, the SEC issued several guidelines that differentiated the two.

The 10-K form has evolved massively since then, with people even including information related to environmental effects and human rights abuses committed by the company.

Main Differences Between Annual Report and 10-K

  1. Annual report aims at providing information about the company to the general public whereas 10-K aims at providing information about the company to investors and analysts.
  2. Annual report provides information about a single year whereas 10-K includes details about the past five years.
  3. Annual report is brief and relatively informal whereas 10-K is comprehensive, detailed, and formal.
  4. Annual report includes graphics whereas 10-K does not.
  5. Annual report is not very lengthy whereas 10-K is very lengthy.
  6. Annual report is published on the website of the company whereas 10-K is published on the website of SEC.
  7. Annual report includes a letter from the CEO whereas 10-K includes a detailed explanation of risks and operations by the senior management.
References
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2491044
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/247755

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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7 thoughts on “Annual Report vs 10-K: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The detailed explanations of annual reports and Form 10-K are both enriching and engaging. The historical evolution of these reporting forms provides a broader understanding of their significance in today’s financial landscape.

    Reply
  2. As an investor, I really appreciate the difference between the annual report and the Form 10-K. It gives a clearer view of what to expect and where to find the specific information needed. The list of references also demonstrates the thoroughness of the research that went into this article.

    Reply
    • I agree, Theresa13. This article has provided me with a more profound understanding of the requirements for publicly traded companies in the United States. It is essential to know these differences for a well-informed investment decision.

      Reply
  3. I find this article to be very informative. It offers an in-depth comparison between annual reports and Form 10-K without being too complex. This is essential knowledge for those involved in the financial sector.

    Reply
  4. I have always had a curiosity about the differences between annual reports and Form 10-K. This article provided clarity while maintaining a high level of intellectual discourse. The historical context adds a fascinating dimension to it.

    Reply
  5. The distinctions outlined here make the comparison between the annual report and Form 10-K much clearer. It was enlightening to read about the historical background that led to the current mandatory nature of these reports.

    Reply
  6. This is an excellent analysis of annual reports and 10-K filings. The comparison table succinctly presents the differences between the two, making it a valuable resource for professionals looking for detailed information on this topic.

    Reply

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