COMMENTS ON INFORMATION ACCESSIBILITY
What makes an annual report score 10 points in this category:
Critical Information That Can Be Found in 10 Seconds. Few investors have time to closely read the entire text of an annual report in one sitting. More often, books are skimmed for the exact data that’s being sought. A solid annual report will make the following information readily accessible: ticker symbol; contact name, address, phone, and e-mail; share performance; earnings & dividends; five-year financial and operating data; income statements, cash flow, and balance sheets; & product/market summaries.
Trends we noted this year:
Ready to Make the Call. It’s pleasing to find readily accessible contact information on the rear inside cover of the annual report. We’re especially impressed with how executive management contact information is now being provided; this reinforces the message that stakeholders are important to the company and that opening up a bilateral channel for communications is important to the organization. While a company may be big, it still cares about building a conversation one-on-one with those who are interested.
Performance Thumbnails. As highlighted earlier, love finding one– to two-page spreads that identify exactly what was going on at a company—almost like a medical history, listing diagnosis, prognosis, and vital statistics. Perhaps this can even be perforated for easy removal and reference by stakeholders...something we have yet to see. Nonetheless, the idea here is that companies understand that not everyone has sixty minutes to read an annual report—the more that can be boiled down into easily digestible bits, the better.