Amid the latest flood of quarterly earnings reports from thousands of publicly owned companies, we looked to the Web for guidance on how to read and interpret the numbers, keep track of winners and losers, and make investment decisions.
Teen analyst. This article on the limited usefulness of corporate earnings statements in trying to determine a company's long-term financial health is part of a site begun eight years ago by a group of teenagers with a keen interest in the stock market. The site has lots of jargon-free information on investing, starting a business, financing college, and launching a career.
Earnings calendar. This page lists all the public companies due to issue earnings for the day, tells when to expect announcements, and provides links to conference calls. For a shorter list, you can create a personalized earnings calendar, too.
Annual reports. Get pointers here on how to read an annual report, with interpretations of the typical income statement, cash-flow statement and balance sheet - and how to spot any troubling numbers. The moneychimp site wants to educate us beyond the level of what it calls "dart-throwing, stock-picking monkeys." It tries hard, but darts are fun.
For a one-page list of report-reading tips that is suitable for framing, see this Web site. The list suggests questions to ask yourself, such as, "Is the report well written, clear, concise and succinct?" and, "Are photos modeled or live?"
Searching Edgar. Companies whose stock trades publicly file complete financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Anyone can search for and access those filings via the SEC's database called Edgar. Here are the government's instructions for using Edgar.
Understanding earnings. Along the way, it helps to know the difference between a 10-K, 20-F, 10-Q, and an 8-K filing - the various annual, quarterly and unscheduled reports that companies are required to submit for scrutiny. Here is the short list:
And here is a site, StockJargon. com, for exploring any and all terms that you might run across in those reports, such as amortization, EBITDA, joint venture, warrants and Warren Buffett.