The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is a federal agency that enforces securities laws, and regulates the securities industry. The SEC was created by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which was passed by Congress in response to the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, to protect investors from fraud and enforce transparency regarding the risks and rewards of investing.
Issues of securities to investors in more than one state must be registered with the SEC. Financial services companies that invest money for clients are also required to register with the SEC.
Public companies are required by law to periodically file financial disclosure documents with the SEC. These reports are available to the public through the SEC's EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis & Retrieval) system. EDGAR offers public filings of securities starting from 1996. Furthermore, pubic companies usually provide electronic copies of their SEC filings for at least the past few years on their own website, on the Investor Relations page.
Pre-EDGAR 10-K reports are available in microform from 1978 to 1996 with the call number *XLF-456.
The four periodic filings required for public companies are:
The SEC's website includes a useful, descriptive guide to all of their form types.
Annual reports are professional documents that condense information from a company's 10-K document, presented with color photos, charts, and a letter from the CEO. They are created for shareholders and potential investors, with information regarding the company's financial performance and current activities. Annual reports are generally less detailed than 10-Ks.
Annual reports before 1956 are in hard copy and can be found in the Dictionary Catalog of the Research Libraries (by the corporate name); 1956-1968 (microcard); 1969-1977, 1996 (microfiche) are in call number *XLF-456. As a result of the Sarbannes Oxley Law of 2002 most companies send a 10K report to all shareholders combining it with their annual report. Recent annual reports/10K reports are available on the web sites of most public companies.
The following databases available through SIBL include EDGAR filings and annual reports for public companies. EDGAR filings start at 1996 or later. Mergent Archives offers annual reports in PDF as far back as the 1920s.