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10-Q vs. 10-K vs. Annual Report: A Complete Comparison

Nov 21, 2022 By Triston Martin

You need to be familiar with 10Ks, 10Qs, and annual reports if you plan on taking your small business public because it has grown to the point where it is ready to do so. Owners of smaller businesses might also use these tools to help them better understand the financial health of publicly listed corporations and make more informed investment decisions.

Every year, shareholders, potential investors, and government regulatory agencies must receive updated information from publicly listed corporations regarding the companies' financial and operational health. Although a 10-K form may accomplish the same objectives as an annual report, many businesses create the two reports independently to cater to their target demographics.

What Is A Form 10-Q?

The Form 10-Q compares the current fiscal quarter to the one that just ended. It looks like a condensed 10-K, the company's yearly financial report. The 10-Q often contains less data than the 10-K. In contrast to the 10-K, firms are not required to have their financial accounts audited.

The 10-Q is only required three times a year, although it must be prepared at least quarterly by firms (the fourth quarter is when form 10-K is filed). Companies will also highlight any unexpected conditions or intriguing data points that may explain a better or worse performance to provide context for the quarterly figures.

Management may provide insight into the company's finances as well. This type of detail is required from management in the 10-K, but where length is demanded in the 10-K, corporations may be much more concise in the quarterly scope of the 10-Q filing.

What Is A Form 10-K?

There is an annual filing requirement with the SEC for all companies with a public stock market listing called a 10-K. Investors are given access to a variety of information about a firm via this form, such as the business's history, senior management, financials, and risk considerations.

Only publicly listed corporations are legally obligated to publish their financial information. Even though only publicly traded companies are required by law to submit a 10-K form, privately held companies are permitted to do so if they choose. Companies must produce not only a 10-K report but also a 10-Q report and an 8-K report.

An 8-K filing is needed by the SEC whenever a company is through a big event that shareholders need to be informed of. Examples of such events include acquisitions, executive changes, bankruptcies, etc. A 10-Q is a quarterly report of a company's performance and financial status.

What Is An Annual Report?

A company's annual report summarizes its health and success in terms of money over a year. Companies that trade on public exchanges must disclose extensive financial data to the general public, the press, potential investors, shareholders, and government regulators.

Investors who attend the annual meeting also receive a copy of the company's annual report for reference. The report includes a letter from the CEO, key financial statistics, company highlights from the previous year, and forthcoming product announcements. Instead of creating two papers, some businesses opt to utilize the 10K as their annual report.

The annual report of a corporation is usually available online. When deciding what information to assemble and communicate with your stakeholders at the end of the year, having a working knowledge of what is included in annual reports of publicly listed firms may be helpful.

Comparing 10-Q, 10-K, And Annual Report

When looking at many companies side by side, these forms become invaluable. If you want to know the ins and outs of a firm, you should get your hands on its rivals' annual reports, 10-Ks, and 10-Qs. It is possible, for instance, to gain a deeper comprehension of one oil major by studying all oil majors simultaneously.

Check over the statements and see if you can see any discrepancies. Various businesses may use various financing structures. DuPont's Return on Equity (ROE) factors may shed light on what motivates financial results. Looking at metrics like the growth rate of sales per sq ft and interest coverage ratios may also help you predict the market leaders.

A red flag should go up if one company goes into detail on a new accounting rule that would significantly alter the way it reports results. In contrast, another company merely brushes over the topic.

Similarly, although one business may highlight an opportunity facing the sector, another may be more conservative, reporting on performance for the most recent reporting period. You have more knowledge at that time. Thus investing in the prior firm makes more sense.

10-K vs. Annual Report

Companies must also distribute an annual report to their stockholders per SEC rules. Some corporations rewrite their 10-K and call it their annual report since the material is identical. It's possible, though, that some businesses may use their annual report to include extensive explanations of their guiding principles and long-term objectives.

Unlike the 10-K, which can only contain words and text, annual reports can be far more colorful, picture-heavy, and glossy. More financial details may be found in a 10-K because it is a legal requirement for firms to provide certain data.


There is no denying that the yearly 10-K report is one of the greatest resources for gaining access to a company's historical documents. It's the new filler for the fourth quarter, in place of the usual 10Q.

It includes the annual results, which must be audited no matter what, as well as unusual business details like the revenues of overseas subsidiaries, the creation of any new legal obligations, the issuance and maturity of any bonds, and the compensation of the company's top executives.

The 10K reports are a great resource for assessing how CSR initiatives have affected a company's bottom line. Compared to the 10Q, the 10K does a much better job of projecting into the future and comparing it to the prior year.

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