COMMENTS ON REPORT FINANCIALS
What makes an annual report score 10 points in this category:
Quality Printing, Paper and Color. There’s nothing worse than transitioning from a beautifully designed report narrative to an MD&A section that looks like it was printed on newspaper. This happens all too often—great report financials use good paper stock and apply color in meaningful ways, e.g. charts, navigation, etc...
Thoughtful Design. Another turn-off is report financials that show very little care in layout and design. Top reports choose fonts carefully and print in a large enough size; ensure that there’s a good amount of white space for readers’ notations; use an easily navigable design; & include meaningful charts/graphs that contribute to understanding.
Trends we noted this year:
Large Font Size. Historically, most companies work to save money by shrinking down the font size to the minimum required within the Report Financials. This is usually a key source of consternation for readers; we’re glad to see the content provided in an easily readable, well proportioned font. However, the amount of white space available of goes lacking as a consequence—many investors tend to underline the copy and then add their own notations in the margins. So don’t be afraid to add page count to provide the best of both worlds.
Great Depth. Besides the MD&A, the report financials can provide considerable depth for readers about a company. The use of a second Table of Contents to explicitly break out this material is especially welcome. Often, key messages from the Report Financials summarized for readers on a page or two—this helps folks quickly gain a thumbnail of where the company stands today as well as where it is heading. Use color to code.