A Form 10-K is an annual report required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), that gives a comprehensive summary of a company's financial performance. Although similarly named, the annual report on Form 10-K is distinct from the often glossy "annual report to shareholders," which a company must send to its shareholders when it holds an annual meeting to elect directors (though some companies combine the annual report and the 10-K into one document). The 10-K includes information such as company history, organizational structure, executive compensation, equity, subsidiaries, and audited financial statements, among other information.
Companies with more than $10 million in assets and a class of equity securities that is held by more than 2000 owners must file annual and other periodic reports, regardless of whether the securities are publicly or privately traded. Up until March 16, 2009, smaller companies could use Form 10-KSB. If a shareholder requests a company's Form 10-K, the company must provide a copy. In addition, most large companies must disclose on Form 10-K whether the company makes its periodic and current reports available, free of charge, on its website. Form 10-K, as well as other SEC filings may be searched at the EDGAR database on the SEC's website.
In addition to the 10-K, which is filed annually, a company is also required to file quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. Information for the final quarter of a firm's fiscal year is included in the annual 10-K, so only three 10-Q filings are made each year. In the period between these filings, and in case of a significant event, such as a CEO departing or bankruptcy, a Form 8-K must be filed in order to provide up to date information.