Annual Report Survey & Findings
By WithumSmith Brown
"Over 80% of survey participants said they preferred a printed annual report to an electronic version."
Type of Promotional Material/Activity Tested: The value of annual reports and how primary readers perceive them.
Sample Population: 102 primary readers of corporate annual reports (68 individual investors and 34 portfolio managers and securities analysts).
Methodology: Online and telephone surveys featuring ten main questions/statements with three sub-questions to allow survey participants to provide verbal comments.
Top Line Results:
- Close to 80% of participants state that the annual report is the single most important publication a public company produces and is an important tool in making investment decisions about companies.
- 81% of all participants prefer a printed annual report to an electronic version. Reasons cited include: more enjoyable to read, mobility, ability to file for future reference, ability to mark up and take notes on, and ease of viewing photos and other visuals.
- In addition to a printed annual report, 75% agree that a special investor relations website, in addition to the company’s main website, is something they would be interested in visiting.
- 90% believe an annual report’s content should be enhanced by including issues facing the company and its industry, and other important issues of concern (e.g., environmental sustainability, corporate governance), not just the company’s financial and shareholder issues.
- 78% of all participants answer in the affirmative that the traditional, printed annual report is useful for other corporate purposes (e.g., sales, recruitment, company philosophy and positioning, etc.).
- The findings that eight out of 10 investors and analysts prefer a printed annual report over the online version mirrors the 2004 findings of a survey performed by WILink (provider of global investor relations and investment information services). With over 660 investors responding, WILink found nearly 90% of respondents prefer the printed annual report -- despite the wide use of online investment research by participants.
- The bottom line: investors and analysts prefer the printed annual report while also expecting the annual report to be online. With the preference for the printed report in mind, one has to wonder how the corporate trend in making printed annual reports be more like glossy marketing pieces, featuring financials that are summarized or sent separately in the form of a raw, unformatted10-K -- rather than annual reports containing full financial statements -- will sit with investors.
- Investors show an undeniable preference for the printed version of the annual report and aren’t necessarily interested in investing their time in printing out the many pages of the online version or be made to print the full financials posted online to supplement a print version that features little in the way of numbers.
Complexity rating: 1 out of 3 (complex statistical analysis scale: 1=none, 2=moderate, 3=difficult)
Full-text of study not available