In between the annual reports companies also produce the results of trading in the first half of their financial year. These are generally pretty short documents giving a brief statement of the volume of trade and profit, plus an abbreviated balance sheet minus the copious notes. Some companies give some segmental information as well. The figures are not audited.
Prospectuses and listing particulars
Companies first coming to the stock market must provide extensive details not just about the business but the people running it. The listing rules of the Stock Exchange require all sorts of information about assets, depreciation, government grants, a brief history, auditors, bankers, financial advisers, stockbrokers, solicitors, a complete description of the business, details of management (directors have asked the government to be excused from putting in home addresses in future), staff and premises, what will be done with the money raised, expectations of the immediate future, and so on. So the prospectus is the most comprehensive information about itself that a company ever publishes.
The Alternative Investment Market has slightly less onerous demands for details, but they are still pretty extensive.
Circulars on disposals and acquisitions
Shareholders must be told of any substantial acquisition with details of the offer, why it is being made and how it is to be paid for. In most cases the shareholders will have to ratify the board’s decision to purchase.
Some bids are called ‘hostile’, though it is the business on the receiving end of an unwelcome offer that is belligerent. In such nonagreed takeover battles the target company will send shareholders documents defending its management and trading record, and emphasizing its glowing future as well as the need for continued independence. These tend to be accompanied by extensive disclosures, accounts and forecasts, rivalling the annual report in scope. Sometimes a higher offer seems to conquer such emphatic misgivings.
Shareholder loyalty has grown in importance in recent years, so companies try to keep their investors happy by sending them newsletters. Even more commonly, there are magazines and newssheets distributed to employees, who sometimes also get a shortened version of the annual accounts. Careless companies sometimes tell a different story in house magazines and shareholder reports.