Publicly traded corporations are required by law to publish their fiscal-year data to the public. The Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, regulates the securities markets, including securities exchanges, mutual funds and public company financial reporting. The SEC has established the Electronic Data Gathering and Retrieval database, or EDGAR, to provide free public access to corporate financial information. The EDGAR system can be found at Investor.gov. Additionally, the SEC.gov website provides access to the original financial documents published by corporations.
At fiscal year end, each publicly traded company is required to file a 10-K report. This report includes the company's financial statements, required disclosures and management's discussion and analysis of the company's financial performance over the past fiscal year. On a quarterly basis, each publicly traded company is required to file a 10-Q report that provides similar quarterly information and analysis as the annual 10-K report but without as much detail. These reports are public documents found on the SEC's website at SEC.gov or through the EDGAR system.
Often, investors are not interested in reading the original reports from a public company but still want to learn about fiscal data in a more reader-friendly manner. A variety of websites and publications such as Morningstar.com publish what they believe to be the most important and relevant financial information about public companies. These types of websites and publications usually include analysis and discussion about a particular company, which goes beyond just the raw financial reports found on the government sites.