The SEC Division of Corporation Finance issued a new interpretation yesterday that allows a company to post its annual report to shareholders to its website (and keep it posted for at least one year) rather than mail the SEC seven hard copies. Rule 14a-3 under the Exchange Act requires the mailing solely for the SEC’s information, one of the few paper filings still around in the age of EDGAR. Under its current practice, when the SEC receives the hard copies it posts on a company’s EDGAR list that it has been submitted but does not include the actual document if not submitted electronically. The annual report to shareholders substantially overlaps the annual report on Form 10-K in any case. Since most companies already post their annual reports for at least a year, the new interpretation effectively means one less mailing to worry about, though companies must still mail the annual report with the proxy statement when sending out annual meeting materials to shareholders.
The SEC has approved an interim final rule that allows Form 10-K filers to provide a summary of business and financial information contained in the annual report. The rule implements a provision of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Note that this will be optional for companies – they do not have to provide a summary but the idea behind this is that a summary may help investors better digest the lengthier and lengthier annual reports they have been receiving lately. Importantly, however, companies opting to provide the summary must include hyperlinks to the related, more detailed disclosure in the Form 10-K.