Fundamental Analysis For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Just about any company you can invest in must follow financial reporting rules. That includes companies that are publicly traded. But even some private companies, which haven't sold stock, must provide some financial information if they have $10 million or more in assets and have 500 or more owners.

Most major stock market exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, require their listed companies to provide quarterly and annual financial reports to investors. That includes foreign companies with shares of stock that trade on either exchange.

Some private companies offering generous stock option programs to employees often find themselves eventually having to start filing financial reports. Internet search company Google, for instance, was private for roughly six years after it was founded in 1998. The company quickly hit the $10 million threshold for total assets, meaning it was required to provide financial statements. At that time, Google decided it might as well become publicly traded and sell shares to investors in an IPO because it was going to have to report its financial statements. Google launched its IPO in August 2004.

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Matt Krantz, a nationally known financial journalist, has been writing for USA Today since 1999. He covers financial markets and Wall Street, concentrating on developments affecting individual investors and their portfolios. Matt also writes a daily online investing column called "Ask Matt," which appears every trading day at USATODAY.com.

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