Canadian Online Annual Reports 2010.

PDF only is declining whereas both other options: JPG show as well as fully-fledged HTML reports are clearly rising.

Another country we decided to include in this years Nexxar Benchmark Analysis is Canada. So far the only companies from North America we more closely looked at have been the 30 Dow components. Starting coverage of Canadian TSX-60 companies not only widens once again our geografic focus, it also brings in the big global players of the ressources industry, which we consider – in current economic circumstances – as an important long-term move.

Development of format offered within TSX-60:

  • PDF – nothing else than the PDF file of the report can be downloaded [2010: 56,7%]
  • JPG show – a 1:1 copy of the printed report pages are converted into JPG/images offering a flip through this image gallery [2010: 13,3%]
  • HTML – the content of the report is converted into HTML [2010: 30,0 %]

The developement of the Canadian market reminds me on early Continental European stages back in 2004/2005, when companies started considering different formats for their Annual Reports than just the download of a PDF file. PDF only is declining whereas both other options: JPG show as well as fully-fledged HTML reports are clearly rising. Later on European companies realised that JPG shows are not adding any additional value compared to PDF. Hopefully we will see a similar process in Canada!


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  1. Both Potash and Nexen Inc. and consistent winners in the annual CICA Corporate Reporting Awards for, among other things, electronic disclosure (website). As a panel judge in this category, I am always interested in seeing how information can be made more engaging and accessible online. I have noticed a number of companies taking a similar approach to Telus It appears to have a tool embedded as part of the report. Have you seen much of this and if so, what do you think of it?

  2. Hi Catherine,
    many thanks for your comment. Yes I have seen the Telus report and I noticed that some others (e.g. Tim Hortons) took a similar approach using a “PDF report builder”. Nothing wrong with this, its an useful thing adding value as users can choose which parts to include into their PDF download.

    The big downside of Telus report is that they provide this tool for the Financial Statements instead converting those information into HTML. At the end of the day these reports do not provide all information in a true online way. Narrative in HTML statements just PDF (with nice builder functionality, though). For me this clearly missing the main goal of online reporting! It’s about reporting and not just showing off. From all our stats we can see that Financial Statements & Notes are focal points of interest to users. Not offering those parts in HTML is not serving a major need.

    We call these reports hybrid reports as they are mixing HTML and PDF. As you said it is a clear trend spreading from the UK. Background as always: saving costs 😉

  3. As in all communications I think it is important to identify the audience you are aiming at. For many users of acccounts an interactive pdf (ie one that has links for note references from say the P&L to the relevant note) is all that is required. For many who know their way around a set of accounts the html versions can be positively confusing. So often you have ‘user friendly’ dialogues which ask you what you want to see and when you type in ‘profit for the year’ it helpfully tells you that there are 276 matching references in this document. I know that the figure I want to see is in the profit and loss account and I know where to find it in the pdf! I know that you will disagree with me Thomas!

  4. Hi Mike, yes I respectfully disagree, but not as you may think. I do not advocate producing fully-fledged HTML financial reports just for the sake of being *online*.

    I deeply respect the approach of lots of companies to stick to just offering a PDF of their annual reprot for download. Looking at most websites of small cap companies I truly see much better ways to invest their money than converting their reports into usable online documents. A good online report (and thats one that brings you directly to the most relevant hit when you are entering a search term!) should be an on top of good online investor relations not instead!

    But what really worries me is, what I addressed to as *showing off trend*: A growing amount of reports offering just a nicely tuned narrative in HTML maybe using flash/multimedia and video but missing out the real stuff of the back section. IMHO this is the real waste of money. Those multimedia stuff is much better paid than the boring and time consuming conversion of tons of tables in the financial statements and notes. Don’t ask the barber whether you need a haircut!

    Succus: Nothing wrong with a straightforward PDF report, but all against a flashy business review claiming to be an online report and linking the statements or notes to a PDF!

  5. I think that many companies that use this hybrid model are missing out on opportunities to expose the linkages between the critical information categories an investor or analyst needs to understand, i.e. the relations between external drivers, strategy, resources/processes and results (e.g. the financials in the back section). Using html for all sections makes this task much easier.

  6. I 100% agree with you Stefan!

    Either full HTML or stick with a PDF.