Canadian firm TELUS, Swedish companies SAS and SCA, and Finnish business Stora Enso have been named as the authors of 2005's best four annual reports.
The yearly global rankings have been compiled for the past decade by Report Watch, which gave the four firms A+ ratings based on criteria covering elements such as the quality of their reports' front covers; charts, ratios and performance metrics; executives' statements; and accounting policies.
While Report Watch notes that the overall quality of reporting has improved over the past few years, its research highlights concerns about the increasing standardisation and blandness of US annual statements, which it blames partly on the effects of the Enron scandal and subsequent regulations including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. As a consequence, the number of US companies in the top 300 has decreased, while the number of non-US firms moving up into the top 50 has increased by 50 per cent in two years.
"We are now down to three Cs: (excessive) complacency, compliance and conformism have become the main characteristics of US reports," said Mike Guillaume, editor of Report Watch's research report. "Thousands of them are as interchangeable as country songs. Differentiating through reports seems to be a secondary concern."
The research also...