A public company is required to file a document disclosing financial statements and business risk every quarter with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) called a 10-Q. Where can investors find the 10-Q document, and why is it important? In this Motley Fool Live segment from "Beat & Raise" recorded Oct. 5, Fool.com contributors Jason Hall, Brian Withers, and Nicholas Rossolillo talk about where the 10-Q can be located and the important information it contains.

10 stocks we like better than Walmart
When our award-winning analyst team has an investing tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

They just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Walmart wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

See the 10 stocks

Stock Advisor returns as of 6/15/21

Jason Hall: We're about halfway through, so let's go ahead, Nick, and let's talk about the real earnings report, the one that the company has filed with the SEC.

Nicholas Rossolillo: Yes. The 10-Q, the real financials report. Did you want me to share?

Hall: Yeah, I think that would be a good idea.

Brian Withers: Why don't we put one up to the front and see what's in it.

Rossolillo: Let's see here, I can do this.

Hall: Maybe Adobe (ADBE 2.01%) if you have that one handy, that might be just-

Rossolillo: I do have it down here, and I know I can share screen because I've done it before.

Hall: There you go.

Rossolillo: There we go, so the 10-Q, you can find this, in our prep for this, Jason, you had asked where can we can we find this. I find it easier to pull it directly from the company's investor relations page, but you can also get it off the SEC site, which you mentioned is nice because you can find all SEC filings there for all companies. But it's an ugly looking website also.

Hall: Its ugly and it's wonky. Let me say this, if there's one thing I like about about EDGAR and that's the SEC's filings website for us folks. It's consistent and it looks the same for every company. You don't have to learn every company's Investor Relations website and where do they keep their SEC filing, it's going to link it back to EDGAR anyway, because some do. It's one less thing can make it a little bit easier. For example, if you're going to block out two hours on Saturday and you're just going to look at 10-Qs for your companies, it might be faster to do it on EDGAR, but that's after you spend a month learning EDGAR.

Rossolillo: [laughs] Absolutely, yeah, at least. Some companies, it almost seems like trying to hide these things. Where is the SEC filings page? I know it's here somewhere, it has to be. But Adobe is easy, they have a nice little tab for financial statements, and so this is what the cover of the 10-Q looks like. Here's other stuff that you can find it here. The condensed financial statements, a lot of this is going to be in that press release and then discussed shortly after on the earnings call. Some of this stuff is going to be redundant if you've already looked at the actual earnings press release. But there's also going to be this much more in-depth discussion and analysis of the business itself.

Hall: Yes. I want to point out in this case, that starts on Page 25 and goes to Page 38. Press releases are like a page, usually, so substantially more information.

Withers: This is the good place. If the marketing expense goes up, you will likely find something in here that talks about why. It won't be nearly as much detail as you want, but you will at least have a starting point.

Rossolillo: Right. Really important point is where they're going to disclose some very specific metrics beyond just the fluff, the high-level items. Most importantly, I think what we'll find in these 10-Qs are the risk factors. Jason, you were talking about the confirmation bias that we have. We're looking for confirmation that what we think to be the case is still happening because we have a vested interest in the company. When earnings roll around, we really want the narrative to be positive, so we're going to look for things that bolster our conviction that that's what's happening, but it can be a really dangerous thing to fuel about our psychology all the time. So looking at risk factors and thinking about ways that we could be wrong is so important, and this is where we can get started, and thinking about that. What are the things that could, or are, going wrong with the business, either internal or external?

Withers: I'll make a point on that, Nick. I remember reading in some of the Chipotle (CMG -0.12%) annual reports. It's easier to find some of these things in the annual one, but it's the same, is Chipotle had food safety issue called out and said that if we get people sick, here's the things that would happen, and so clearly, somebody sat down enough and said, what's something that could impact our business and wrote out, why? Do they have a detailed plan? Not necessarily, but it's a risk, and I thought it was great that it had been in there for years before Chipotle had an event that had a major impact on its brand reputation.

Hall: One thing, and just to circle back on these cadence of these documents of these events, you get your press release, you get your 10-Q, and you've got your earnings call. This is, again, for US-based companies, it's different for European companies and countries that are not bound by the SEC that operate in other countries, they are only required to file three 10-Qs, and then their 10-K, so their three-quarterly reports and annual report, and then they hold an annual meeting. There's no requirement to have conference calls, there's no requirement to do any press release.

A few companies don't like, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -0.36%) (BRK.B 0.11%) for example. They just file their 10-Q, and typically, they'll issue a press release if they've done that. You're not going to hear Warren Buffett touting their quarterly results. You're not going to hear him talking to analysts every quarter, and they haven't in a very long time. The one that matters the most to me in general is the only one that the SEC requires and that's the 10-Q and of course, the annual 10-K, because guess what? It's a disclosure of financial results, a disclosure of the balance sheet, it's a disclosure of its operating results, it's a disclosure of risks. That's a big difference than touting its successes and providing focus. You're focusing just on those GAAP numbers. I just want to really focus on that with the 10-Q, and again, the 10-K, of course, which is the annual report.