I just concluded reading a book called “Investing Between The Lines” by L.J Rittenhouse. It is an entire book that is dedicated to analysing Chairman’s Statements found in Annual Reports. This book is recommended by the Oracle of Omaha himself. In his latest 2012 shareholder’s letter, on Page 22, he says, “I also recommend… Laura Rittenhouse’s Investing Between the Lines”.
In the book, a model is shown on how to evaluate Chairman’s Statements. An effective communication by management is essential to the investors of the company doing well in the long run. How is this so? When management knows what it wants and communicates well to the employees, the employees feel passionate to work for the company and this in turn allows them to work/serve better. The customers then see that the employees are serving them well and tend to buy more of their products. This is turn gives rise to higher profits and this flows down to better share price performance.
This book is very thorough with many examples given, both with good and bad companies. People who were invested in Enron could have noticed from the statements itself that the company was engaging in something fishy. It also tells readers how to separate the PR fluff from the real deal.
This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how to evaluate management better. After reading the book, I highly recommended you to analyse a Chairman Statement yourself by using the framework given in the book. I did it and I could feel a paradigm shift in the way I looked at the statement.