'Always read the fine print.' It's one of life's basic maxims, and for the individual investor, still smarting from recent market meltdowns, the saying goes double. Too many claims of miraculous earnings have been revealed as accounting mirages, with small shareholders among the biggest losers. Prudent investors want the whole story, not just the rose-colored version of events that managers tend to portray. Yet how do you uncover it, given the huge amount of available information? The trick is simply knowing where and how to look. Financial Fine Print is a great place to start. Written by veteran financial journalist Michelle Leder, this book lays bare the accounting tricks companies use to whitewash their numbers. Using a clear, no-nonsense style and pointing out numerous scandals and red flags, Leder sheds light on the most obscure yet most essential aspect of annual reports and SEC filings: the footnotes. With the knowledge and techniques detailed in Financial Fine Print, you'll learn: Why one number buried deep within the pension footnote can speak volumes about whether the company's other numbers are trustworthyWhat sorts of insider transactions investors need to pay close attention toWhere companies tend to hide their debt and other obligationsHow some companies seem to take 'special' charges every quarter and how that impacts the bottom lineWhen to avoid a stock because the red flags are simply too numerous'Too many companies would prefer that you not read the footnotes,' notes former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt. 'That should be incentive enough to delve into them.' As investor skepticism builds and the specters of Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, and Global Crossing loom large, companies trying to prove themselves above-board have added more footnotes and documentation than ever to their reporting. This makes learning the lessons of Financial Fine Print all the more important. Because the simple fact is that if you want to own individual stocks, you need to do your homework. 'A must-read for any investor serious about knowing what they own. With the help of some of the best financial detectives, Michelle Leder provides a roadmap for delving beneath the surface -- where most investors dare not tread.'-Herb Greenberg, Columnist, TheStreet.com and Fortune magazine'Obfuscators beware! Michelle Leder has cracked the code. In this invaluable guide to combing the footnotes of financial statements for indicators of accounting tricks and attempts to hide the bad news needles in a haystack of numbers. This is a clear, sensible, and, above all, practical guide that will be indispensable for anyone who invests in, does business with, or works for a corporation.'-Nell Minow, Editor, The Corporate Library'Too many companies would prefer that you not read the footnotes,' observes former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt. 'That should be incentive enough to delve into them.' In fact, not only do companies prefer you ignore the details they are required to report-the pesky particulars on exactly how they account for those whopping earnings-they take calculated steps to make this information as hard as possible to understand. But for those who know how to look, the facts that predict a company's true prospects are usually hidden in plain sight. Financial Fine Print gives you the tools you need to break down annual reports and SEC filings, make sense of the deliberately cryptic language of footnotes, and get the real goods on a potential investment. To make money in today's tough market, investors have to make deliberate, well-researched choices. To do this requires not only having the right information, but also knowing how to decode it. With their obscuring tactics, companies won't help you any. So be advised: those who would help themselves-and expect to profit-should get down to the nitty-gritty of Financial Fine Print. Thirty-five million individual investors jumped into the stock market for the first time during the late 1990s without asking questions about the stocks they were buying. When the bubble burst and the large number of accounting scandals began to grow, most investors didn't know where to turn or whom to trust. Now it has become more important than ever for investors to take matters into their own hands.'Financial Fine Print: Uncovering a Company's True Value' lets individual investors in on the secrets that seasoned professional investors use when they evaluate a potential investment. Buried deep in a company's quarterly (10-Q) and annual (10-K) reports are the real clues to a company's financial health: the footnotes. At many large companies, these footnotes can run for more than 30 pages and for some corporations have doubled in the past five years, making them simply too important for investors to ignore.'Financial Fine Print' spells out exactly what investors need to look for within the footnotes of a company's reports in order to make better, more informed decisions. By using numerous examples of actual footnotes that have appeared in SEC documents, the book teaches investors in easy-to-understand language ways to spot - and avoid - future Enrons and Worldcoms (and Tycos and Adelphias and HealthSouths). For any investor who has spent the past three years watching their investments shrink and has begun to think about getting back into the market, this book provides the critical tools that investors need to know to avoid getting burned once again.