Whenever I travel to Africa, I always make sure to leave plenty of space in my suitcase. I’m not reserving room for souvenirs. No. This nerd is saving space for any annual reports and financial statements that I manage to beg, steal, or borrow during my visit.
You see, tracking down financial reports is one of the biggest challenges to investing in Africa’s frontier markets. Many listed companies in the region have only rudimentary websites (if they have them at all), and investor relations doesn’t seem to be a priority for far too many firms. Fortunately, this situation improves with each passing month, but obtaining current financial data for African companies remains a scavenger hunt.
So, where can an investor turn if a company’s website doesn’t post financial results? Here’s a list of my favorite resources.
If you’re looking for an annual report, your first stop after checking the company website should be AfricanFinancials.com. To my knowledge, this is the most comprehensive collection of free African annual reports on the web. The library presently consists of more than 3500 reports from 18 African countries. It’s brilliantly organized by country, year, and sector.
The biggest downside of the site is that the vast majority of files are not in PDF form. Instead, they are posted in an unwieldy Flash-based format. I’m pleased to see that the site is beginning to post some PDF files. Hopefully, the entire library will soon be available in this format.
The only other limitation of the site is that it does not (yet?) post interim financials – only annual reports.
The Botswana Stock Exchange posts company financials for listed companies here. Click on the company that you are researching and the files are listed in descending chronological order in the box labeled “Company Announcements” in the upper right corner of the page.
Note that the site doesn’t always post copies of annual reports, but it does have a fairly comprehensive collection of interim and year-end financials in PDF format.
Do you speak French? If so, you can make use of the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres’ (BRVM) collection of downloadable financial updates. The files are organized solely by the date that they were published – not by company – which is not very user-friendly, and it does not include annual reports, but the collection is comprehensive otherwise.
Trying to find financial data on a Ghanaian company? Try Annual Reports Ghana. The site has a very good, intuitively organized collection of annual reports and interim financials in PDF format. My only complaint about the site is that the annual report files are typically only extracts from the complete report. The files contain the financial statements, but omit management commentary and footnotes. [Update: Annual Reports Ghana will provide complete annual report files upon request. Simply contact them via this enquiry form and specify which report you’d like to receive. You will then be emailed a temporary link to the complete report that is usable for 24 hours.]
The Ghana Stock Exchange also posts financial reports here. Unfortunately, they are not archived terribly well. If you are looking for a particular report, you will need to know an approximate date on which the report was released, as they are not organized according to company. Note, too, that the Ghana Stock Exchange does not compile annual reports – only interim and year-end statements.
The Nairobi Stock Exchange advertises a library of annual reports and company financials, but they charge about $11 per month for access to it. I’ve never subscribed to it, so I have no idea how comprehensive it is. Buyer beware.
The Stock Exchange of Mauritius posts downloadable company results (but not annual reports). But if you’re looking for a report from years past, you’re out of luck. Only the most recent updates are available. Older reports soon fall off the site.
Looking for a good source of downloadable annual reports and financials for Nigerian companies? So am I! If you know of a good one, please post it in the comments. [Update: Naija Lo Wa and Proshare both post numerous financial reports on Nigerian companies. Most of the files are broker-authored, but a determined researcher may be able to turn up an obscure annual report or set of audited results.)
The Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange links to company financial results here. Like most African stock exchange websites, the results do not include annual reports and they are not arranged by company. You must scroll down the chronological list to find what you need.
The Lusaka Stock Exchange curates a small library of Zambian annual reports and financials. It’s far from comprehensive, but the files are downloadable.
You can find a very small collection of Zimbabwean financial results on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange’s website. The few reports available are current, but it’s not clear to me how diligently the exchange posts results. If you’re looking for older reports, you’d better look at AfricanFinancials.com or the company’s website.
Have you found a good source of financial reports for African companies? Tell us about it in the comments!