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Conclusion

From going through a range on online review, we encountered many variations in Web site design quality, accessibility, and levels of information. For example, Motorola provided only a “summary annual report,” which did not include notes to the financial statements. Considering that online financial review is more popular today than ever before, it is surprising that Motorola's reports lacked complete information.

One problem became quite obvious during the process of researching and accessing online annual reports: There is no consistency in format or design of online financial information. This is to be expected. Online access is relatively young, and the Internet itself has been available to home computer owners for only a few years. In time, we may expect to see some degree of uniformity or easier access; for now, we have to be able to explore until we find what is often well-hidden information. The inconsistency is universal. For Altria, we found a link to “annual reports” on the home page, and by our fourth step, we were reviewing the consolidated statement of earnings. It took eight steps to get to the earnings information on IBM's Web page.


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