Western Europe: Opening the Books

The amount of information disclosed by a typical European corporation in its annual report to the stockholders is, by U.S. standards, hardly enough to cover the head of a pin. Final profit or loss figures are given—without explanation about how they were arrived at. Such basic items as true earnings, performance of subsidiaries, executive compensation, method of evaluating assets, and even total sales are treated as top company secrets. As one result, prospective European investors, having little more to go on than intuition, are leary about sinking their savings into stocks....

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