SINGAPORE (July 29): Shortly after starting my first job as an analyst in Kuala Lumpur almost three decades ago, one of my senior colleagues sat me down and explained how to navigate a public-listed company’s annual report. He went through the balance sheet, profit-and-loss statement and cash flow statement line by line, and gave me advice on how to interpret the notes to the accounts. He also walked me through the other sections of an annual report, and explained why they were there. When he got to the independent auditors’ report, he simply said, “This just tells you the books are okay.”

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