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Michael Brett takes the reader step-by-step through the figures and words that make up a company's annual report and accounts. Basic principles such as profit and loss, assets and liabilities and cash flow are explained in detail, as are the critical financial ratios used by professional investors when looking at a company's prospects. Accounting concepts are introduced one at a time with the help of simplified examples, requiring non-existing knowledge on the part of the reader. But understanding how the numbers are put together is only the starting point. The real skill is interpreting those numbers to reveal the clues that they hold about a company's likely success or failure, its stability and even its life expectancy. To demonstrate this in practice, the author analyses a real set of accounts and shows the reader first hand how easy it is to find the truth behind the figures. Finally, Brett looks at the common ways in which accounts can be "fiddled", together with his own tongue-in-cheek interpretation of what lies behind some of the common phrases that flow from the pens of CEOs.