If you're new to business or are having trouble explaining the ABCs of income and balance-sheet statements to your employees, you might want to look at a free primer that Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. has been offering since 1973.

The 30-page How to Read a Financial Report gives concise, line-by-line explanations of consolidated balance sheets and income statements, accumulated retained-earnings statements, and statements of changes in financial position. The booklet is available from any Merrill Lynch office.