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Company Research (MGMT 350): Company Research (BUS 350)

A guide designed to assist you with the Library's online resources for researching companies.

Purpose of the Guide

This guide is intended to help students navigate several Library business databases to find the information needed to analyze a company's ethics, financial data, products, ratios, and competion. 

Public Companies (Shares are traded on a stock exchange or over the counter market).  By law, publicly held companies must provide extensive amounts of information to the U.S. government. This data can be found for free at various government sites or on the web, but they can be extremely difficult to use. The database Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage has complied the data and simplified the presentation to help you with the analysis.

Private Companies (Not traded on a public exchange).  Finding information about private companies can be time consuming as many are not required to file information with the SEC and try to keep their affairs as private as possible.  The first place to begin is with PrivCo, a database specializing in private company information.  Some private companies can be found in the tool listed above. Then search the Internet for company websites. Finally, search business databases such as Regional Business NewsBusiness Source Complete, and Lexis-Nexis. Type in the name of the company and if you retrieve many results, narrow your search with additional terms such as profitability, growth, leadership, ownership.

Step 1. Choose a Database

The Library has a number of business research databases. Each has its strong and weak points, and many students end up favoring one or another.

Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage.  Includes company financials, officer compensation, company news, and industry evaluations. Outstanding industry surveys to analyze an industry and the companies within a particular sector. If you are unsure about how to analyze a company, start with Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage.

  • Then under S&P Publication Search, choose an industry.
  • Click on the links for Industry Trends, How the Industry Operates, Key Industry Ratios and Statistics, and How to Analyze a Company.

Lexis-Nexis.  Provides a variety of quantitative and qualitative information. Here are guides from Lexis-Nexis to help you locate information.

PrivCo.  Financial data on major non-publicly traded corporations, including family-owned, private-equity owned, venture-backed, and international unlisted companies.

 

Step 2. Find Basic Company Information

Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage. After choosing a company, the menu of the first page will display an overview, quotes, industry overview, and basic financial information.

Lexis-Nexis. Choose Companies, and after choosing a company, the menu provides an overview, executives, news, brands, and competitors.

PrivCo.  Financial data on major non-publicly traded corporations, including family-owned, private-equity owned, venture-backed, and international unlisted companies.

Step 3. Ethics and Leadership

Business Source Complete, Lexis-Nexis, Regional Business News

Within these databases, search for the company and add additional terms such as "ethics," "innovation," or "leadership."

Step 4. SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats)

Business Source CompleteSearch for the company, then choose SWOT analysis under Publication Type.

Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage After you choose a company, click How to Analyze.

Lexis-Nexis. Choose Companies, and after you choose a company, click on Zack's Investment Survey.

Value Line Investment SurveyUnder Investment Survey, click on Lookup Company.

PrivCo.  Financial data on major non-publicly traded corporations, including family-owned, private-equity owned, venture-backed, and international unlisted companies.

Step 5. The Financials

Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage After entering the company information the left menu provides financials, dividend and stock splits, estimates, and stock reports.

Lexis-Nexis. Choose Companies, and after choosing a company, the menu provides an overview, and mergers and acquisitions.

PrivCo.  Financial data on major non-publicly traded corporations, including family-owned, private-equity owned, venture-backed, and international unlisted companies.

Step 6. Company Details

Legal Actions.

Lexis-Nexis. Choose Companies, and add the name of the company and type of filing. Click on the appropriate option for Legal or Intellectual Property.


SEC Filings.

Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage After entering the company information the left menu provides financials, dividend and stock splits, estimates, and stock reports.

Lexis-Nexis. Choose Companies, then SEC Filings. Add the name of the company and type of filing.

SEC Filings. EDGAR, the actual government website with the filings.

How to Read the 10-K; How to Read an 8-K; investorshub.com 

Step 7. Industry Profiles and Surveys.

Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage  Choose the industry tab (listed under S&P Publication Search on the old interface).

Business Source CompleteTo locate industry overviews:  Search by NAICS code number and change Select a Field box to IC NAICS Code or Description.  Limit the document type to Industry Profiles.

Lexis-NexisSelect  Search By Content Type.  Then select Companies subset Dossier. Then use the Industry tab. Then Reports.

Value Line Investment SurveyUnder Markets, select Industries. 

globalEDGE industry profiles. Michigan State University information resource.

Deloitte Industry Outlook

Northern Light Millie industry news search tool ... provides competitive intelligence updates on a selection of industries as a demonstration of what is possible in their fee-based service.

Other Places to Look

Articles from trade publications, newswires, and academic journals.

Business Source CompleteSearch for the company, then choose Academic Journal or Trade Publication under Publication Type.

Regional Business News.  Enter company name to gather regional information from newswires, newspapers, and journals not necessaraily found in national & international publications.

Lexis-Nexis.  Search by company names to locate articles from newspapers, journals, and trade journals along with news wires and transcripts.

Country Data

Business Source CompleteType in the name of the country and add "country report."

Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage. Screen searches by geographic region.

World Bank Data. Information about socioeconomic development.


Journals. 

       List of all online business journals held by the Library.

       The best way to find specific articles is to search in an index that covers many journals; for business the key indexes are

      You can also go directly to a few key journals:

Business Week

Fortune

Harvard Business Review

International Herald Tribune. In Lexis-Nexis. Click on Advanced Search, then under "Search Terms" add your terms. Under "Select Source" type "International Herald Tribune" in field for "By Name." Click the red search button. 


Newspapers.  (list of all resources)

Chicago Tribune (1985-present)

Chicago Tribune (1849-1984)

Lexis-Nexis (legal and business coverage)

Newspaper Source. Coverage varies, but includes articles from more than 40 national and international newspapers, and selective full text for almost 400 regional American newspapers. In addition, full text television and radio news transcripts are also provided.

Regional Business News, including Crain's Chicago Business.

New York Times (2009-present)

New York Times (1851-2008)

Wall Street Journal (1984 to the present)

About SEC Filings

Good company research requires the careful reading of filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The  SEC filings are reliable data and reveal the unfiltered happenings occuring within the company. For example while reading the 10-K the phrase material adverse effect would cause one to hesitat because it "commonly signals a very severe decline in profitability or there's a possibility that the firm's operations or financial position could be compromised" (Retrieved December 13, 2013 from investorshub.com).

 

Three filings to read closely are the:

  • 8-K, a report on any material change to the company, including the name and description of the change, and any exhibits referenced in the report.
  • 10-K, an annual report, often filled with critical information about the company.
  • 10-Q, a quarterly status report. It is similar to the 10-K, but the information is generally less detailed, and the financial statements unaudited.
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