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Research Guide: Company & Industry Information

Scope: This guide is a selected list of resources that will be useful for locating information U.S. and international companies and industries. These resources include print materials available in the Stewart Library, and electronic resources, some of which may be available only to WSU students, faculty, and staff.

 

Table of Contents


Annual Reports/Financial Information

For publicly-held corporations, the two most commonly published sources of information are:

1) Annual reports to the shareholders. include descriptions of the company's operations, goals and financial statistics. Publicly owned companies are required to file annual reports with the SEC. These reports are excellent sources of detailed information about the operations of these companies.
2) SEC Reports (10-K Reports) - the official financial reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.Information in the annual report is often duplicated from the 10K. This is one of the most comprehensive sources of company information.


  • EDGAR Database
    Click on Search for Company Filings, then Companies and other Filers to look up forms for a specific company. The Descriptions of SEC Forms link will give short descriptions of the most common corporate filings made with the SEC. Filings are posted to this site 24 hours after the date of filing.
  • FreeEDGAR
    Requires free registration to access reports.  Search by ticker or company name.  
  • Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe
    Select the 'Business' category from the main menu, then choose 'SEC Filings & Reports'. Search by company name, SIC, or ticker symbol.
  • Annual Report Gallery
    Many reports available in PDF format
  • Public Register's Annual Report Service
  • Annual Report Service
  • EDGAR Database
    Click on Search the Edgar Database, then Quick Forms Lookup to look up forms for a specific company. The Edgar Forms Definitions will give short descriptions of the most common corporate filings made with the SEC. Also contains a link to SIC codes. Filings are posted to this site 24 hours after the date of filing.
  • MergentOnline Database
    Financial profiles of publicly-traded companies in the U.S. and abroad. Coverage includes history, property, subsidiaries, officers, directors, long term debt, capital stock, news, income statement, balance sheet, statements of cash flow, ratio analysis, basic directory information, and more.
  • Company Annual Reports OnLine (CAROL)
    For reports from Europe, Asia, and the US. Requires free registration.
  • International Financial Statements of German Corporations
    Includes link to company homepage and accounting system used.

FINANCIAL STATEMENT ANALYSIS

  • Tips for Reading an Annual Report
  • The Analysis and Use of Financial Statements HF5681.B2W4678 1998
    A good reference on how to use and interpret the footnotes. (It is a good idea when analyzing financial statements to check the "footnotes" for explanations on how various numbers were contrived.)
  • Financial statement analysis HF5681.B2B46 2001
  • How to Use Financial Statements: A Guide to the Numbers HF5681.B2B285 1994
    A good source for novice investors or accountants to understand the balance sheet.

Company History/Profiles

Company profiles will give you a company description, company histories, competitors, and other general company information.

  • Hoover's Handbooks Reference Desk
  • International Directory of Company Histories Reference Table 6 HD2721.I63
  • Company Web Sites
    Useful for financial information, products, and services of the company. Try using the most common form of the internet address: http://www.businessname.com
  • Hoovers Online via Lexis-Nexis
    A good place to start.  To access Hoovers in the Lexis database, select the Business option from the left hand menu, then choose Company Profiles.  From the search screen, choose Hoover Company Reports from the drop down source menu.
  • Use the Company Profiles tab in the Business Source Premier database for a report on that company that includes a company overview, key facts, business description, company history, key employees, major products and services, top competitors, company view, and locations and subsidiaries.
  • Company Web Sites
    Useful for financial information, products, and services of the company. Try using the most common form of the internet address: http://www.businessname.com

 


Company Lists/Rankings

Many periodicals publish company lists. This listing contains only a few selected sites. Select Price's List of Lists to access more.
  • Fortune 500
    Lists the Fortune 500 companies in order of Fortune 500 rank with their revenues in millions. Provides links to company homepages, a company snapshot, industry information, and other info pertaining to the company. 
  • Fortune Global 500
  • Business Week Global 1000
  • Forbes Lists
    Includes Global 2000, International 500, 200 Best Small Companies, 200 Best Big Companies, Forbes 500, and Largest Private Companies.
  • Price's List of Lists
    Many of these lists present information in the form of rankings of different people, organizations, companies, etc. Many of the links are industry categories.

Databases

  • Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe
    Lexis provides extensive information on industries and corporations through full text access to newspapers, magazines, newsletters and financial reports. To access industry news, select 'Business', then 'Industry & Market' to access news from over 25 industries.

  • Business & Industry
    Coverage includes important facts, figures, and key events for international public and private companies, industries, products, and markets. Includes trade magazines, newsletters, and the general business press to international business dailies. Some full text. 1994-present. Updated daily. 

  • Business Source Premier
    Coverage includes management, economics, finance, accounting, and international business topics. Selected full-text.  Use the Company Profiles tab in the Business Source Premier database for a report on that company that includes a company overview, key facts, business description, company history, key employees, major products and services, top competitors, company view, and locations and subsidiaries. 

  • ABI/Inform
    Coverage includes advertising, business conditions, economics, finance, trends, corporate strategies, management techniques, marketing, taxation, and product information. Selected full-text. Early 80's-date.

  • MergentOnline
    Financial profiles of publicly-traded companies in the U.S. and abroad. Coverage includes history, property, subsidiaries, officers, directors, long term debt, capital stock, news, income statement, balance sheet, statements of cash flow, ratio analysis, basic directory information, and more.

  • Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage
    Full-text, includes Industry Surveys, Register, Stock Guide, Bond Guide, and Earnings Guide.


 

Financial/Industry Ratios

  • RMA Annual Statement Studies Reference Table 6 HF5681. B2 R58
    Contains composite financial data on manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing, service, and contracting lines of business. Arranged by SIC code, this work makes it possible to compare one company's performance relative to other companies in the same line of business.
  • Industry Norms & Key Business Ratios Reference Table 6 HF5681. R25153
    Includes both public and private US corporations of all sizes.
  • Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage
    Includes the electronic version of Standard & Poor's Industry Surveys.
    Analysis of current and historical trends on an industry basis. 
  • Value Line Research Center Database
    Provides ratings and reports on industries and major companies. Each industry section covers major issues as well as composite industry statistics.

Industry Sources

PROFILES & STATISTICS

  • Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage
    Includes the electronic version of Standard & Poor's Industry Surveys.

  • Mergent News Reports (For Industrial manual, OTC industrial manual, Transportation Manual, Public Utility Manual, Bank and finance manual, International manual, and Municipal & Government manual and news reports)

  • Service Industries USA : Industry Analyses, Statistics, and Leading Organizations Reference Table 5B HD9981.1 .S47
    Covers service industries (SIC 7011-8999). Part I organized by SIC and includes industry description, general statistics, indices of change, selected ratios, leading companies, nonprofit organizations, occupations, maps, and state-level statistics. Part II provides tables for metropolitan statistical areas and is organized alphabetically by metro area. Data is placed in SIC order for each table. Includes indexes by SIC, service, company, nonprofit organization, metropolitan area, and occupation.
  • Wholesale and Retail Trade USA: Industry Analyses, Statistics, and Leading Organizations Reference Table 6 HF5421.U5W56 1995
    Covers wholesale (5012-5199) and retail distribution (5200-5999) industries. Part I is organized by SIC and includes general statistics, indices of change, selected ratios, leading companies, occupations, maps, and state-level statistics. Part II provides tables for cities and metro areas, organized alphabetically by city or metro area. Data is placed in SIC order for each table. Includes indexes by SIC, subject, company, city, and occupation.
  • Encyclopedia of American Industries Reference Table 6 HC102 .E53 1998
    Volume I covers Manufacturing Industries, and Volume II covers Service and Non-manufacturing Industries. Both volumes arranged by SIC code. Entries include an industry snapshot, organization and structure, background and development, current conditions, and industry leaders. Also includes a bibliography for further reading.
  • Manufacturing USA : Industry Analyses, Statistics, and Leading Organizations Reference Table 6 HD9721 .M364 1998
    Covers manufacturing, wholesale trade, and the retail sector. Vol. I covers Manufacturing by SIC code and begins Vol. II, Manufacturing by NAICS code. Vol. III completes Vol. II and begins Wholesale and Retail Industries by SIC code. Most entries include trends, general statistics, indices of change selected ratios, leading companies, materials consumed, product share details, occupations employed, maps, and industry data by state.
  • Utah Directory of Business & Industry Reference Table 6 HD 9727 .U8 U82
  • Moody's/Mergent Industry Review Reference Table 6 HG 4961 .M68
    Provides comparative financial data by industry for approximately 3,500 companies.
  • Dun and Bradstreet/Gale industry reference handbooks Reference Table 6
    Contains an industry overview, statistics and performance indicators, financial norms & ratios, company directory, and rankings. v. 1-Entertainment and hospitality v.2-Insurance and health & medical services v. 3-Construction and agriculture v.4-Chemicals and pharmaceuticals v. 5-Computers & software and broadcasting & telecommunications
  • U.S. Industry Profiles: The Leading 100 Reference Table 6 HC 106.82 .U6 1998
    Organized in alphabetical order by industry, with two indexes: the Industry Index, which provides access via SIC code, and the General Index, which references all companies, associations, publications, and key government agencies. Entries include references for further reading.
  • U.S. Industry & Trade Outlook Reference Table 6
    Provides evaluations and projections of major industrial and commercial segments of the domestic economy.
  • Value Line Research Center Database
    Provides ratings and reports on industries and major companies. Each industry section covers major issues as well as composite industry statistics.
  • Industry Link
    Links to industry web sites.
  • Industry Research Desk
    Provides tools for researching specific companies, industries, and manufacturing processes. Includes a tutorial on how to learn about an industry or a specific company, industry data, industry home pages, and manufacturing process home pages.
  • Business.com Industry Profiles
    This site includes in-depth and updated industry profiles, industry-specific news, events, and associations for various industries.

 

Industry Classification

  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
    Provides common industry definitions for Canada, Mexico, and the United States. This new system is replacing the countries' separate classification systems with one uniform system for classifying industries. In the US, NAICS will replace the Standard Industrial Classification system (SIC). Provides information about new industries and sectors as well as correspondence information between NAICS and SIC.
  • Standard Industrial Classification Code Search
    Allows a search of the 1987 version SIC manual by keyword, access of descriptive information for a specified 4-digit SIC, and examination of the manual structure. The SIC manual may be searched by keyword or by SIC code from this site.
  • Standard industrial classification manual : SIC 2 + 2 Reference Table 6 HF1042.S73 1988
  • North American industry classification system Reference Table 6 PREX2.6/2:IN 27/997/

 

'How to do Company Research' Tutorials

  • Researching Companies Online
    Nice tutorial for doing research on companies. Offers sites for free company information. Discussion provided for locating high-level company information, finding sales prospects, identifying telephone numbers and addresses, locating company home pages, researching company financial information, monitoring company news and periodicals, reviewing public opinion, using business and financial meta-sites, locating professional associations, finding conferences and seminars, learning about an industry, researching nonprofit organizations, and identifying international business resources.
  • Searching for Company Information
    From the New York Public Library.

Stocks & Stock History

HISTORICAL STOCK QUOTES

  • Historical Stock Quotes (YAHOO)
    Enter stock symbol, then choose historical prices.
  • SiliconInvestor.com
    Enter company name or ticker symbol, then choose "Hist. Prices" from the menu bar. Includes opening, closing, high, low prices and volume.
  • BigCharts
    Select "Historical Quotes" from the menu. Includes closing price, open, high, low, volume, split-adjusted price, and adjustment factor. Displays only one date at a time.
  • Historical Data for S&P 500 Stocks
    One year only. Includes links to other historical sources.
  • NASDAQ
    Click on the stock charts to see the underlying data.

Associations

Associations are potential sources of information on companies. Many have Web pages.

  • Encyclopedia of Associations Reference Desk
  • Encyclopedia of Associations (International Organizations) Reference Desk
  • Yearbook of International Organizations JX1904 .A42
  • National trade and professional associations of the United States, 1999 Reference HD2425.N37 1999
  • The Directory of Business Information Sources Reference HF54.52 .U5 D567 2000
    Includes associations, newsletters, magazines & journals, trade shows, directories & databases, and Web sites.
  • Associations on the Net (Internet Public Library)
    "A collection of over 2000 Internet sites providing information about a wide variety of professional and trade associations, cultural and art organizations, political parties and advocacy groups, labor unions, academic societies, and research institutions. Abstracts summarizing information about the association and its site are provided."

Guides to the Literature

Guides to the literature are useful in leading you to many other sources that not listed in this guide. Use these to help you identify other sources for a comprehensive search.
  • Business Information Sources Reference HF5351.D16 1993
  • Business Information: How to Find It: How to Use It Reference Table 6 HF5356.L36 1992
  • Encyclopedia of business information sources Reference Z7164.C81E93

Research Tips for Company Research

A few questions to ask yourself before you begin:

  • What company are you researching?
    If you need help in selecting a company, try the Fortune 500 web site. This site lists the Fortune 500 companies in order of Fortune 500 rank and provides links to their homepages, a company snapshot, industry information, and other information pertaining to the company. Since these companies are large publicly held companies, it will be relatively easy to find information.
  • Is the company public or private?
    a
    . Determine whether the company is publicly held, privately owned, or a subsidiary of a publicly held organization. Remember, information is more easily found for publicly held companies.
    b. Public Company stock can be bought on public stock exchanges. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires that public companies disclose financial information to the public. Therefore, there is a lot of financial data and disclosures about public company practices.
    c. Private Company stock is typically owned by the principles in the company (founders, family members key employees, etc.). Financial disclosures do not have to be made to the public. The best strategy is to search for a company web site, news sources or inquire directly to the company. See Private Company Resources for suggestions on how to research privately held companies.

Beware of 'hidden company names' when researching a company. If you cannot find any information on a public company after searching by company name, try potential variants of the company name or use the ticker symbol. Here are a few examples:

  • DuPont: The company's name is actually E I Du Pont de Nemours & Company. For companies with initials in their name, try searching both forms. Another example is E. W. Scripps.
  • IBM: is actually International Business Machines
  • AT&T: really IS AT&T (but used to be American Telephone and Telegraph Company)
  • The Gap: Some directories will list this company under the T's, while others will list it under G. If a company has a 'The' at the beginning of its name, try both.
  • Alcoa: Commonly known as 'Alcoa', it's proper legal name is Aluminum Company of America. Some directories list it under 'Alcoa', and some under its proper name.
  • Using punctuation: Some databases don't mind periods or commas- they simply ignore them. Others are more picky: if you don't include punctuation, you won't get results, OR including punctuation gives you no results. Again, if you're unsure, try both.

 


Research Tips for Industry Research

Some questions to consider include:

  • What are the industry trends and areas of growth?
  • Who are the leading companies in the industry?
  • What products and services are in the greatest demand?
  • What new technologies are impacting the industry?

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Updated June 23, 2006 . Please send comments to Ed Hahn.
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