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Online Resources for Business Research (August 2016): Investments & Finance Resources

Celia Ross

Investments & Finance Resources

A company’s financial statements and its market performance can reveal whether a company is operating efficiently and provide other helpful information on company executives or business dealings.  Often people are looking into a company because they wish to invest in it and want to know how its stock is performing compared to its peers and other index groups.  Digging deeper into a company’s background often means looking into its finances, although this is a much more difficult prospect when a company is private.  The following resources focus on company financial information and such investment-research areas as mutual funds, commodities, and bonds.  Note that most resources cover only publicly traded parent companies that are currently active, and these will be of limited use for information on a subsidiary, merged, or now-defunct or private company.  Better for more elusive companies are the directories and article databases mentioned earlier, or the research tools described in sections following that treat historical stock prices and private equity, venture capital, and mergers and acquisitions.

For information on company regulation, litigation, or investor protection, one can turn to the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s SEC.gov website.  Formed after the stock market crash of 1929, the SEC ensures that everyone has reliable information upon which to base investment decisions by requiring publicly traded companies to report basic facts about their business operations.  Users visit the SEC site to access the resource known as EDGAR, Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval, which covers various company filings going back about ten years, including a company’s 10K report (the SEC-filing equivalent to an annual report).  There is a commercial SEC Live site requiring free registration that offers added functionality to researchers, including the ability to highlight and make notes as well as share and e-mail filings and use other tools.  And for a more visual look at “SEC filings for humans,” Rank and Filed is particularly useful.  Developed by a former SEC analyst frustrated by the lack of functionality and accessibility of filings data, this innovative site allows one to compare companies through graphs, charts, and word-frequency heat maps.

Mergent Online, previously mentioned, is highlighted again because it offers the advantage of exporting quarterly and annual financials in an easy-to-use interface.  NetAdvantage, also described earlier, contains stock price and other market information.  Global Financial Data’s GFDatabase contains historical and current data on bonds, commodities, real estate, interest and exchange rates, stock prices, and other market and economic data.  Some coverage in GFDatabase dates back to the thirteenth century, making it an especially useful resource for historical finance and economics researchers.

Thomson Reuters’ Eikon (formerly Thomson ONE and Thomson ONEBanker) offers a more powerful interface for following publicly traded company and international market data; users will appreciate that its recently rolled-out platform now works with web browsers other than Internet Explorer.  Eikon contains stock prices, analyst reports, news, earnings estimates, and corporate and municipal bond ratings, while additional licensed content expands coverage to include merger and acquisition data, historical currency data, and much more.  Eikon is one of the few resources for searching across multiple analysts’ reports over multiple years, available through Thomson Research’s Investext product.

FactSet is yet another subscriber product that focuses on global markets and public and private company financial data.  And the Bloomberg Professional Service—known as the Terminal—should be mentioned here as well.  One could argue that it is technically not an online (i.e., web-based) business resource since access to the full platform normally requires a specialized terminal, but librarians should be aware of this recognized name in the area of investment and finance.  Bloomberg also hosts a free investment news interface at www.bloomberg.com (CH, Oct’10, 48-0622).

Some business databases contain raw data, and this content can be especially useful (if not critical) for finance and investment research.  The Wharton Research Data Services (or WRDS, pronounced “words”) interface offers the means to access advanced finance and market-research products such as S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Compustat Research Insight database, or the University of Chicago Booth School of Business’s Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP) database, as well as numerous others.  WRDS is generally licensed by larger institutions supporting PhD-level business and economics research.

The online version of Value Line provides overviews and analysis of company stock performance with considerably better searching and filtering options than its popular classic print version available in many public and academic libraries (though often loathed by library staff for its complicated filing structure).  The Value Line Ratings and Reports section presents individual reports that give an overview of a stock’s past and potential future performance.  Economic and market analyses provided in its Selection and Opinion section highlight particular stocks to pay attention to.  The Summary and Index section points to recent Value Line coverage and provides lists of companies ranked highly within its proprietary analysis system, which considers such criteria as timeliness and safety.

Morningstar (formerly known as Morningstar Investment Research Center, and whose print publications are typically available in public libraries) provides research on all kinds of investment offerings but is known particularly for its mutual funds research.  Geared primarily toward the personal investor but comprehensive enough for some professional traders, Morningstar online offerings include historical stock coverage, mutual fund ratings, and personal finance investing tools and calculators.  Morningstar Document Research (CH, Oct’13, 51-0637) was a separate product until it ceased publishing in August 2016, replaced by the Intelligize platform.

A straightforward site to turn to for easy-to-manipulate stock information—including historical coverage and the ability to compare across companies and/or indexes—is the longtime standard in financial-market data, Yahoo! Finance.  Offering free snapshots of companies, it is easiest to approach using the ticker-symbol search.  It offers a symbol-lookup feature as well as tutorials on personal finance and the stock market.  Google Finance, launched in 2006 and making strides against Yahoo! Finance, also provides basic stock quote data and corporate news as well as customizable portfolio features tied to a user’s Google profile.

The Motley Fool focuses on the individual investor, providing information on the basics of investing, getting out of debt, and other consumer finance issues, albeit with a slightly impish tone.  Check on stock performance on The Motley Fool or use its Discussion Board feature to learn what people are saying about a potential pick.  BigCharts (a service of MarketWatch, detailed below) is another popular free resource for building interactive comparative charts of stocks and indexes.  It also offers company and industry information and historical quotes (for nondefunct companies) and lists of the best- and worst-performing industries based on stock-price percentage changes.