More Exotic SEC Filings

I recently wrote about 10-K filings, which are a great source for company and industry research.  Now let’s delve into some of the more obscure SEC filings used for specific events.  We’ll walk through them and take a look at one or two real examples. Continue reading More Exotic SEC Filings

Investor Conference Calls and Presentations

Since 2000, another couple of great resources have been added to the arsenal of business researchers – earnings calls and investor presentations.  Earnings calls are the conference calls company management give every quarter to provide investment analysts at the big banks and mutual funds with context on their quarterly performance.  Investor presentations are made at the events where companies showcase themselves for big investors.

So what changed in 2000?  That’s when the SEC issued Regulation FD, which required that all investors in a public company receive material information at the same time.  Before that, the earnings calls and investor conferences were all closed-door affairs, and only the big financial institutions, more or less, had access.  Now all of this information is freely available online and through other avenues. Continue reading Using Investor Conference Calls and Presentations

What Is In a 10-K?

As most of you probably know, a form 10-K is the annual summary of a company’s performance that all public US companies (and some private ones or companies that trade on US exchanges even if they are based in another country) are required to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission every year.  The 10-K is similar to the annual report, but it focuses less on soothing copy  (i.e., the annual report letter to shareholders is typically useful primarily as kindling, with the exception of Berkshire Hathaway) and pictures for investors and more on hard information.  The filing is one of the best sources of information on a company, but it can be long and rather painful to go through.  I thought I’d write about what I find the most useful.

The sections of the document are always the same, so let’s walk through the main ones.  We’ll use Dun & Bradstreet, the big financial and business information provider, as an example to write about some concrete data points from their 2008 filing (the latest 10-K available since their each year’s filing most often comes out around March of the following year). Continue reading What Is In a 10-K?

Drilling Down on Search Results

In my last two posts, I shared some tips for where you should start your research process (probably not a search engine) and how to get the most out of search engines.  Now let’s talk about working with your search results once you have them.

The main point is to avoid focusing only on the results themselves.  Instead, look for good industry, company, or topic-related sites.  For example, CafePharma has a lot of good information on pharmaceutical and medical device sales forces, ChannelWeb is a good resource for computer hardware and software distribution channels, and Construction Equipment Guide is pretty self-explanatory.  Trade sources are one of the best places to get in-depth information.  Some general business sites like Knowledge at Wharton and the McKinsey Quarterly can also be very useful.  Don’t be satisfied with just the listings from these sites that happen to come up on the search results.  Dig in.

First, narrow the search to the specific site in question by using the search engine “site:” operator or the advanced search page, depending on whether you prefer typing into the search box or using a form.  The search box is usually faster, but for complex queries, it can be easier to keep your thoughts straight when you have dedicated fields for different terms and operators on the advanced search page. Continue reading Drilling Down on Search Results

Search Engine Best Practices

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time on search engines, and I have come up with a list of personal best practices in my attempts to be efficient at finding information.  While I don’t think most business research projects projects should start with a search engine, being efficient at filtering through all the information out there is still important. Continue reading Search Engine Best Practices