Same approach as any story:
• Clip Searches
• Experts (academic or organization)
• Data/Statistics/Rank (government, company, industry)
• People finding (personal stories about the effects/fallout of the hard numbers)
Identify a trend or development and examine what is likely to happen next and what impact it will have.
(Source: Reuters Handbook of Journalism)
“Interpretation” — coming up with a “meaning,” an “explanation” or a “significance”.
(Source: Beyond News: The Case for Wisdom Journalism, Mitchell Stephens, Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications, New York University; Fellow at Harvard University, Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Spring 2009)
Public companies have shares available to the public and have issued securities
through an initial public offering (IPO) and are traded on a stock exchange or market.
Public companies are required to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission,
and financial statements and other company information is available for public view.
They are required to file specific information: financial, ownership, management, legal issues, strategy.
Searching for Public Company Info
Five Key SEC Filings for Reporters
• S-1 Registration Statement: Often referred to as the Form S-1, this registration statement is a requisite for all new companies. Loaded with useful information
• 8-K Current Report: Reports on all matters of importance in the current life of the corporation
• 10-K Annual Report
• 10-Q Quarterly Report: More valuable content than the company’s published Annual Report. SEC rules require much greater detail & fuller disclosure of company’s financial and other activities, including legal proceedings.
• 13-D Beneficial Ownership: Any outside investor who purchases 5% or more of a company’s stock is required to complete a Form 13-D.
• 14-A Proxy Statement: Loaded with useful information: executive compensation, agenda issues for shareholders’ meeting, board members’ compensation.
IF A REQUIRED DOCUMENT IS NOT FILED ON TIME OR AT ALL, THIS IS A RED FLAG. Check the online publications library in either Nexis or Factiva to see if there is news associated with this event. Further investigation is called for.
Company Research Databases
• SEC Filings Search — Search the SEC Database for company filings.
• Factiva — Search for news on a company or go to Companies/Markets tab, on top for Company snapshot page and associated links.
• Nexis — Can search for news on a company and view Company Dossier (see Company button on left)
• Mergent Online — Company’s history, acquisitions, officers and directors, in some cases going back over 50 years. Also had complete history of financials and financial reports, including Mergent Equity and industry reports.
Other Sources of Information on Public Companies
Annual Reports to Shareholders
You can almost always find these on company website, search in the investor relations or corporate page. They don’t have to represent the true condition of a company, although most do. They will tell you how the company wants to be viewed. Photographs can be an important source of information.
Conference Call Transcripts
Free conference call transcripts
1. Press releases that come from the company itself can be distributed via Business Wire or M2 Presswire or PR Newswire. No context is provided by an outside editor.
2. Newswires such as Associated Press, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswire, Agence France Press, and UPI are published based upon information that is released by the company. This is edited by someone outside the company who may add context or other relevant information.
This can be a public relations tool by a company, just as the annual report to shareholders. Be analytical when evaluating information coming from the site. If you cannot locate anything on a company except on its own website, beware. Phony site www.mcwhortle.com (site set up in 2002 by the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory agencies to warn investors of dangers of investing online via a company’s website.)
Other countries have their own institutions for company filings. For example, UK has Companies House, Canada has Corporations Canada. There is some basic information on private companies here. Some international companies that raise funds in the US must file 20F filings annually.
Industry Information on Companies
• Hoover’s Academic for industry description, data and indicators
• Factiva Industry (under Companies/Markets Tab on top)
• Trade Associations (via Associations Unlimited)
Free Online Databases with Info on US and International companies
• Yahoo! Finance — abs include Investing, News & Opinion, Personal Finance and My Portfolio
▪ Investing has a stock research center with company financials
and SEC filings, annual reports, historical quotes, bonds, options, and other tools
• Wall Street Journal Online’s Market Data Center
Private companies have no obligation to make their financial information public and do not file with the SEC. It is at the discretion of a private company if, and what, they want to disclose about themselves, with the exception of requirements of legal agreements, such as the leasing of equipment (UCC filings) or ownership of property (a public record).
Searching for Private Company Info
How to find info on a private company [this is all self-reported, so verify with company].
Finding Principals, Address, Phone, Total Revenue and History
• Start with a Google search, check company website
• Clip Searches in Factiva, Lexis or ABI/Inform
• Domain Tools domain name registry search
• D&B Private Company Database Search via Mergent subscription. All info is self-reported by company and needs to be confirmed. You can sometimes find principals, number of employees, years in business, history. Check the box for D&B at the search screen.
• Hoover’s Academic
• RefUSA — NOTE: Use Ref USA for Contacts, neighbors and info on principals of business. The info provided on revenues and number of employees, etc are estimations, and generally not reliable or useable unless you confirm.
• Each company must file with the state’s secretary of state office. This should have basic address and filer information, but no financial disclosure is required.
Other information on businesses.
• Search federal courts in PACER (ask for access in Research Center),
state courts eCourts or SCROLL and local courts for filings
• Search LexisNexis US legal tab; federal and state cases search (on right): has some NY Supreme Court case decisions
Corporate Influence on Political Campaigns
• NYS Campaign Finance Disclosure
• NYC Campaign Finance on NYC Campaign Finance Board site
• Federal Donor Lookup on OpenSecrets
• New York City Lobbyist and Client Database
• Federal Election Commission — Tracks contributions to and expenditures by campaign committees. Has filings for all PACs. Also includes press releases, reports, etc.
• Campaign Finance Information Center — seminars, training, and national, state and local news
Selected Economic Data Resources
• FedStats — Links to statistics from 100 federal agencies
• NYC Economic Development Corp — NYC Economic Data page
• NYS Current and Historical Employment by Industry and Unemployment Rate
• NYS Data Center — economic and demographic data
• Crain’s NY CityFacts — NYC economic facts and trends
• NYCEDC StatsBee — Statistics from Economic Research & Analysis department of NYCEDC’s Center for Economic Transformation.
Additional Information on Research for Business Reporting
• What Has Become of Business Journalism, The New Yorker Currency Blog, Feb. 5, 2014
• How to write better business stories, from Journalist’s Resource
• A flashy and simple Beginner’s Guide to Business Research courtesy of Baruch College, another one from Rutgers, and some online audio tutorials, including Covering Private Companies, SEC Filings, and Understanding Financial Statements from the National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University (it will prompt you to log in using your school email address, but that is all that is required.)