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Doing Company Research

Peer Group/Competitor Comparison

Goulding -- sports. Photograph shows Canadian athlete George Henry Goulding (1884-1966), who competed in walk races. Bain News Service, 1915-1920. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

For those looking to benchmark a company against competitors or against the industry as a whole, directory sources can provide some information.  While they are best used for finding competitors, most won't necessarily provide overly detailed information, so there are sources that either provide more information or additional context.

For those looking to compare the financials of one company to another, many databases like Mergent Online and CapitalIQ will allow users to download the financials for companies into spreadsheet formats. Also, some trade magazines offer quite detailed lists that contain information that only those in that industry may be interested in. For example, the Industry Week 1000 External includes information on the industry, country, ranking, and financial performance measures. Captured among the financials are revenue, net income, profit margin, revenue growth, total equity, and earnings per share.

For those looking to compare one company to the industry they are in, some of the better sources available are the ratio analysis sources. If you want more information on that, Investopedia has a short tutorial on Ratio Analysis External which has basics and sources of information as well as a nice listing of some of the more common ratios External and a nice dictionary External of financial statement terms. Not all of these peer review tools necessarily go company by company. Most sources offer data by industry, either SIC/NAICS or their own industry breakdown. If you are looking for books about Ratio Analysis the best LC subject heading is "Ratio Analysis."

Lastly, if the company is public and other known competitors are public some databases like Mergent Intellect can include tools that allow researchers to compare pretty detailed company information with other companies.

Selected Print & Internet Resources

The sources here are more  general sources that cross the industries and are good for comparing a company to it industry but do not provide information to the company level.