Data Sources

At the risk of stating the obvious, you cannot analyze a business without information. The advent of online data has made it much easier to access information but the search is often exhausting. I have tried to list useful data links in this page, categorized by project section, but with a caveat. There are two truths I have discovered about online links. First, links die, and I don't always get around to updating them. If you find a dead link, let me know. In addition, if you find other sites that are useful in answering these questions, please pass on the information. Second, free sites that provide information inevitably become paid sites. While I have tried my best to stay with information that is freely accessible, things may have changed.

I. Corporate Governance

To find out who the top managers in the firm are, as well as who sits on the board of directors, check out the companyís annual report. You can get the annual reports of some companies on line at www.reportgallery.com. If that does not work, you can always try the home page for the company. Many companies have their annual reports online. To find out a little more about the people who serve on the board of directors, check out the web site called theyrule.net. You can also get more information on recent filings with the SEC on insider trading and holdings from www.freeedgar.com as well as from the official SEC site which is www.sec.gov/edgarhp.htm. The statement that you will find most useful for information on who the directors are, how much stock they hold and compensation, is 14-DEF. (You can get a description of the forms and their contents on the edgar site)

To get some external perspective on how the board of directors of your company measures up in terms of keeping an ey on management, you might want to look at what one our largest (and one of the earliest active investors) CALPERS has to say about the issue of corporate governance at www.calpers-governance.org. They highlight 10 companies that they choose to focus on for severely underperforming their peer groups. You should also check Business Week's annual issue ranking the boards of directors of large U.S. companies.The most recent issue can be obtained on line at www.businessweek.com (enter best boards of directors in the search box). Finally, check out your company on Yahoo! Finance. Under the profile for your company, you will see a corporate governance rating for your firm where you will be told how your firm falls relative to the market and the sector in terms of corporate governance.

To get a sense of how much and how your CEO is paid, you should check Forbes, which carry annual rankings on this matter. Forbes has an online site that ranks CEO compensation and provides the company's rankings in terms of performance - see Forbes. If you dig a little deeper, this same site breaks down the CEOís compensation into its different components.

To get data on analyst coverage and views of this stock, try the site maintained by Zacks Investment Research. You can enter the symbol of a stock and get pretty detailed information on it at www.zacks.com in the Free Research Box. You can get the same information on the Morningstar site, under earnings estimates for your firm. (www.morningstar.com -enter symbol)

Finally, to get a sense of socially responsible investing, check out the web site for social investing at www.socialinvest.org. One of the larger socially responsible funds, Calvert, has its site at www.calvertgroup.com. For environmental issues, you will get a listing of "green" companies by going to the site for Sustainable Business. To get a labor perspective on firms, you can check the AFL-CIO labor site, with its distinct perspective on CEO pay and union labels (www.aflcio.org; look under corporate watch). For more general news about corporate social responsibility, try the CSR news wire.

II. Stockholder Analysis

To get information on the percent of stock held by insiders and institutions check out the Value Line page on this company; there is a box that lists out percent held by each. You can get more updated and detailed information at the SEC site (www.sec.gov/edgarhp.htm). The insitutional ownership can also be obtained from the daily stocks web site, under www.dailystocks.com - profile or from the Yahoo! Finance site. You can also get an update on companies where there has been significant insider activity at the Yahoo! finance site. You can also check my data set on typical insider and institutional holdings by sector for U.S. companies. You can also get a sense of how this firm is classified (value versus growth, small versus large cap) by going into the Morningstar web site and entering the symbol for your firm (www.morningstar.com - quicktake reports). When you get the company's snap shot, click on Investment Style.

To find out if the company is listed in multiple markets, find a Bloomberg terminal, and enter your company's symbol. All of the listings that this company has around the world will be enumerated.

III. Risk and Return

Getting regression betas for your company is easy, though no two services will give you the same beta for the same company. You can get a beta from the Yahoo! Finance web site for your company and compare it to the beta on the Morningstar site.

You can get unlevered betas by industry in the data set on my web page (indbetas.xls) though Yahoo! finance does report a sector beta on their competitors page. To get the breakdown of operating income and revenue by business sector, you might want to check the annual report (www.reportgallery.com) and the 10-K report (www.sec.gov/edgarhp.htm). The market value of equity and the inputs needed for estimating the market value of debt should be available in the same sources. (The maturity of the debt should be listed as a footnote to the balance sheet in the 10-K report.)

To find the rating for your company, you can check the handbook on ratings (available in most libraries) issued by Standard and Poors. You can also e-mail a ratings request to Standard and Poors at www.standardandpoors.com. Moody's is more with the times and lets you look up the ratings for companies online (enter the name of your company and search); you will have to register but it is free. To get the spreads that go with the ratings, you can use the data set (ratings.xls) on my web page that lists the default spreads (over the long term treasury bond rate) for each ratings class. You can also get updated default spreads (under corporate bond spreads) and your company's bond rating (by going to corporate bonds and typing in your company name under issue) from www.bondsonline.com; this site used to be free but has unfortunately become a paid site. You can get slightly dated but usable spreads from my site. If you want to estimate a synthetic rating, you should examine the table on my web site that lists ratings as a function of interest coverage ratios on my web site (ratings.xls)


If you have price and dividend data on your firm, on a monthly basis, for up to 5 years, you can use the excel spread sheet on my web site called risk.xls to run to regression and get the beta, alpha and R-squared for your firm.

IV. Measuring Investment Returns

Most of the information you need to estimate returns on equity and capital comes from the financial statements. You can obtain the complete financials for a firm from its annual report (www.reportgallery.com) or 10-K (www.sec.gov/edgarhp.htm), and you can data from the previous years by visiting the morningstar data site or a comprehensive site maintained by daily stocks (www.dailystocks.com).

The net income and the operating income can be obtained from the income statement and the book values of equity and debt can be obtained from the balance sheet. The costs of equity and capital should already have been estimated in the risk and return section.

To get industry averages for returns on equity and capital (roe.xls), as well as economic value added and equity economic value added, examine the data set on my web site (eva.xls).

V. Capital Structure Choices

To find out the break down on the types of securities and financing that your company has outstanding, check the footnotes on the 10-K report (www.sec.gov/edgarhp.htm). To get the other inputs needed for the analysis, you should check the historical financials on the firm. To get industry average numbers for these inputs, check the data set on my web page for capital structure variables (indcapst.xls).

VI. Optimal Capital Structure

To get the inputs needed to estimate the optimal capital structure, examine the 10-K report (www.sec.gov/edgarhp.htm) or the annual report. The ratings, interest coverage ratios and default spreads come from the ratings table on my web site (ratings.xls). You can also get updated spreads, for different ratings classes, by going to the Bonds Online web site (www.bondsonline.com) and checking under corporates (Sorry again, this is a paid site now and you may run into some brick walls).

The market regression for debt ratios is available on my web site (regress.xls). You can download information on other firms in the sector individually or look at the Value Line pages corresponding to each of these firms. You can get a list of the comparable firms on the web site (www.dailystocks.com - enter a symbol and pick the industry comparison).


To estimate the optimal capital structure for your firm, you can use the excel spreadsheet on my web site titled capstr.xls, and enter the inputs for your firm. The ratings and coverage ratios are built into the spread sheet.


VII. Mechanics of Moving to the Optimal

To get the inputs needed to estimate the capital structure mechanics, you can get the information on macro economic variables such as interest rates, inflation, GNP growth and exchange rates from my web site (macro.xls). You can get historical information on your own firm by looking at the Bloomberg page for your firm, which has information for the last 15 years on revenues and operating income.

If you want more extensive historical data on macroeconomic variables, you will find your heart's content by going to the Federal Reserve's data site in St. Louis, also called FRED. You can download into excel

You can get information on sector sensitivity to macro economic variables in the data set on my web site (indfin.xls)

VIII. Dividend Policy

You can get information on dividends paid and stock bought back over time from the financials of the firm. (The statement of changes in cash flows is usually the best source for both.) To see typical dividend payout ratios and yields for the sector in which this firm operates examine the data set on industry averages on my web site (inddiv.xls)

IX. A Framework for Analysing Dividends

You can get the information that you need to estimate free cash flows to equity and returns on equity from past financials. You will also need a beta (see risk and return section) and a debt ratio (see risk and return section) to estimate the free cash flows to equity. To see what returns you would have made on your stock over the last 5 years examine the calendar returns portion of the page on your firm at the morninstar site under your firm (www.morningstar.com).


To compare dividends to free cash flows to equity for up to 10 years for your firm, you can use the spreadsheet on my web site titled dividend.xls. It will compute FCFE and dividends, and analyse project and stock returns over the period analyzed.


X. Valuation

Most of the information that you need for valuation come from your current or past financial statements. You will also need a beta (see risk and return section) and a debt ratio (see risk and return section) to estimate the free cash flows to equity. To get an analyst estmate of expected growth in earnings per share over the next 5 years, check the morningstar web site (www.morningstar.com) that provides the consensus estimate for analyst projections for your firm.

To see industry averages for betas, fundamentals and other inputs, you might want to check the industry averages on my web site (check under updated data).

To examine how your firm ranks relative to the industry on the basis of multiples such as PE, PBV or PS ratios check out the valuation section of the morningstar web site (www.morningstar.com). You can also check the industry averages for these and other multiples in my web site (indmult.xls).


To do the valuation, you can use the valuation spreadsheet that best meets your needs - dividends, FCFE or FCFF - stable, 2-stage or 3-stage. They are available on my web site.