Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Looking At The Financials - Finding Business Information

This post was inspired by a class exercise in Library 102. Where do you find reliable financial information if you are not an investor, economist or Warren Buffett?

So this is a small sample of websites that have established reputations, clear descriptions of what they do and the information that they provide. As with any site on the web, particularly with financial sites evaluation is extremely important.

For the most part I have collected most of the sites listed below via recommendations from college and university web sites.

Bankrate.com is a free information portal for visitors to compare and find credit card rates, saving, auto, mortgage and interest rates, and retirement plans. If you are looking for the best interest rate to stash your emergency cash this is the place to come to. Bankrate.com helps visitors understand what is happening in the world of personal finance. There are articles, tutorials and calculators.

It is a free service however it is supported by advertising and some of the tutorial content is provided by various financial companies. The site does disclose when the information is provided by a sponsoring company. Bankrate.com also syndicates their content to other websites and publications.

Perhaps you need to locate a company. There are a lot of ways to go about it. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:
All companies, foreign and domestic, are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms electronically through EDGAR. Anyone can access and download this information for free. Here you'll find links to a complete list of filings available through EDGAR and instructions for searching the EDGAR database.
The Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system, EDGAR is a database of those reports with the names, addresses and legally required documentation (i.e. financials) that are filed with the federal government. There are tutorials on how to use EDGAR and information on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code List.

Another place to locate U.S. company data are Hoover's, which can help you general financial information by company, geographic location or industry. Hoover's also has profile videos that focus on certain segments of industry. This is a subscription site but the general business data is free to view. Hoover's is owned by Dun & Bradstreet.

Michigan State University - Global Edge If your needs are more substantial, such as finding information about international business or trade, academic research, historical trade data select countries.

Global Edge also has industry profiles on specific business area such as food and beverage. The information is produced by the University International Business Center. Global Edge is free and the general public is welcomed to use the information.

The World Bank Data and Research section has extensive statistics in a variety of formats. If you want a quick overview of Napal's poverty level and the economic status of the country this is your place. Huge amount of data.

These are just starting points. The important things to remember about financial websites are that you want to know who is producing the information, the context of the information, what is the relation to advertisers and sponsors and can the information be verified by external sources independent of the web site.

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