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Accounting: Financial Data

Use this guide to find information on financial accounting.

Company Financial Statements

Company financial statements -- balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements -- are available in several of our databases. Here are a few good choices.

D&B Hoovers covers over four million companies worldwide and gives ten years of financial statement data.

Mergent Online provides quarterly and annual financial statements for U.S. and international companies for extended periods of times (in some cases, over 20 years).  Mergent may also provide close to 20 years of the Annual Report to the Shareholders for U.S. companies.

SEC Filings

Publicly-traded companies are required to file a number of documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and these documents are made available to the general public.  Documents are filed electronically through the SEC's EDGAR system, and you can search for them at the SEC website.  They are also available in several databases, like the ones mentioned above.

Retrieving a particular filing for a particular company for a certain date is simple to do in most cases.  However, perhaps as a researcher you would like to identify only filings that contain a certain financial or legal term.  Searching across large sets of filings to find those that contain a particular topic or keyword can be more difficult. 

In Mergent Online, click on the Government Filings tab, then use the search form to do a text search.  You can limit by companies, dates, and filing types. 

In LexisNexis Academic, click on the "Search by Subject or Topic" button in the upper right, then select "SEC Filings."  Use the Advanced Options dropdown to specify dates and types of filings to be searched.  Use the Segments option to target your search to specific parts of the filings you selected.

Financial Datasets

A variety of datasets are available on the WRDS platform.  For example, Compustat, from Standard & Poor's, compiles the data from financial records for publicly traded companies into a single massive dataset for analysis and cross-comparisons.

Graduate students and faculty can request a personal WRDS account by going to https://wrds-web.wharton.upenn.edu/wrds/ and using the Register tab on the left of the screen.

Undergraduate students can request short-term access to WRDS at http://libdata.lib.ua.edu/login?url=http://wrds-web.wharton.upenn.edu/wrds/connect.

Financial Ratios

Financial ratios for both companies and industries can be found in the OneSource database.  Company ratio tables include the ratios for the individual company, the industry, the sector and the S&P 500, provided by Reuters.  Industry data can be found in the "Market Research" section under the heading "RMA Industry Norms;" these are pdf's of the relevant pages from RMA's Annual Statement Studies.

Go to the OneSource database.

In the introduction to their printed version of Annual Statement Studies, RMA provides explanations of common ratios, including both how they are calculated and what they mean.  They have posted a copy of this introduction on their website so you can view it online.  Scroll down past the opening pages to find the explanations and definitions.

View the RMA document at their website.

Ratios can also be found in these databases:

Hoover's Online - In a company entry, click on "Comparison Data" in the Financial Data category.

Factiva - Click on "Companies/Markets" in the green bar at the top, then select "Company."  Pull up the page on your company, then click on "Financial Results" in the left column. On the next screen, change the dropdown box at the top to "Key Ratios" and click on the button.

Audit Analytics

Audit Analytics is a database that provides detailed audit information on accounting firms and publicly registered companies. Follow who is auditing whom and how much they are paying for what services. Create reports from several data fields including auditor, fees, location, industry and more.

Audit Analytics is available to UA students, faculty, and staff.  You can access the data either through the WRDS platform or directly from their website.  To gain access to the website, qualified users must request an individual account by sending an email from a UA email address to Tom Hardy at the Ives Group, thardy@ivesinc.com.

Visit Audit Analytics now.

Definitions

According to Investopedia.com:

A balance sheet is "a financial statement that summarizes a company's assets, liabilities and shareholders' equity at a specific point in time."

An income statement is "a financial statement that measures a company's financial performance over a specific accounting period. Financial performance is assessed by giving a summary of how the business incurs its revenues and expenses through both operating and non-operating activities. It also shows the net profit or loss incurred over a specific accounting period, typically over a fiscal quarter or year."

A cash flow statement "provides aggregate data regarding all cash inflows a company receives from both its ongoing operations and external investment sources, as well as all cash outflows that pay for business activities and investments during a given quarter."