Welcome to Business Research Plus

27 July 2011 1 comment

Business Research Plus header 2015

From specialist databases to business literature, Business Research Plus provides advice and tips based on The University of Manchester Library Business Data Service resources and expertise.  See our About page for more details.

  • Library Research Plus provides expert insight from The University of Manchester Library’s Research Services for researchers in all disciplines including business.
  • My Learning Essentials, the Library’s award-winning skills progamme includes online resources with a wealth of useful tips on searching, referencing, writing to support personal and professional development.

Exploring our resources – try the Business and Management Resources page (Subject Guides),  scroll down to category or tag cloud in the right-hand column or search this blog (top right). For latest news see @UML_BDS 

Obtaining historical corporate credit ratings data from ThomsonONE.com

2 February 2016 Leave a comment

Corporate credit ratings data are useful to assess the financial capabilities of companies to pay back their debt obligations.

Current ratings market is dominated by three rating agencies, the so called ‘big three’. They are Standard & Poor’s (S&P, circa 40%), Moody’s (circa 40%), and Fitch Group (circa 15%).

Ratings could be assigned to debt obligations due within one year (short term rating), or beyond one year (long term rating). They could also be assigned to debt securities that are in local currency or in foreign currencies.

The University of Manchester Library subscribes to a few databases that provide current and historical corporate credit ratings data. One of them is ThomsonONE.com.

1.     From ThomsonONE.com portal, a company’s current and historical ratings data can be accessed via the company’s Debt Overview page.

This shows Pfizer’s corporate ratings by the big three agencies since 1972. Data could also be downloaded into Microsoft Excel:

(1) ThomsonONE.com for one company's credit rating

Corporate ratings on ThomsonONE.com for one company at a time

However, this works well only if one needs data for one or a small number of companies. In finance research, we normally need data for hundreds if not more companies over a period of time.  This is when ThomsonONE.com Excel add-in becomes very useful.

2. ThomsonONE.com’s Excel add-in is efficient when it comes to extract multiple years of data for a portfolio of companies.

The Excel add-in for ThomsonONE.com, called Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link (TRSL), allows for more complex data gathering requests. Below is an example of getting S&P’s Long term issuer ratings for FTSE100 companies from 1996-2015

List of companies

Step 1: Upload FTSE100 companies with their respective Thomson Tickers (identifiers such as ISIN, CUSIP, and Datastream Code also work), with years 1996-2015 across, with the TRSL add-in


Step 2: Select Items look up, and type in ‘Rating’ at the search box. The first item S&P Long Term Issuer Rating will appear. Highlight this item


Step 3: Input Date and Identifier with cell referencing. So that date cell is C$1, and identifiers cell is $B3. Click on Export


Step 4: Getting the data: At export option box, select ‘Excludes Headings and Dates’, and press OK




Copied across… and under…

Where to find Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link

TRSL is available in the Library Finance Zone (currently Dover Street Building G.010). Please see information signs in the rooms for how to set it up.

Alternative sources of credit rating data

Good sources of historical corporate credit ratings data include Bankscope, Bloomberg (through the terminal only), Mergent FISD and Compustat. Datastream only provides current data only.

Bloomberg Market Concepts (BMC)

26 January 2016 1 comment

The recently introduced Bloomberg Market Concepts course provides an introductory guide to Finance.

For those educational institutions that have Bloomberg Professional, this is free to students when they complete the course at a Bloomberg terminal, which would otherwise be charged for, when taken online. Bloomberg terminals are available within the The University of Manchester Library service and therefore BMC is free for University of Manchester students (and staff) here.


Course Overview

To begin, a BMC account has to be created. This is achieved by entering the function code BMC on the command line, at the top left of the screen, pressing the ‘Enter/Go’ key and then selecting ‘Sign Up’.

BMC Function 'Sign Up'

BMC function page with ‘Sign Up’ option highlighted.


BMC covers 4 modules: Economic Indicators, Currencies, Fixed Income and Equities. These are also divided into sub-modules. For example, ‘Primacy of GDP’ is within the Economic Indicators module.

BMC Modules

BMC home page (when logged in).


Timing and Assessment

The course is self-paced and typically takes around 8 to 10 hours of individual study at a Bloomberg terminal. Minimum progress at one sitting is an individual sub-module. Modules have varying content, so will not have uniform completion times.

Within each module there are assessment questions which have to be competed before progressing further and also before moving on to the next module.


Student Benefits and Certificate of Completion

In completing the course, students gain a wider familiarity with Bloomberg, covering over 70 functions. This represents an opportunity to improve technical knowledge and experience using a leading financial service, thus boosting their employability. This improved competence benefits research performance in locating data and business news content to complete assignments.

Unlike Bloomberg Essentials Training Program (commonly known as ‘Bloomberg Certification’) where there are examinations with a specific pass mark, BMC doesn’t have this. Percentage scores for modules and for the course overall are included on a student’s BMC account (valid for 12 months) but not on the certificate, which displays name and date of completion.

On completing all modules, click on the ‘Certificate’ option from the BMC home page to obtain a PDF copy to print and/or save.

BMC Certificate

BMC home page with ‘Certificate’ option highlighted (when logged in).


Further Details

Within the BMC function screen (not logged in), there is an FAQ link on the left hand menu.

It is also possible to visit the Bloomberg Institute web site.

Bloomberg Institute

Bloomberg Institute web site – for further details on Bloomberg Market Concepts.


Bloomberg Professional is a financial data and news service available to current students and staff of The University of Manchester. Training and support is provided by the Business Data Service, part of the Research Services Division within The University of Manchester Library service.


A quick look at Research Quotient: Analyse and measure the effectiveness of a firm’s R&D

19 January 2016 Leave a comment

Research QuotientA new resource has been added to our collection on WRDS called Research Quotient. It collates increase in total revenue with estimated investment in research and development (R&D) between 1974 and 2010. From their publicity materials:

Research Quotient = percentage increase in revenue from a 1% increase in R&D.
RQ is the output elasticity of R&D. RQ offers a universal, uniform, and reliable measure of a firm’s R&D productivity.

It is available now, for researchers at The University of Manchester, for US firms only. It is searchable by Compustat GVKEY and SIC codes, or by looking up companies by name one at a time.

See also: WRDS access and access.

From ISIN codes to Compustat (via Capital IQ using GVKEY, CUSIP and Name)

17 December 2015 Leave a comment

Given a list of North American company ISIN codes from the Markit credit default swap database (via a lookup database), you may want to join in quarterly company fundamentals from Compustat in WRDS. Compustat does not accept ISIN codes; you have to use an intermediate source such as Capital IQ and one or more intermediate data types (GVKEY, CUSIP and Company Name).

Note, you must be using a PC with the Capital IQ Excel add-in set up. This is in the Library Finance Zone.


  1. Use Capital IQ Office Plug-in (CIQ) with a column of ISIN codes in Excel. Put these in column A.
  2. In the next column, B, get the values of column A with a prefix of “I_” so CIQ can interpret them as ISINs. Cell B2 contains =”I_”&A2
  3. Next get the GVKEY code in column C with a CIQ formula. Cell C2 contains =CIQ(B2, “IQ_GVKEY”) — the output will need cleaning up to remove the “GV_” prefix and any multiple matches.
  4. Then the CUSIP codes in column D. Cell D2 contains =CIQ(B2, “IQ_CUSIP”) — this may not work well, I used the Compustat helpdesk here to get these.
  5. Finally from CIQ, the company names. Column E. Cell E2 contains =CIQ(B2, “IQ_COMPANY_NAME”)
  6. Create a new plain text document with the values of column C (GVKEY) and upload this to Compustat in the usual way.
  7. For the gaps, repeat with the values of column D (CUSIP).
  8. For any final gaps, use the Manually enter company codes > Code Lookup tool in Compustat, typing in the first part of the names to obtain any extra GVKEY codes one by one and repeat step 6.
  9. Stitch together the various Compustat output files and check that all the companies are present without duplicates.

Consider that CUSIP codes can change with time, so use them with caution. Remember to keep any column of CUSIP codes with Text format, never General, Number or Scientific.

Compustat CUSIP Converter – limited use tool and some tips

16 December 2015 Leave a comment
Compustat CUSIP Converter

Converts CUSIP codes to CUSIP codes… it’s (somewhat) more useful than it sounds.

Most of our users who need North American company financial information need to link it to another data source, often with a different type of company identifier. A tool has appeared within Compustat via WRDS (which may have been there for some time) allowing you to convert either 8 or 9-digit CUSIP codes into 6, 8 or 9-digit ones. This is a bit of a surprise to me, as Compustat works best with GVKEY codes, but the different length of CUSIP codes help it to interface with other databases as follows.

  • Bloomberg (9-digit CUSIP)
  • Capital IQ (GVKEY has better coverage)
  • CRSP (8-digit CUSIP)
  • Datastream (via Local Code)
  • Eventus (8-digit CUSIP)
  • SDC Platinum (6-digit CUSIP)
  • ThomsonONE.com (9-digit CUSIP when using the Excel add-in)

The databases you join with may not have the full coverage of CUSIP codes, so take care. There will almost always be gaps when going from one database to another.

Take scientific care of CUSIPs in Excel

A final tip when using Excel. Some CUSIP codes can be interpretted as numbers in scientific format (when the code contains numerals and the letter ‘E’, such as Genuity Inc 37248E202 read as 3.72 x 10206). Some CUSIP codes begin with leading zeroes (Apple Inc is ‘037833AL4‘) which can get lost and change meaning.

You must always make sure that a column of CUSIP codes is formatted as Text not General before you paste them in. When opening from a CSV file, consider using the Data > Get External Data > From Text menu command and explicitly set the CUSIP column as Text format.

See also our earlier post on the CRSP converter tool:

How to book the specialist database PCs at Precinct Library

27 November 2015 Leave a comment

The specialist financial databases are mostly available online via the library website. For Bloomberg, Datastream, SDC Platinum and Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link, you will need to come to the Finance Zone or the Precinct Library and log into one of our dedicated PCs.

The Finance Zone is available whenever there is no training session on (check the signs by the doors). The Precinct Library has specialist PCs that students can book via My Manchester. See the screens below which take you through the process. (Special thanks to the student who let me take these screenshots!)

My Manchester

Start by visiting My Manchester and logging in with your University username and password.

My Manchester: Library Study Spaces

Click on ‘My Library’ > ‘Library Study Spaces’ > ‘Book a study space’

My Manchester: book

Choose ‘Precinct Library’ and the date you wish. Choose the time slots you need then Confirm.

My Manchester: confirm

Finally, confirm your booking.

WRDS website and access (updated October 2015)

21 October 2015 2 comments

(This post is a new version of WRDS website and access, July 2010)

WRDS (Wharton Research Data Service) is not really a database itself. It is a system designed to give researchers access to a range of financial databases (CRSP, Compustat, CCM, Compustat Execucomp, LSPD) though a common interface, and with integrated support.

Access to WRDS is via a username and password. Some taught modules provide students with a “class account” (such as Advanced Empirical Finance). MSc students, PhD students and academic staff can apply for their own username and password by following the instructions below. (Choosing the account type as PhD or Faculty provides extra capabilities for running SAS programs on the WRDS system.)

WRDS homepage 2015

Creating a WRDS account (postgraduate students)

For instructions to apply for your own username and password, please see the following guide.

  1. Go to WRDS start page.
  2. Under the login boxes, click on link Register for a WRDS Account.
  3. Fill in the details as follows:
    1. Institution: University of Manchester
    2. Affiliation With Institution: Masters Student | Ph.D. Student
    3. First Name: your first name
    4. Last Name: your last name
    5. Email: must be your University email address
    6. Department: your school and division name
    7. Desired Username: University username mxxxxxxx is recommended
    8. When Do You Expect Your Degree?: End date from your library card
  4. Press Submit.
  5. An email will be sent to our library admin staff who should activate your account within 24 hours.
  6. You will receive an email explaining that your account has been activated. It will include a default password that you can change.

Creating a WRDS account (staff)

In Step 3.2 Affiliation With Institution, choose Faculty, Staff (IT/Librarian) or Research Assistant. If you are a ‘Research Assistant’, please also provide the name and email address of your supervisor. Lecturers and professors should choose ‘Faculty’; PSS, Library and IT staff should choose ‘Staff’.

Creating a WRDS account (undergraduate students)

In order for undergraduate students to have access to WRDS, a ‘Class’ account must be created by a lecturer for the subject your are undertaking. Ask your lecturer if you think you need this; they will need to follow the same steps as above except choose ‘Class’ in Step 3.2 and provide the course code.




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