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 

Searching for Market Research Content

Locating Market Research content is less straightforward than company financial data – many databases provide this coverage (Thomson ONE.com, Bloomberg Professional, Capital IQ, Fame, Amadeus, Datastream – to see posts which include content on these, scroll down and click on the ‘Tag Cloud’ links on the right hand menu).

However, students often aren’t even aware specific databases exist to provide Market Research content, such as company/industry reports, analyst evaluations and market news.

With a systematic approach, searching in all Market Research databases which may have relevant content, is worthwhile. This is because the way research has been framed (i.e. what it looks at: online sales, but not sales from physical stores, for example) means it may not be an exact match to the enquiry (student assignment: essay or project), but nevertheless can be applied to it in some way, which still proves useful. In essence, many sources provide numerous small pieces of the puzzle, which come together to build a strong argument, to answer the enquiry.

Even if a student does locate a report which exactly matches their enquiry, the notion that a single report or source is sufficient should be dispelled. This would typically be spelt out in assessment criteria or marking scheme, employed by educational establishments. For example, ‘wide background reading’ [suggesting multiple sources]; ‘appropriate examples’ [plural: i.e. not just one large example/case study]; ‘good support and justification’ [material obtained through research provides the foundation from which analysis can be undertaken, to produce a successful piece of work]. It would be more appropriate to view such a report as the starting point – like a plant’s roots beginning to grow and branching out in different directions.

A number of databases are available which can provide useful Market Research content, such as:

Thomson Research (International focus: analyst reports at Company and Industry level).

Mintel (UK focus: with reports, news, analyst insights).

Frost & Sullivan (International focus: market insights, technical insights reports, industry research reports).

Passport (International focus: category briefings, statistics [company/brand market shares]).

Freedonia (International focus: reports – browse by industry [US] / country/region).

Factiva (International newspapers and trade journals [a publication linked to a particular industry – so different to an academic journal]. Can also be useful in providing background coverage for Mergers and Acquisitions deals (a deal is announced, how it progresses over time and finally completion).

Perhaps the best in terms of reports, due to the number and depth of coverage is Thomson Research, which is examined below.

 

Thomson Research

 

Coverage: International market content, providing Analyst Reports at Company and Industry level.

Access: This database is designed to work with the Internet Explorer browser. In addition it is advisable to select Tools (the small cog icon at the top right of the screen) – Compatibility View Settings, then click on the ‘Add’ and ‘Close’ buttons, so all search features work as they should. Note: If other browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox are used, search features will not work as expected.

Searching – Analyst Reports – Company Level.

These reports provide an assessment of the factors affecting companies and industries, which may cover financial performance data, and some or all of the PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) factors which could impact on current and future performance. This is perfect for student projects, in that they represent the same process the student is going through. That is, to research relevant content and provide an analysis based on this, to complete their assignment.

This is the default search screen [Research – Full Search]. All search and display options are contained on a single page.

 

Analyst Reports - Search Screen

Analyst Reports – Search Screen

 

Searching Tip #1:  Although there is a dedicated ‘Company’ field, it is often more effective to enter the company name in the ‘Title’ field, which searches within report titles. This is because a company’s official name can be different to that in common usage, meaning if this ‘common usage’ version is entered in the ‘Company’ field, no results are returned. For example, Royal Bank of Scotland, often abbreviated to RBS, has the full name of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC.

Searching Tip #2:  Sort Results by ‘Report Date – Descending’, is preferred, as this will show the most recent reports at the top of the list. This option can be selected from the drop down menu (bottom left of screen).

The other search options are straightforward. For this search: Collection = Investment Research, Report Type = Company, Report Date = Last Year, Title = Tesco PLC, then click on ‘Search’.

This search resulted in 183 reports, which is perhaps too many. Fortunately, it is quite quick to change the search by clicking on the ‘Edit Search’ button. Making use of a phrase (two or more search terms enclosed in quotation marks) in the Text field (i.e. content from the main body of reports) can be very effective. In the modified search, “online sales” have been added in the Text field.

 

Phrase search to refine results.

Phrase search to refine results.

 

This reduced the number of results to 5 reports. Click on ‘Tesco PLC’ report title (highlighted).

 

Results List

Search Results – Reports

 

Click on ‘View’.

 

View report content

View content

 

Click on ‘Submit’ to proceed:

 

Submit request to display report

Submit

 

The full text is then displayed in PDF format. For a large report, the PDF format is helpful, with the option to search for particular terms inside, using the ‘Find’ search box (Control – ‘F’ key), which appears at the top right of the screen.

 

Tesco Analyst Report

Tesco Report

 

The same search principles apply to ‘Industry’ level reports. The obvious difference being that Report Type is now ‘Industry’.

 

Choice of Search Terms

 

The value of being able to think of alternative search terms is that it is then possible to obtain new results. For example, a search which is too general will give many results. For an Industry level search, using just ‘Grocery’ in the Title field produces over 100 reports. By adding the phrase, “Tesco Sales”, in the Text field, this gave one result (‘UK Food Retail: Brexit Impacts Grocery Volumes Negatively’). Using an alternative Title search (UK Grocery) produced 10 reports, which is a reasonable number.

Additionally, alternative search terms can be obtained by looking at a dictionary definition of a particular term or a thesaurus. Sometimes search terms can only be encountered by looking within Market Research reports. For example, when the relative contribution of Internet and physical store sales is considered, certain terminology tends to prevail. So, ‘Online’ rather than Internet, and ‘Bricks and Mortar’, rather than physical stores.

 

Summary

 

Awareness of Market Research databases is a necessary first step to making use of these valuable resources. The databases listed above can provide useful content, to enable effective analysis by students, contributing to a successful piece of work.

 

Related post:  Company and Industry Comparisons   [Date: 10 July 2015].

 

The above databases are available to current students and staff of The University of Manchester.

Categories: Business Databases

Top 10 Companies

A student recently asked the following: ‘how do I get a list of the top 10 companies in the pharmaceuticals area?’.

What ‘top 10’ means, or is meant to mean, is a little fuzzy…could this be ordering by turnover (sales), number of employees, earnings per share or other measure? Upon further questioning, the size of the company, represented by Market Capitalization, was deemed acceptable. In addition to this, the relative position of a specified company (Glaxosmithkline: GSK-LN) was queried.

 

Thomson ONE.com

One possible approach is to search for the specified company and see what options then present themselves. By typing the company name or ticker code (GSK-LN) in the search box at the top left of the screen, it is possible to select the appropriate option from those displayed. This gives a Company Overview screen to start.

 

Company Overview

Thomson ONE.com – Company Overview

 

By selecting the ‘Comparables’ screen, a number of related companies are displayed. To reach this screen, use the drop-down menus at the top of the page:

Company Views – Fundamentals – Comparables

 

GSK Related Companies

Thomson ONE.com – Comparables (GSK)

 

Whilst this gives a list of related entries in the sense that they are pharmaceutical companies, it is not clear if these represent the ‘top 10’. To do so, a measure would have to be targeted, such as Market Capitalization, using the ‘Equity Screener’ feature. This can be reached from:

Screening & Analysis – Companies – Company Screener

By entering ‘Pharmaceuticals’ within the Business Description field and ‘greater than or equal to 5000’ within the Latest Market Cap ($Mil) field [Stock & Earnings Criteria section], then clicking on the ‘Search’ button, this gives 66 results.

 

T1 Screening Search

Thomson ONE.com – Screening & Analysis search

 

Selecting the column title (‘Market Cap’) orders the companies by this field’s values. The Excel icon allows data export.

 

Search screen

Thomson ONE.com – Screening & Analysis

 

The data displayed within Excel:

 

Excel Export

Thomson ONE.com – Company List Exported to Excel

 

Glaxosmithkline appears at number 6 in the results. A particular concern with this list may relate to how precisely ‘Pharmaceuticals’ matches with companies which are so classified. For example, 3M, which appears at number 5 on the list, makes many varied products, and isn’t primarily thought of as a pharmaceutical company. Another alternative is to try features within other databases – for example, Bloomberg Professional.

The first function which suggests itself is ‘Relative Valuation’ (RV), which would seem to provide a similar role to ‘Comparables’ within Thomson ONE.com. Enter the following on the Command Line:

GSK LN  F8/Equity  RV

 

Relative Valuation

Bloomberg Professional – Relative Valuation

 

Another potential choice would be to use the Equity Screening function (EQS). This allows companies to be selected according to the Sectors (or sub-sectors) to which they are assigned. There are a number of other categories which can be used to refine a search, if so desired.

 

Sectors

Bloomberg Professional – EQS – Sectors (Pharmaceuticals)

 

By selecting ‘Pharmaceuticals’, then ‘Update’, the number of results are shown. In this case 1,146 companies:

 

EQS Results

Bloomberg Professional – EQS Results

 

By clicking on ‘Results’, a listing is displayed, sorted by the default data field – Market Cap(italization). The currency is not clear at first sight. However, by hovering the mouse pointer over the column title (Market Cap), a pop up box confirms details: Currency: GBP, representing Great Britain Pounds.

 

Pharmaceutical Companies

Bloomberg Professional – Pharmaceutical Companies

 

Glaxosmithkline appears at number 10 in this listing. Interestingly, 3M doesn’t appear within the top 21, reflecting the earlier comment on categorisation of companies in different databases.

 

So, Equity Screening within Bloomberg Professional and Screening & Analysis within Thomson ONE.com databases have provided a listing of companies sorted by Market Capitalization and represent a reasonable solution to what was initially a difficult question to address.

 

Thomson ONE.com (from Thomson Reuters) and Bloomberg Professional are available to current students and staff of The University of Manchester.

 

Related posts include:

Company Employee Data Using Different Databases: [24 February 2016],  and

Company and Industry Comparisons: [10 July 2015].

 

Help!

I am aware that the Beatles had a hit with Help!, but not the associated details, without looking it up.

Similarly with Bloomberg Professional, I may suspect that particular data is included, but not be sure, without looking it up. With a vast number of functions (10,000+) and many types of data available, this could be tricky. Fortunately, Bloomberg has an excellent Help system, including:

 

Autocomplete

You don’t need to know lots of codes to make progress. The ‘Autocomplete’ feature means you can just type a Company Name on the command line (top left of the screen) – Tesco PLC, for example (a UK supermarket group). This provides a list of results under Functions (not relevant here) and under Securities (relevant here).

SECURITIES

TSCO LN Equity                                   Tesco PLC (London)

 

This also includes the Ticker Code [TSCO LN], which stands for Tesco on the London Stock Exchange. You don’t need to know this code, you can just click on the entry to proceed.

 

Function Help

Behind every function, there is a Help screen enabling you to be become familiar with what it does and how it works. For example, the Help screen for the Financial Analysis [FA] function is shown below.

 

FA function Help

Financial Analysis Help

 

FA has the option to display financial statements (e.g. Income Statement) in a currency other than that in which the company reports its results. For Tesco PLC, that would be GBP, representing Great Britain Pounds. This could be changed to US Dollars (USD), to compare with another company based in the US.

In a training session looking at Bloomberg, a student asked the question: ‘What is the basis for the currency conversion in the example you demonstrated?’. Not knowing the answer, my first step was to press the green Help key at the top left of the Bloomberg keyboard, to display the Help screen for this function. This did not provide an answer. Therefore, I tried another Help feature, which is incredibly effective – the search engine.

 

Search Engine

By typing a few keywords on the command line and pressing the Help key, Bloomberg tries to understand the question being asked. In effect, it operates like a search engine. This typically provides about five answers, one of which is usually relevant – unlike a normal web-based search engine, delivering millions of results, but not necessarily what you are looking for.

To obtain an answer, I typed:  FA Currency Conversion  and pressed the Help key.

Help: Currency Conversion

Help: Currency Conversion

 

This produced three results, the second of which (shown above) provided a solution. Click on the title to display additional content.

 

Bloomberg Help Desk

Where you have a question for which an answer has not been forthcoming, using the above Help features, the final option is to contact the Bloomberg Help Desk. To do so, press the Help key twice. Students will see the display below.

Click on ‘Bloomberg Help Desk’ at the bottom of the screen.

 

Bloomberg Help Screen

Bloomberg Help

 

Next, type your email address and question, then click ‘Submit’, for a response within 24 hours.

Help Email

Help Desk Enquiry Screen

 

The Help system is a productive resource, saving you time, when looking up all things Bloomberg…financial data…economic data…appropriate functions for analysis.

Just don’t ask when Help! was released. [1965, for the Film, Single and Soundtrack Album]

Bond ISIN to company ISIN — EDSC manuals, tips & tricks

9 November 2016 Leave a comment

Suppose you created a list with bonds and the accompanying ISIN codes. You can’t use these ISIN codes to download information from the issuer of this bond. But here is way to use the ISIN codes you collected so far to find the ISIN code of the issuer An example: the ISIN code US44044KAA97 belongs […]

via Bond ISIN to company ISIN — EDSC manuals, tips & tricks

Bloomberg Essentials Training Program to Bloomberg Market Concepts

 

Bloomberg Essentials Training Program [BESS], better known as ‘Bloomberg Certification’, was discontinued at the end of August 2016. When entering this function code now, followed by the Enter/Go key, users are diverted to Bloomberg Market Concepts [BMC].

 

Bloomberg Market Concepts

BMC Function

 

BMC is an introductory Finance course, linked to about 70 Bloomberg functions – therefore different to BESS, which required study of content in Core (e.g. Getting Started, Bloomberg Excel Add-In) and Market Sector (e.g. Equity Essentials) areas. This provided a wider overview of Bloomberg functions and operation. Successful completion of the Core and at least one Market Sector examination resulted in a certificate.

Although a loss to keen students wishing to obtain this qualification, the content is still available within Bloomberg, from the Help pages. By typing HPL on the command line, followed by the Enter/Go key, this leads to the ‘Bloomberg Help and Learning’ pages. ‘Getting Started’ can be selected from the right hand menu.

 

Help Pages.

‘Bloomberg Help and Learning’.

 

This displays content previously available through the BESS function.

 

BESS content.

Getting Started content.

 

Other posts are available on Database Certification (mentioning BESS) and BMC.

 

 

Finding ESG data in Datastream using the ASSET4 template

25 October 2016 Leave a comment

A detailed source of environmental, social and governance (ESG) data can be found in Thomson Reuters Datastream.

Instead of choosing the appropriate datatypes in a regular Datastream time series request, you can download the ASSET4 template. This is hard to find in the InfoBase support platform (replacement for Extranet) so I suggest you get it from the Datastream Excel add-in toolbar, although this method is not quite as easy as you would like.

Open Datastream in Excel the usual way (remember the desktop icon “DSSetup – Shortcut”). Click on the Datastream ribbon tab, go to the Request Tables group and click Sample Sheets. Tick the button ‘Equities : ESG ASSET4 – Sector Industry  analysis’ then click the Download button.

ASSET4 - find the template

Find the ASSEST4 template with the ‘Sample Sheets’ button and download it.

The Download & Open button does the same as the Download button, it doesn’t open the file.

ASSET4 template location

ASSET4 template downloads to a hidden folder.

The template takes the form of a macro-enabled Excel workbook and is downloaded to a hidden folder. Click on Start > Computer, click in the address bar and type the following:
C:\ProgramData\datastream\datastream advance\User

Note that ‘ProgramData’ is not the same as ‘Program Files’ or ‘Program Files (x86)’, it is a hidden folder. As you type the rest of the path, Windows should suggest auto-completions, which you can accept.

ASSET4 file location

ASSET4 file location, in the hidden C:\ProgramData folder.

Find downloaded ASSET4 (animated)

ASSET4 file location (animated)

From here, open the file and accept any warnings about enabling content.

ASSET4 intro

ASSET4 introduction

There are many sheets (tabs), starting with Home. Click on ESG Filters to select your search criteria. Choose (1) a sector or industry such as Telecommunications Services and (2) criteria across the environmental, social and corporate governance categories such as Water Use Total, Women Managers and Size of Board. When ready, click the Go button.

ASSET4 search criteria

ASSET4 search criteria

Wait a few minutes while the data is downloaded to the Data Table sheet.

ASSET4 data table

ASSET4 data table

The tables and charts of the many other sheets are automatically updated to reflect your search (except the Data Fields definitions sheet). For example, the Bottom 5’s sheet.

ASSET4 example results

ASSET4 example results

If you find a datatype you would like to use in a regular time series request, make a note of its code.

See also earlier post Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Data from July 2013.

Advanced support for using the Bloomberg Excel add-in

4 August 2016 1 comment

Introduction

An example Bloomberg Excel template

This post is a collection of frequently and infrequently asked questions about the Bloomberg Professional API, most specifically the Bloomberg Excel Add-in. For the most part, it should be considered for experts, so please don’t be disheartened if it is too advanced for you; it’s effectively everything I know about the topic.

The questions are as follows.

  1. Where is the add-in? I don’t have it.
  2. Which ways can one use Bloomberg and Excel together?
  3. Where can I find the field codes?
  4. I don’t want to be restricted to Excel, can I use Java, C++, .NET, Python or R?
  5. Where can I get more help?

Where is the add-in? I don’t have it.

Install Bloomberg Excel add-in

  • If the ribbon tab labelled “Bloomberg” is not showing in Excel, close it then click on Start > All Programs > Bloomberg > Install Office Add-Ins. Follow the instructions, but be prepared to run the little install program a few times, perhaps opening and closing Excel and running it again.

Which ways can one use Bloomberg and Excel together?

Terminal copy or export

Bloomberg types of copy/export to Excel

Some of the ways to get data from Bloomberg to Excel (remember to work at the terminal though!). Top-left (FA): Red menu > Output > Excel > Current Template (data is live). Top-right (GP): Right-click on chart > Copy/Export Options > Copy Data to Clipboard (then paste in Excel). Bottom-left (MEMB): Red menu > Output > Excel (data is fixed). Bottom-right (CHNG): Not possible to export report data.

  • Various functions in the Bloomberg terminal let you get the on-screen data into Excel in different ways. Look for commands such as “Copy data to clipboard”, “Output > Excel” or similar, by clicking on the red menu bar (Actions) or right-clicking on charts or data.
  • Sometimes the action will download and open a new Excel document, either with the data written in directly or loading later via the Bloomberg API. Sometimes the data is copied to the clipboard for you to paste into a worksheet of your choice.
  • Remember that a sheet which contains Bloomberg formulas to load live data may not load on a PC without Bloomberg unless you save as CSV or copy/paste-as-values. (This is also true for all the Excel options below.)

Excel templates

Excel template library

Bloomberg template library, browsed in Excel. Could also use XLTP function in terminal.

  • Usually most useful if you are looking up one company, bond, exchange rate or commodity, a Bloomberg template will give you a detailed Excel workbook filled with data and visualisations that are updated live from Bloomberg via the Excel API. Amber coloured fields are editable, often to change the company, country, sector, date or other variable. (See the first image in the post.)
  • The templates can be found in the terminal with the XLTP<GO> function, and in Excel under Bloomberg > Explore > Template Library.

Excel import

Bloomberg Excel historical end of day

Use the Import Data menu in Excel to get historical end of data and other data.

  • A commonly used feature that is described in our Bloomberg Workbook (available in the Bloomberg Suite and at the Precinct Library) is the Historical End of Day wizard. In Excel, click Bloomberg > Import > Import Data > Real-Time / Historical > Historical End of Day.
  • The wizard will let you type security identifiers or select from a common index, then choose your data types and data range. It will then produce the results in the cell you selected.

Excel function builder

Bloomberg Excel function builder

Build a function from scratch. The formula in cell B1 is =BDP(“AAPL US EQUITY”, “INDUSTRY_SECTOR”) and the value is Technology.

  • If you want a little more control, use the function builder, found in Bloomberg > Create > Function Builder. This more advanced tool will expose the Bloomberg API to you, starting by asking you to choose one of three major Bloomberg Functions:
    • BDP: (Bloomberg Data Point) Import a single data point of current data.
    • BDH: (Bloomberg Data History) returns the historical data for a selected security.
    • BDS: (Bloomberg Data Series) imports a set of bulk data such as peers.
  • For your chosen function, you will be asked to type in a security (such as “AAPL US EQUITY”), a field (such as “INDUSTRY_SECTOR” or “PX_LAST”) , and dates (depending on the function).
  • The tool will suggest auto-completion if you don’t happen to know the exact security or field code. It will only suggest valid responses.
  • You can add optional extra parameters such as orientation=H|V, currency, or “array=True” which puts all the output data into one cell instead many rows/columns (requires array formulas afterwards). Note that row and column counts will be added as extra parameters automatically after the formula has called.
  • The security, field and dates can be written into the formula or referenced from other cells.
  • Notice that the security ID needs to end with what kind of entity it is, so equities end “EQUITY”, bonds end “CORP” etc.

Excel manual function creation

Bloomberg Excel function builder manual edits

In the formula in cell B1, by replacing the security ID with a cell reference A1, you can then copy the formula down or across.

  • Once you have used the function builder, you will have a working formula that you may wish to copy out for each of your many securities, fields or dates. If you use a cell reference for this variable, you may copy the formula across or down. For example, you can have a list of security identifiers in column A {AAPL US EQUITY, IBM US EQUITY, VOD LN EQUITY, …} and the formula in column B =BDP(A1, “INDUSTRY_SECTOR”) and copy down the formula in column B.
  • What if your formula produces data in two dimensions and you need to leave a gap between each call, for example with amendment history of bonds? I have addressed that problem by writing a Python script to prepare the formulas and spacing. Assuming noblanks.txt is a file with one security ID per line (without the “CORP” bit) and withblanks.txt is our output:
fin = open('noblanks.txt')
fout = open('withblanks.txt', 'w')
for line in fin:
    id = line.rstrip()
    fout.write(id + "\t=BDS(\"" + id + "Corp\",\"AMENDMENT_HISTORY\",\"cols=3;rows=100\")")
    fout.write('\t\n' * 100)
fin.close()
fout.close()

The generated file is tab-delimited and can be opened in Excel for Bloomberg to action. The first column is the security ID (without the “CORP” bit), the second column contains the formulas, and there are 100 blank rows between each Bloomberg call to ensure enough space. There is room to improve this approach!

Where can I find the field codes?

The mnemonic codes for each field are not the same as in the Bloomberg terminal but can be looked up using the FLDS<GO> function. The auto-complete feature of the function builder in Excel is a good alternative.

I don’t want to be restricted to Excel, can I use Java, C++, .NET, Python or R?

  • In theory, yes, that is possible, although you will need technical support and all the necessary development environment to be set up on a Bloomberg terminal. In summary, the APIv3 needs be installed (from the WAPI<GO> function) which provides the necessary libraries for Java, C, C++ and .NET.
  • To use R (or RStudio), you’ll need to connect via Java (with the standard rJava library and Rbbg library from the http://r.findata.org/ repository). Python connects via the C library.
  • This is too advanced to be part of the regular Business Data Service, sorry!

Last year, I worked with PhD candidate Ali Bayat, and we got the following R script working from RStudio with R 3.1.3 and Java 8u22. [Thank you, Ali.]

install.packages("rJava")
install.packages("Rbbg", repos = "http://r.findata.org/")
library("rJava")
library("Rbbg")
conn <- blpConnect()
bdp(conn, "AMZN US Equity", "NAME")

Where can I get more help?

  • As mentioned, our white binder Bloomberg Workbook (at the Bloomberg Suite and Precinct Library) describes how to use the historical end of day import from Excel.
  • There is help throughout the Excel add-in (look for white question mark in a blue circle icons). The templates all have a help sheet (coloured green tab). Remember to press the F1 key at any terminal function to get context-sensitive support.