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Evaluating Thomson ONE.com for research

Any research that requires gathering company, financial or economic data will involve choosing the appropriate databases. Three key aspects to this decision are :-

  1. data content – which databases have the data required by the research
  2. access – how is the data accessed (e.g. web interface, specialist PC in library, …)
  3. learning curve – how easy is it to learn

Of these the first “data content” is the most specific to a research topic and the obvious place to start.

ThomsonONEfundamentalsThomson ONE.com (or T1.com), Thomson Reuters replacement product for Thomson One Banker, covers a wide range of financial information for listed (public) companies and provides a good example of many common data content issues that researchers need to consider.

Company Accounts (Company Financials)

A significant limitation of Thomson ONE.com from a research perspective is that it does not cover inactive (dead) companies. Research often deals with a significant number of companies and only selecting companies that are still active (listed) leads to survivorship bias. Alternatives giving fuller coverage include Datastream, also from Thomson Reuters, and Compustat for US companies.

Thomson ONE.com also has less historical coverage than more research oriented databases such as Datastream and Compustat.

Financial Markets, Prices, Returns

Thomson ONE.com does provide price and index data. As with company accounts there is the limitation to active companies only. In addition, the web interface is not a good choice if you need to download a significant amount of data, e.g. daily price data for a large list of companies. The database with the best research reputation and longest historical coverage is CRSP, available through WRDS, but this is US data only. Similarly LSPD, also available through WRDS, has the longest historical coverage for UK prices and returns. For global coverage there is Datastream.

Analysts’ Reports

T1researchAnalysts’ reports (brokers’ reports) is an area where Thomson ONE.com has the best data available (to University of Manchester subscribers). See Analysts’ reports on Thomson ONE.com (posted January 2014) for more detail.

The web interface is designed for searching by company name and downloading a small number of these text reports. There is no quick method for downloading many reports for multiple companies.

Company Filings

These are documents that a company files with its regulator. In the US they are often referred to by the name of the SEC form – 10-K for annual reports, 10-Q for quarterly reports, …

The downloading issues for analysts’ reports apply to filings too. Indeed with the over 100 pages and lots of images the annual reports for larger companies can be 10-20 MB and therefore not quick to download. For recent company annual reports you may find it quickest to use google, or another search engine, and download direct from each company’s website.

PI Navigator, from Perfect Information,  is a specialist database for companies regulatory filings of companies with flexible search options.

Deals – Mergers and Acquisitions, New Issues, IPOs

SDC Platinum is a well known database for company deals data, and it is also well regarded by academic researchers. SDC Platinum is now part of the Thomson Reuters portfolio and you can access the data through Thomson ONE.com.

TONEdealsUse the Screening & Analysis tab to access the advanced deals search screen. There are four broad classifications: mergers and acquisitions, equity (inital issues/IPOs and secondary issues), bonds, and syndicated loans.

When researching deals it is important to remember that the information can be sparse – for many variables there is no recorded value. When a public company takes over a private company it is not obliged to reveal all the financial details of the deal. (A deal between private companies may have only the minimum of  information disclosed.)

Some researchers prefer using the older SDC Platinum database, especially when downloading large amounts of data, even though this requires coming to the library to use of of the PCs with SDC installed.

Summary

Thomson ONE.com is a popular choice when researching an individual company, or a small group of companies. When researching a large number of companies, over the last 5/10/20 years, a different more research oriented database (or databases) can be better. However, the choice of which other databases does depend on the detail of the research data required.

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