Students often enquire about creating a list of companies in a particular area…sector of the economy, or industry.
The Equity Screening function [EQS <GO>] in Bloomberg is an obvious starting point. This allows a number of criteria to be specified, to build a search, step by step.
When ‘Country of Domicile’ is selected, the expanding menus on the left hand side of the screen give a breakdown from geographical regions to individual countries. However, it is actually faster to type in the country name in the search field, in this case, ‘United States’.
Click ‘Update’. This gives 12,455 companies.
Repeat for ‘Sectors’. Here, the expanding menus can come in useful, as you may be uncertain of the category names to enable a keyword search. A recent student enquiry requested US ‘Medical Equipment’ companies. This was located by expanding the options, starting with ‘Health Care’ – and then selected. Click ‘Update’ to incorporate ‘Medical Equipment’ into the search. This gives 202 companies.
Click on ‘See Results’ to list the companies:
Whilst there is an icon at the top right of the screen to Export the results to another application, it can be more effective to save the list of companies through the ‘Actions – Save’ drop down menu. Enter a file name (‘US Medical Device Companies’ specified here) and click on ‘Save’.
To gain access to the results from the EQS search, for additional research, the Excel Add-In interface for Bloomberg provides a number of dedicated search options. The ‘Import Data’ feature is particularly useful. This gives a number of Wizard-type options, with standard screens allowing search selections to be entered. For example:
Import Data – Real-Time/Historical > Historical End of Day
Step 1: Create a List of Securities.
The ‘Select securities’ section allows the source to be specified from a drop menu of options. This includes Indices and EQS – Equity Screening. Once EQS is selected, the field below (Saved Screens) gives access to file names saved – in this case ‘US Medical Device Companies’ – normally at the bottom of the list. This loads the full list of companies to the ‘Available securities’ window. From here, the complete list can be selected (‘Add all’) and copied into the ‘Selected securities’ window, or a subset, then ‘Add’ – as is the case in the screen shot below.
Click on the ‘Next’ button to proceed:
Step 2: Create List of Fields.
Whilst there are a series of expanding menus [New Fields, Analysis, Corporate Actions, Descriptive, Earnings Estimates, Fundamentals, Market Activity, Ratings] to reveal the data items available, it is actually more effective to search by keyword(s). To illustrate, ’employees’ has been used as a search term, to locate the ‘Number of Employees’ field. Once selected, a definition is provided below. Click ‘Add’ to copy into the ‘Selected fields’ window.
Click ‘Next’, for Date and Frequency options: Yearly, back to 2010 specified.
Step 3: Select Perodicity and Time Frame.
The next two steps (Currency, Pricing Defaults) are not relevant to this search, so click ‘Next’ to proceed to
Step 6: Layout Options.
Click on ‘Finish’ to display results – it may be necessary to widen columns.
Although a simple example, this could include many additional data items for each company, for which Excel is well suited.
Bloomberg Professional is available to current students and staff of The University of Manchester.
Datastream is useful to be able to search for multiple companies (Series) and datatypes, in terms of quantitative data.
For example, Tesco PLC, J Sainsbury PLC and Marks & Spencer Group PLC are UK supermaket groups, each within the FTSE100 Price Index. One measure of company performance is Share Price. This quantitative data can be represented in chart form.
Data Category is the starting point. For company related data, this would be ‘Equities’.
For Analysis, this would be ‘Time Series Data’.
The Series can be identified by using the Navigator function, activated by clicking on the ‘Find Series’ button. The code displayed in the Navigator search, when selected, gets copied into the search screen. For example, TSCO for Tesco PLC.
The Datatype, for Share Price, searchable via the Navigator (Datatypes button) is ‘Price (Adjusted – Default)’, represented by the code: ‘P’.
Time Period can be selected from set date ranges, such as ‘-10Y’, which represents the last 10 years. Alternatively, a specific date range can be entered by clicking on the ‘Time Period’ button, giving the option to enter a Start and End date using the format: DD/MM/YYYY.
The frequency of data can be selected by clicking on the Settings button. This allows choices of ‘Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly’, with a default of ‘Daily’. Daily is normally used for Share Price data.
Finally, click on the Run Now! button to execute the search.
The results of this search for Tesco PLC Share Price data, in Datastream 5.1, gives the following output:
It is then possible to add this data into a chart view, by selecting Multiple Series/Flexible Chart, then Comparison Line Chart then Rebased.
By clicking on the plus [ + ] symbol, the Series is copied into the chart summary box on the left of the screen.
Go back to ‘Time Series Data’ Analysis option, run the search for the next company’s Share Price and repeat the process, to include all those required in the chart summary box:
Execute the search by clicking on the ‘Run Now!‘ button at the top right of the screen.
By virtue of specifying ‘Rebased’, this represents the different series as an index, beginning at 100. This allows a relative view of performance. Hence, a movement from 100 to 95 represents a 5 per cent decrease in the share price of a company. All three companies are showing a value of about 40 (as at 24/3/2017), indicating they have lost approximately 60 per cent of their value, as expressed by Share Price, over the last 10 years.
Price Index Comparison
By comparing a number of companies within a particular Price Index, it is possible to get an appreciation of how the companies have performed relative to the whole index. Tesco PLC, J Sainsbury PLC and Marks & Spencer Group PLC are all part of the FTSE100 Price Index.
Using the Analysis option ‘Comparison Line Chart – Rebased to First’ gives a scale relating to the first series (FTSE100). To do this, run a search for the FTSE100 data first and subsequently the companies also part of the index. Changes to the search above include:
Data Category: ‘Equity Indices’, Datatype: ‘Price Index’ and run the search for data.
Next, change back to the settings for Companies (Data Category: Equities, Datatype: Price (Adjusted Default), run the searches for data and add to the chart summary box [ + ].
Next, click on the ‘Run Now’ button to execute the search.
This chart gives a clear graphical representation of the relative performance of company Share Prices and the FTSE100 Price Index. The competition from low cost retailers such as Aldi and Lidl is a factor in the poor recent performance of Tesco PLC and J Sainsbury PLC in particular, reflected in the above chart.
Datastream is available to current students and staff of The University of Manchester.
Students are often confused when viewing company financial statements (Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement) in different databases. The reason being, that the values displayed, for the same company, often don’t match.
Commercial vs Educational Emphasis
This confusion is understandable. Surely values for the same company, for the same statement, should be identical? In explaining this apparent anomaly, the primary purpose of specialised financial databases needs to be appreciated. That is, to provide data/information to allow analysis of many types of securities – different classes of assets, such as Equities – or companies.
The key user groups are within business and commerce. However, there is sufficient useful content, to also be of value to educational establishments, and therefore students – but business users have priority.
For example, when seeking to gauge the relative performance of two or more companies, from different countries, with different accounting standards, there is a clear logic in being able to compare on a like-with-like basis. Therefore, when looking at a value in an Income Statement, for example, it would be clear which company had superior performance. To compare companies otherwise, the so-called apples with oranges analogy, lacks transparency and is ineffective.
Hence, the evolution of common methods for calculating accounting values in different databases, to ease comparisons between companies. Bloomberg Professional and Thomson ONE.com databases both reflect this need, but use different terminology. A look at a company example is instructive.
Bloomberg Professional – Financial Analysis [FA]
The Income Statement (‘I/S’) for Tesco PLC, a UK supermarket group, is set out below, using the Financial Analysis function, within Bloomberg Professional.
Note that the tab towards the top left: ‘Adjusted’, is highlighted in blue. This is the default view, meaning this is how data is normally displayed for financial statements in Bloomberg Professional. Therefore, companies from different countries can be compared on a like-with-like basis, when the same currency is selected (top right of screen). In the example above, this is set to GBP, or Great Britain Pounds.
Another option is also highlighted – the ‘As Reported’ tab. This selection would display values from the company’s official annual report and accounts.
Thomson ONE.com – Reuters Fundamentals
The Income Statement for Tesco PLC is displayed again, using Thomson ONE.com database: drop down menu selection:
Company Overviews – Fundamentals – Reuters Fundamentals
The ‘Report Format’ option on the left, gives the choice of ‘Company Specific’ (official values – annual report and accounts) and ‘Standardised’. When the ‘Standardised’ view has been selected and ‘Update View’ clicked on, the drop down menu to choose a common currency become available, thus allowing like-with-like comparisons, between different companies.
The ability to quickly search for companies within databases such as Bloomberg Professional or Thomson ONE.com is an effective means to locate company financial statements and take advantage of like-with-like comparisons.
When viewing financial statements within databases, the realisation that a company’s annual report and accounts is the ultimate (official) source, represented by ‘As Reported’ in Bloomberg Professional and ‘Company Specific’ in Thomson ONE.com, can help to avoid confusion for students, in conducting company analysis.
Bloomberg Professional and Thomson ONE.com are databases available to current students and staff of The University of Manchester.
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.
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.
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.
This reduced the number of results to 5 reports. Click on ‘Tesco PLC’ report title (highlighted).
Click on ‘View’.
Click on ‘Submit’ to proceed:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Selecting the column title (‘Market Cap’) orders the companies by this field’s values. The Excel icon allows data export.
The data displayed within 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
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.
By selecting ‘Pharmaceuticals’, then ‘Update’, the number of results are shown. In this case 1,146 companies:
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.
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].
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:
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Next, type your email address and question, then click ‘Submit’, for a response within 24 hours.
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]
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].
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.
This displays content previously available through the BESS function.