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.
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].
How many employees work for a company?
This would appear to be a simple question. But perhaps not…
Although the company in question will have a more exacting answer as to values at any particular point in time, this would be considered commercially sensitive information. Therefore, values are typically made available at a single point in time, such as the end of the company’s reporting period. This is then accessible via a number of business databases.
Unfortunately, if you look in different databases, you tend to get different answers – for example, looking at Tesco PLC, which is a publicly quoted UK company, a number of values are specified depending on the database consulted:
This shows 386,086 employees and helpfully specifies a date point of 28 February 2015, but displayed in US date format [02/28/15]. This reflects Tesco’s reporting period dates – essentially the start of March to the end of February.
This gives a different value [506,984] but specifies the same date – the end of the reporting period.
Datastream (Thomson Reuters)
The datatype is ‘WC07011 – Employees’ and the definition notes: Employees represents the number of both full time and part time employees of the company. It excludes: Seasonal employees, Emergency employees. Footnotes: D. Average employees. This gives a value of 506,984.
This specifies a value of 386,086.
When searching for Tesco PLC, the ‘Number of Employees’ is stated as: 517,802.
Company Annual Report
Perhaps one way to obtain clarity is to look in the ‘Tesco Annual Report and Financial Statements 2015’, accessible through Thomson Research or PI Navigator databases, for example.
Page 20, shows the following breakdown, for a total of 517,802 (220,257 + 297,545).
If you were to stop at this point in the Annual Report, you would miss further details. Hence, on page 100, there are additional details:
This helps to show which values the various databases have selected. Thus, Capital IQ has used the combined values [220,257 + 297,545 = 517,802] from page 20 of the Annual Report, in contrast to the other databases.
Thomson ONE.com/Datastream have used the ‘Average Number of Employees’ measure [506,984] and Bloomberg/Fame have used the ‘Average Number of Full-Time Equivalents’ [386,086] for 2015 – that is, the end of the reporting period, specifically 28 February 2015.
The lesson to be drawn when using data from a particular database – always quote the source, to ensure clarity and remove uncertainty. In the case of Employee data, the company’s Annual Report is the ultimate source.
However, the difference in total values between page 20 [517,802 (220,257 + 297,545)] and those quoted on page 100 [506,984 and 386,086] is a mystery. Specifying a page number in your reference is therefore recommended!
Bloomberg Professional, Datastream, Thomson ONE.com, Thomson Research, Fame and Capital IQ are databases available to current students and staff of The University of Manchester.
The ability to locate results by geographical location can be troublesome when having to consult multiple copies of a company’s Annual Report & Accounts.
Using a business database can make this task quicker and easier.
To get the best out of this database, it is useful to know that it is designed to work with the Internet Explorer browser.
In addition, it is advisable to select ‘Compatibility View Settings’ from the tools menu (represented by the ‘cog’ icon, then ‘Add’ and ‘Close’) to ensure all options display correctly.
Type in the company name in the search box at the top left of the screen and select:
Next, click on ‘Full Summary’ from the Company Overview screen.
From the Financial Reports page displayed, it is possible to reveal more search options by selecting the small icon towards the upper right of the screen.
With the ‘Summary’ tab selected at the top of the search screen, the Report categories available include Annual Key Items, Interim Key Items, Interim Key Items TTM, Business Segment and Geographic Segment.
For ‘Geographic Segment’ this means that data (‘Measure’ options: Sales, Assets, Capital Expenditure, Depreciation and Operating Income) are available for those areas in which results are reported, for a given year. In the case of Tesco PLC for Fiscal Period 2015* above (looking at data for the 12 months to 28 February 2015, displayed in US date format: 02/28/2015), this includes the UK, Asia and Rest of Europe.
Repeat the process for each year by selecting a new year and clicking on the ‘OK’ button to display data.
Whole Company Results – Multiple Years
For individual financial statements, select the appropriate tab at the top of the screen. These include Balance Sheet, Income Statement and Cash Flow Statement, with (Report type ‘Annual’ showing) data for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or All years.
Clicking on the small square icon at the end of an item in the financial statement being viewed will provide a pop-up window with a definition. For example, in the Income Statement for Tesco PLC above, ‘Operating Income’ is defined.
*Fiscal Period: the period a company uses for accounting purposes – reporting results. In the case of Tesco PLC, March to the end of February.
Last month saw the release of the latest version of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office suite for Windows, named version 2016. It brings new features and a design more in line with that of versions of Office released for iOS and Android. Many students beginning their studies this month will arrive at university with this version of Excel on their computers.
This is not a concern for users of the most specialist financial databases at The University of Manchester Library as the databases are installed on cluster PCs which will remain on Windows 7 with Office 2010; it may become a matter of concern for those at other institutions who are responsible for PC updates in the coming months.
I have run a few tests installing Thomson Reuters Datastream Advance for Office, Capital IQ Office Plug-in and Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link on Windows 7 and Windows 10 systems with Office 2016, specifically to check if their Excel add-ins work correctly. (I was not able to test Bloomberg due to its more limited restrictions.)
Datastream in Excel 2010: The version of Datastream that is most used at The University of Manchester is Datastream Advance for Office (DAO), officially supported by Office 2007 and 2010 32-bit versions and no newer. (There is a version for 64-bit Office which I have not tested, called Datastream for Office (DFO), and a Datastream charting add-in, also not tested.)
Datastream in Excel 2013: Although Office 2013 is not officially supported for DAO, I managed to install it on a Windows 10 32-bit tablet and got a Request Table to work. (Tip: save the Request Table document the first time it asks you to, otherwise you will get into trouble with macro-enabled filetypes later.) I have seen the previous version of DAO, designed for Office 2003, working with Office 2013 32-bit on Windows 8.1 64-bit (sorry, screen shot not available).
Datastream in Excel 2016: Although Office 2016 is also not officially supported for DAO, I managed to install it on a Windows 7 32-bit PC and got a Request Table to work. I could not install it on a Windows 10 64-bit PC, using Office 2010 or Office 2016; it gave error messages such as “Compile error in hidden module: AFOHelp”.
In summary: Datastream works for me in Office 2016 with Windows 7 32-bit and possibly in some other situations but more testing is required.
I had a mixed but unsuccessful experience using the Capital IQ Office Plug-in. On a Windows 10 PC where I had already installed the software to use with Office 2010, running the Excel add-in on Excel 2016 would let me load the Capital IQ ribbon tab, access the template library, but it would not download any real data. I tried the usual troubleshooting methods but could not get the data to work.
When I tried to install Capital IQ Office Plug-in on Windows 7 where Office 2016 was installed, I got an error message that I could not work around: “Unsupported Office Version”. I guess Office 2016 is too far ahead of Office 2003 for it to recognise, even though I had Office 2010 installed as well.
I have not tried to contact their help desk yet; perhaps there will be a newer version released to address this. I am hopeful for this with Capital IQ; there will not be an update for either of these Thomson Reuters products tested today.
Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link
Unfortunately I was unable to run Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link (TRSL) in Office 2016. It is not officially supported in anything newer than Office 2010 so I was not expecting it to start working again in Office 2016, but running on the Windows 10 PC Office 2010 showed part of the Excel add-in loading; perhaps it had worked on that same PC a few months earlier.
Many of the archive specialist database platforms that researchers use are dependent on old and ageing pieces of software. It is asking a lot to expect software written over five years ago to continue working in successive releases of the Windows operating system, and an even harder challenge to make it work within multiple Office environments on each of those platforms. Sometimes these old applications would require major redevelopment to work, sometimes just a tiny tweak. If that tiny tweak requires a disbanded team and development environment to be resurrected, it’s just as unlikely to be fixed as a major job. Sadly, the Thomson Reuters Excel add-ins fall into one of these categories. We will have to wait until Eikon is ready for wider use in education, hopefully before the Windows 7 operating system reaches the end of its life for receiving security updates in January 2020.
The newly released Windows 10 is a currently a free upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x. It claims to “transform the way you work and play” amongst other things. It also marks the launch of a new web browser Microsoft Edge, replacing the 20-year old Internet Explorer (IE). Edge is a great move forward for web developers and hopefully will be preferred by end users but, as always, change comes at a cost; the many legacy web-based platforms that were built for IE 6 or later may not work. Fortunately, IE 11 is still available for the sake of compatibility, but is using Windows 10 and multiple web browsers a smooth ride?
How compatible are our business databases with Windows 10?
Some of the specialist financial and business databases that The University of Manchester subscribes to have been tested below.
Not compatible with Microsoft Edge:
These two reputable products are widely used but they are built on old technology (old by web development standards). They were already limited to work on Internet Explorer only in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1.
ThomsonONE.com shows a blank screen if loaded in Microsoft Edge.
Thomson Research will load but some of the dialog windows do not work in Microsoft Edge.
Solution: Click in the new Search box next to the Start button (bottom left of the screen), type “Internet Explorer” and open the old browser. From here, go to the Library website and find ThomsonONE.com in the usual way. (Note, if you try the option to “Open with Internet Explorer” from within Edge may not work for this website.)
Compatible with Microsoft Edge:
So far, I have found that all out other web-based specialist databases are compatible with Microsoft Edge.
Please comment below this post if you find otherwise! I will update this post as necessary.
A later post on Business Research Plus will explore databases that use Microsoft Office 2016 and Windows 10.