As research students begin to scope their dissertation projects, they often ask about the availability of company data for a specific market (country). Two basic questions are how many companies are covered by a database, and how much historical data is available.
This post will take South Africa and Datastream as a concrete example, but it can be adapted to other databases.
Using Thomson Reuters Datastream Navigator Critera Search we can search for :-
- Market equals South Africa
- Major Security is Yes and Primary Quote is Yes (to ensure that there is only one equity series for a company)
- Status is All (to include both active and dead/inactive companies)
This search returned 1295 results, and on the Base Date header we can select the results to be oldest to newest
A total of 1295 is a reasonable number of companies, and the results show that data is available from January 1 1973.
This list can be downloaded for further analysis using the Excel icon at the top right.
One of the columns in the Datastream Navigator output, WS, indicates whether the company is in Worldscope, and therefore whether company accounts information is available.
The summary statistics for WS and Equity Status are
|in Worldscope||Not in Worldscope|
The Datastream Base Date (BDATE) variable gives the first date for which price data is available for a company (equity series). There is a Worldscope variable WC11516, Date added to product, but when a company is added this can include historical accounts data. For example, the company AECI (dscode 930060) has a value for WC11516 of 19920609 indicating it was added to Worldscope in June 1992. However a time series request for net sales (WC01001) shows that data is available at least from 1980.
Creating a Datastream list and then doing a few test requests is the quickest way to check the availability of specific data items. See our guide Datastream Part 2 (List Creation) for more details.
Datastream covers approximately 1300 South African companies, about 400 of which are active (on May 28 2014), and price data goes back to 1973. Company accounts data is available for approx 850 of these 1300 companies, and data pre-1990 looks limited.
A quick equity screen on Thomson ONE.com has 324 active South African companies (386 if active/inactive is selected). (This is what we would expect – dead companies are removed from Thomson ONE.com as they are no longer of interest to professional investors.)
Thomson Reuters Datastream now has a updated version of Datastream Navigator (version 4.5).
The most obvious difference is that the “datatype search” screen has been redesigned – see screenshot below.
As usual in Datastream, first check that you have the correct category in the top left (choose Equities or Equity Indices or Exchange Rates or Interest Rates or Economics or …)
The results are displayed using “Sort by Ranking” as default. For equities and equity indices the datatype RI (total return index) is a little way down. (I guess it is not as popular with commercial Datastream users as academic ones.) If you want “key datatypes” then use the “Display Hierarchy” link on the left-hand side.
Selecting a row will give the definition in a pop-up window – clicking the symbol link selects the datatype. Use the check-boxes at the left if you want to select multiple datatypes.
The search box works well with the sort by ranking – search for “debt” and “Total Debt”, “Long Term Debt” and “Net Debt” are in the top five of 352 results. Searching for “book to market” finds the MTBV (Market to Book Value) datatype – improving on the previous Datastream Navigator version -see Datastream searching for book to market (posted April 2013)
There is further information available on the “Help” tab, including a Thomson Reuters training video What’s new in Datastream Navigator 4.4 (Thomson Reuters Datastream customers only).
Finally, you may wish to use our three Datastream getting started guides, updated to reflect the changes above.
- Datastream: Part 1 (Getting Started)
- Datastream: Part 2 (List Creation)
- Datastream: Part 3 (Request Tables)
Previous posts on Datastream Navigator:
After looking at all currently listed UK companies (part 1) we can now look at producing a list that includes delisted/dead companies. (Note that delisted/dead companies may still exist but their shares are no longer actively traded.)
Thomson Reuters Datastream has worldwide coverage and includes a number of pre-defined constituent lists that can be used as a starting point.
However, as with the list of current UK companies from the London Stock Exchange (LSE), there are a number of filters that we might want to apply.
205 securities are not listed on the LSE – most of these are on ICAP Sec & Der.E (formerly UK Plus) exchange, some have no value for EXNAME. 169 securities are not the major security of the company. 86 securities are not the primary listing of the security.
- All securities on WSCOPEUK on 28 May 2013 – No of securities 5015
- Securities on LSE, that are major and primary (EXDSCD = ‘LN’ and MAJOR = ‘Y’ and ISINID = ‘P’ – No of securities/companies 4670
- Securities/companies that are not Investment Trusts or Closed-End Funds (TYPE = ‘EQ’) – No of securities/companies 4055
- Of these 4055 securities/companies, 2732 are dead/suspended and 1323 are active securities/companies – 517 on LSE Main market and 806 on LSE AIM market (Datastream variable REMK identifies AIM listed companies but only if they are active)
One potential limitation of WSCOPEUK is that it only includes companies that delisted/died in 1985 or later. Indeed the data for early years looks sparse – it has 7 companies that died in 1985 and 11 companies that died in 1986.
Datastream also has the constituent lists FBRIT (Research UK active) and DEADUK. Using the same filters as above – first FBRIT
- All securities on FBRIT (active securities) on 28 May 2013 – No of securities 1640
- Securities on LSE, that are major and primary (EXDSCD = ‘LN’ and MAJOR = ‘Y’ and ISINID = ‘P’ – No of securities/companies 1595
- Securities/companies that are not Investment Trusts or Closed-End Funds (TYPE = ‘EQ’) – No of securities/companies 1549
- Of these 1549 securities/companies, 39 suspended, 563 LSE Main Market, 947 LSE AIM market
- All securities on DEADUK (dead securities) on 28 May 2013 – No of securities 8568
- Securities on LSE, that are major and primary (EXDSCD = ‘LN’ and MAJOR = ‘Y’ and ISINID = ‘P’ – No of securities/companies 5353
- Securities/companies that are not Investment Trusts or Closed-End Funds (TYPE = ‘EQ’) – No of securities/companies 5082
- Of these 5082 securities/companies, 4872 died after 31 Dec 1984, 678 died in 1985 and 150 died in 1986.
As in part 1 the number of companies depends on how you choose to define “UK listed companies” and the time period that you are considering.
One major advantage of using Thomson Reuters Datastream in this investigation is that the companies can be identified using codes (in this case the Datastream dscode) rather than names so getting further data is easier.
Looking at the Datastream Navigator summary data for WSCOPEUK it is clear that this constituent list includes unquoted companies for which there is no share price data, and there are many UK listed companies where Datastream has share price data but no accounting data in Worldscope. Having discovered while writing this post that there are more issues here than expected further analysis is postponed to part3.
The analysis of Datastream’s coverage of UK companies was done using the Datastream Navigator advanced search, and a DS request table to get static data about all members of constituent lists WSCOPEUK, FBRIT and DEADUK – see screenshot for example results.
Worldscope is the global company accounts “database” from Thomson Reuters and thus a key research resource for company information. It is accessed using either Datastream (active and inactive companies) or Thomson One Banker (active companies only).
Worldscope is designed to allow comparison of companies that report under different accounting rules worldwide. In addition, it records company information using four templates: banks, industrial companies, insurance companies and other financial companies. This means that many of Worldscope’s datatypes only have values for a subset of the companies covered (e.g. US companies).
For full details of the Worldscope methodology and the definitions of the datatypes you can consult the Worldscope Data Definitions Guide (Issue 14) available from the Datastream Extranet.
The Worldscope Coverage Report, also available from the Datastream Extranet, for 28th Feb 2013 includes the following coverage information:
- Argentina – total companies 144, active 105, inactive 39
- Australia – total companies 2903, active 1957, inactive 946
- United Kingdom – total companies 5093, active 1890, inactive 3203
- United States – total companies 21130, active 9175, inactive 11955
- All countries – total companies 74757, active 46704, inactive 28053
The Worldscope Data Definitions Guide (Issue 14) and Worldscope Coverage Report are also available in the folder Database Manuals\Worldscope when using the database PCs in the Eddie Davies Library
Related Worldscope posts:
- Worldscope – company accounts data definitions (April 2011)
- Datastream, Worldscope and Units (August 2011)
- Worldscope accounting data – finding data tips (July 2011)
Worldscope is not the only database for company accounts (financials) – for example Compustat, available through WRDS, is very popular with researchers studying US companies and Bloomberg’s Financial Analysis (FA) function gives company account information.
The term “company financials” is often used rather than “company accounts”.
The library has a number of useful resources for the financial analysis of public companies (companies quoted on a stock exchange).
Thomson Reuters’ Worldscope database provides historical accounting data – balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. It is available through Thomson One Banker and Datastream. Bloomberg also has accounting data – command FA (Financial Analysis).
Company Filings (including Annual Reports)
Factiva from Dow Jones is a extensive online news database covering a wide range of sources. (See How Business News can enhance you research for more details.) Bloomberg also provides a wide range of company, financial market and economic news.
For further tips: use tags below to find other posts on these databases, and look at the How to research … guides,
What are the units in Datastream for the accounting variables, e.g. total assets, net debt, EBITDA?
The accounting variables in Datastream are from Worldscope and despite a long detailed Worldscope Data Definitions Guide there is no detail about units. The answer from the Thomson Reuters helpdesk is as follows:
- Most of the accounting data from Worldscope to Datastream is in thousands.
- Per share data & number of employees are available in actual.
Note that this is specific to the Worldscope in Datastream:
- The variable/datatype Market Value (MV) is in millions, while the similar Worldscope variable Market Capitalization (WC08001) is in thousands (and an annual rather than a daily figure).
- Using Thomson One Banker to get Worldscope data the default unit (scaling factor) is millions, though this can be changed or you can explicitly request the details by asking for WS.TotalAssets.ScalingFactor or WS.TotalAssets.ScalingFactorText (see Excel examples below).
Adding #U to a datatype will often give the units:
- MV#U gives 1000000 as Market Value (MV) is in millions
- P#U gives 0.01 for UK shares as these are quoted in pence, 1 for US shares/stocks as these are quoted in dollars
Thanks to Aberconway Library blog (Cardiff Business School) for this – Finding the scale of datatypes within Datastream (posted July 2012)
For more information see:
The large number of data items (datatypes) available in Worldscope can make it difficult to find the ones that you want. The following tips might help.
Using the Datastream Navigator:
- Make sure you use reset to clear previous search criteria
- Use menu on left to restrict scope to Worldscope
- Try alternatives when searching by name
- Try restricting search to just key items – (Key WS Item option)
You can also try making a static request for say all Worldscope balance sheet items for industrial companies. See screencast http://screencast.com/t/2Fl1PQszf
Remember – just because a data item exists within Worldscope does not mean that data will be available for all companies – much depends on what the company reports in its annual accounts (and when a company was included in Worldscope – WC11516 Date Added to Product)
You can also use Thomson One Banker:
- Hover over a value in a Worldscope report to get the definition
- Use item lookup on Worldscope in the Report Writer (Web interface) or Report Wizard (TOB Excel add-in) – right-click to access definition
- Access pre-defined Worldscope report in the TOB Excel add-in – select a value and the TOB worldscope name will appear in the description of the cell contents e.g.
=PFDL(“ws.OperatingIncomeAfterDepr“, <date ref>, <comp ref>, <currency ref>)
The Worldscope data definitions guide provides the full detail of the templates for companies (Industrial, Banks, Insurance and Other Financial) and the definitions for all data items. See also:
- http://finabase.blogspot.com/2011/03/datastream-company-accounts-database.html (from Databaser blog)
- Worldscope meets Compustat: A Comparison of Financial Databases by Niels Ulbricht and Christian Weiner may be useful if you are looking to find comparable Worldscope and Compustat data items.