Competitive Intelligence: How to Search Online for Analysts’ Opinions

Analysts can be a good source of information in your competitive intelligence efforts. The major investment-banking firms all have analysts who cover specific business sectors, and many analysts have incredible “back channel” feeds from former employees of the organizations they cover. As always, be skeptical of the validity of information, but remember that these analysts can provide incredible insight into companies, both present and future.

The resources available from investment-banking companies and other corporate information resources and their analysts can be very valuable to the CI analyst. You typically have to pay for an analyst’s report, but the report is usually well worth the price.

When it comes to naming specific resources for obtaining analyst reports, the sources are too numerous to list. Here are a few to get you started (on most of these websites, you pull up the company profile, which provides a link to the analysts’ opinions):

  • Bloomberg Businessweek lets you search for corporate information.

  • footnoted* analysts study the fine print of the SEC documents, looking for “hidden” information — facts the corporation buried, legally, in the fine print. Emerging out of the Enron debacle, footnoted* is a great source for information on publicly traded companies in the U.S.

  • iStockAnalyst is another great place to look for analysts’ opinions and research. As with almost all such sites, the good stuff costs money to access.

  • Morningstar started as a service that ranked mutual funds, but now it’s a great research tool for finding information about specific companies. As on Yahoo! Finance, you can search for a company by name or ticker symbol, and Morningstar displays the company’s profile page. From there, you can choose Morningstar Premium and subscribe to the service for access to additional information.

  • Yahoo! Finance allows you to go in-depth when looking for analysts and reports. Click in the box next to Get Quotes, search for the company you want information about, and click its link, if necessary.

    When the company’s profile page appears, you can click the Analyst Coverage links to obtain more information. If you click Research Reports or Star Analysts, you get links to key analysts who follow the company, along with links to obtain research reports (usually for a fee).

Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) has a list of Internet resources that it maintains and provides access to for its members. (You have to log in to the site.) To gain access to this list, head to SCIP, click Resources in the navigation bar on the left, click Internet Resources, click the link to access the list, and follow the on-screen instructions to log in.

The major investment-banking resources, including Cantor Fitzgerald, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, all have analysts who specialize in certain industries and follow specific companies. In some cases you can find free information, but more often than not, their analysts’ reports and white papers are available only to clients.

Consider subscribing to a subscription service, such as Morningstar, to get access to analyst insights.

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