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April 1994

Library gems: relevant source of data for the accountant. (Accounting)

by Gibson, Charles

    Abstract- The typical business library offers several non-tax related publications that can prove to be valuable sources of data for accountants. Among the many references that should interest accounting professionals are the Standard Industrial Classification Manual, the Dept. of Commerce Financial Report, the Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios, Dun & Bradstreet's Industry Norms & Key Business Ratios, and Annual Statement Studies. Other informative materials that are worth noting are America's Corporate Families, The Million Dollar Directory, The Reference Book of Corporate Managements, Moody's Industrial Manual, and The International Directory of International Affiliations. There are also various publications from Standard & Poor's that are mines of information, including the Analyst's Handbook, Corporation Bond Guide, Corporation Stock Guide, and Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives.

The Standard Industrial Classification Manual is a statistical classification of businesses by industry which is used in compiling Federal economic statistics. The manual is published by the National Technical Information Service. The contents of the manual and determination of SICs is the responsibility of the OfFice of Management and Budget (OMB), which is under the executive office of the President.

Use of the SIC promotes comparability of various facets of the U.S. economy and defines industries in accordance with the composition and structure of the economy. Companies are classified by type of activity in which they are engaged. An organization's SIC consists of a two-digit major group number, three-digit industry group number, and a four-digit industry number. These numbers describe the business' identifiable level of industrial detail.

The Department of Commerce Financial Report is published quarterly by the Economic Surveys Division of the Bureau of the Census of the U.S. Federal government. It provides aggregate statistics on the financial results of U.S. corporations. The report's main purpose is to provide timely and accurate data on business financial conditions. This report presents estimated financial data for manufacturing, mining, and trade corporations.

The Department of Commerce Financial Report includes many tables including over 100 pages of financial data tables. These tables would likely be of interest to accountants because they consist of aggregate balance sheet and income statement tables broken down by category, such as all manufacturing. Five separate quarters of data are presented in each table. Balance sheet and income statement data are presented in dollars and in vertical common-size format.

Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios is a compilation of corporate tax return data published by Prentice Hall. The almanac includes a broad range of industries and represents a profile of corporate performance.

The almanac data is reported first in total by industry and then subdivided into 12 asset-size groups. This makes it convenient for comparing with the industry as a whole and then restricting the comparison to similar size firms in the industry.

The almanac provides the total number of tax returns by industry and asset-size group. Total receipts is also indicated by industry and asset-size group. In addition, 12 selected operating factors (in percent of net sales) and ten financial ratios are reported. Most of these items are also presented graphically.

Industry Norms & Key Business Ratios is published by Dun & Bradstreet. It is compiled from over one million financial statements included in the Dun & Bradstreet financial data base. Categorization is based on SIC code numbers and includes over 800 different lines of business. General data is included in a desktop edition of Industry Norms and Business Ratios.

An expanded set of industry norms and key business ratios are also published the corporate marketplace in the following five industry segments:

1. Agricultural/mining/construction/transportation/communication/utilities

2. Manufacturing

3. Wholesaling

4. Retailing

5. Finance/real estate/services

These industry segments are published in three formats: a three-year edition, a one-year edition, and a one-year edition limited to ratios.

Selected balance-sheet figures are in the first column and the "common- size" balance-sheet figures are in the second column. The balance-sheet figures are the result of translating the common-size percentages into dollar amounts. For example, if the median total assets for an SIC category are $700,000, and the common-size cash figure is 10%, then the cash figure is presented at $70,000. A similar presentation is made for the income statement, but only net sales, gross profit, and net profit after tax are included.

The section on ratios includes 14 ratios that are broken-down into median, upper quartile, and lower quartile. The 14 ratios are classified as solvency (6), efficiency (5), or profitability (3). The solvency ratios indicate a company's ability to meet short- and long-term obligations, efficiency ratios indicate how effective a company uses and controls its assets, while profitability ratios indicate a return to its owners.

Annual Statement Studies is published by Robert Morris Associates, an association of bank loan and credit officers. It includes composite financial data on manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing, service, and contracting lines of business. The data is submitted by banks that are members of Robert Morris Associates and covers over 350 different industries. This publication includes an extensive bibliography of other sources of financial data. The bibliography can be used to obtain additional data on industries covered in Annual Statement Studies or on industries not covered.

Annual Statement Studies groups the data by industry using the SIC code. A vertical common-size balance sheet and income statement is presented on a comparative five-year period. There are also 16 ratios presented for the median, upper quartile, and lower quartile. Thus, the spread between the upper and lower quartiles represents the middle 50% of all companies in the sample.

Current data is sorted by assets and sales for all industries except the contracting industry. This is particularly useful, as the financial statements of small firms are often quite different from that of larger firms.

The presentation includes net sales and total assets in dollars by industry. This is useful for comparing an individual firm to the industry in terms of sales and assets. In addition, the individual firm can be compared to the industry sorted by assets or sales.

America's Corporate Families is published by Dun's Marketing Services. It identifies major U.S. ultimate parent companies and their linkage to subsidiaries and divisions. It contains approximately 11,000 ultimate parent companies and 60,000 subsidiary companies and divisions.

Extensive data is included for these companies including the SIC number, state of incorporation, address, telephone number, annual sales volume, total employment, accountants, legal counsel, and ticker symbol. Companies are listed alphabetically, geographically, and by industry classification.

The Million Dollar Directory is published by Dun's Marketing Services. It identifies approximately 160,000 U.S. companies, of which approximately 140,000 are privately owned. It represents a leading source of information on privately owned companies.

The Million Dollar Directory covers many more companies than America's Corporate Families. For companies covered in both these directories, information on a company's subsidiaries and divisions should be traced through America's Corporate Families.

Typical data included in the Million Dollar Directory are address, annual sales volume, total employment, SIC number, officers and directors, year started, accounting firm, legal firm, public ownership, and state of incorporation. Companies are listed alphabetically, geographically, and by industry classification.

The Reference Book of Corporate Managements is published by Dun's Marketing Services. It represents a reference book of officers and directors in more than 12,000 companies. It provides an opportunity to determine the background of the men and women who run the companies. It is helpful in identifying officers or directors and their specific responsibilities.

The Directory of Corporate Affiliations is published by the National Register Publishing Company. It gives an in-depth view of over 5,000 major U.S. corporations and over 50,000 of their divisions, subsidiaries, and affiliates. Some of the data included are fiscal year- end, SIC numbers, fax number, officers, directors, and a description of the business.

There is a geographical index in which the companies are listed by state and city. A SIC index lists the companies in the directory by type of business. There is also a corporate responsibilities index that provides an alphabetical listing of personnel, their title, and company. The parent company can then be referred to for more complete information. Mergers, acquisitions, and name changes for parent companies are also included from 1976.

The International Directory of Corporate Affiliations is published by the National Register Publishing Company. Included are over 57,000 international companies profiles. It is similar to the Directory of Corporate Affiliations but it covers international businesses.

Value Line Investment Survey is published by the Value Line Publishing, Inc. It ranks industries for timeliness of stock prices and each stock is rated for timeliness and safety. Extensive data is presented for each stock for a five- to ten-year period. Approximately 100 industries and 1,700 individual firms are included in this publication.

In addition to the industry and individual stock data, 20 screens are presented. Some of the screens are stocks below book value, high yielding stocks, low P/E stocks, and high growth stocks.

Moody's Industrial Manual is published by Moody's Industrial Service. The data included in the manual is mostly obtained directly from the company, stockholders' reports, or reports filed with the SEC.

Bond descriptions and stock descriptions of the companies are included in this manual. An example for a bond would be the amount authorized, due date of the bond, interest, trustee, callable, sinking fund, rights on default, and bond rating. For most of the companies presented, there is also a history of the company and a description of the business and products.

Financial statements are presented using a format determined by Moody's. Thus, items have been combined and segregated to fit this format. Only selected footnotes are included, and those are presented in condensed form.

For many of the companies presented an extensive financial and operating data table is included for a six-year period. This table includes a statistical record, financial and operating ratios (17), and an analysis of operations. The analysis of operations represents a vertical, common- size income statement with ten items.

Compact Disclosure is published by Disclosure. It represents a database of textual and financial information on approximately 14,000 public companies. It is accessed by an easy to use menu-driven screen. The source of the data is reports filed by each company with the SEC.

The database includes the financial statements (annual and quarterly), 29 financial ratios for the prior three years, institutional holdings, ownership by insiders, president's letter, and financial footnotes.

The system can be searched in many ways including company name, ticker symbol, type of business (SIC), geographic area, stock price, financial ratios, and size of financial statement item.

The Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives (Register) includes over 55,000 companies and over 70,000 individuals. The companies include Canadian, and major international corporations and many privately held companies.

The company information includes address, telephone numbers, accounting firms, legal firms, stock exchange, SIC, annual sales, and number of employees. The information for individuals includes year of birth, place of birth, college, and year of graduation.

Standard & Poor's Industry Surveys provides a five- or six-year summary of selected operating data and ratios by individual firms in an industry. The number of firms in an industry varies widely from a low of approximately three to a high of approximately 30.

The Industry Report Service is a comprehensive investment research tool that includes fundamental investment data and forecasts by industry. For individual stocks within these industries, buy and sell recommendations are offered. Approximately 37 industries and 4,700 companies are included.

The Standard & Poor's Analyst's Handbook is arranged by industry, group, such as aerospace/defense. Three separate pages are presented for each industry group. The first page charts the market price of the industry group vs. industrials from 1959 to present. The second page presents 20 items for the industry on a per-share basis. Some of the items presented are sales, cash flow, earnings per share, dividends per share, and book value per share. The third page presents an industry income statement and balance sheet along with 10 financial ratios.

Standard & Poor's Corporation Bond Guide is a monthly publication presenting financial and statistical information on over 7,000 corporate bonds. There is a separate section covering municipal general obligation and revenue bonds. The guide is a helpful tool in determining the debt ratings of bonds and the bond price.

The Standard & Poor's Corporation Stock Guide is a monthly publication presenting financial data on more than 5,100 common and preferred stocks. It also has a separate section on over 700 mutual funds.

The guide is intended to help the investor screen out stocks that meet his or her investment criteria. The guide is a helpful tool in determining month-end stock prices.

The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

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