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Researching Industries: The First Step

Posted by lrath on March 24, 2008

An industry analysis is a common research assignment. If you are new to this type of research and don’t know where to start, I recommend that you begin by reading the Standard & Poor’s Industry Survey in the library database called Standard & Poor’s NetAdvantage. S&P publishes Industry Surveys covering fifty-two industries, pretty much matching the S&P 500 industry sectors. Reports are written by S&P analysts, many of whom are CFA’s, and include their evaluation of the current state of the industry, a look at future trends and background on the industry and how it operates in the U.S. The reports are supported with many tables and charts that draw upon statistics from the government, industry trade associations and market research firms.


The Industry Surveys aren’t just a place to get Standard & Poor’s opinion, the reports include two sections that students can use as a foundation for further research:

  • “How to research an industry” offers common characteristics and business models for the industry.
  • “How to research a company” talks about the metrics that are important to both qualitative and quantitative analysis of a company.

The reports also include key industry ratios, tables of financial data for comparable companies (based on revenues, net income,and other measures) and a list of trade journals, trade associations, market research firms, government agencies and other sources of information on the industry.

Reports are available back to 1996 if you need to examine trends. You will find the Industry Surveys in the database, Standard & Poor’s NetAdvantage that’s available from the Library’s databases page. If you are connecting to the database from off campus, you will be prompted to type in your Baruch username and password.

(Thanks to Prof. Louise Klusek, business librarian, for this post!)


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