Donna F. Cavallini is Manager of Competitive Knowledge with the law firm of Kilpatrick Stockton. She has a J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law, and was Library Program Administrator for the Florida Attorney General's Office before joining the firm.
Lexis Publishing Co. has launched a new tool to facilitate corporate information gathering. CompanyAnalyzer, a web-only product, is a convenient interface to a wide variety of legal, company/financial, market and industry, and public records databases. Searchers simply complete a template search form by inputting the name of the company in question, specifying the number of documents to be retrieved, and choosing the sources to be searched, and in moments a search report is generated. CompanyAnalyzer databases include:
- Federal and State Cases Combined Jury Verdicts and Settlements
- EPA, Department of Interior, & OSHA Administrative Decisions
- Environmental Agency Decisions, Selected States
- Utility, Design and Plant Patents
- Combined Federal & State Trademarks
- U.S. Copyrights Combined Files
- National Financial Institutions Sanctions and Legal Actions
- Martindale-Hubbell(R) Law Directory - United States Listings
- Directory of Corporate Affiliations
- Executive Affiliations SEC Annual Reports to Shareholders
- SEC Proxy Statements Hoovers Company Profile
- Nelson Information, Inc.
- Vickers Securities Report and Institutional Holdings
- Standard & Pools Register of Corporations
- Standard & Poor's Register of Corps, Directors & Executives
- Standard & Poor's Descriptions Plus News
- U.S. Private Company Reports
- Company Intelligence Profiles - US
- Company Intelligence Profiles - International
- Company Press Releases Recent Company News (Recommended for large companies)
- All Company News Business and Financial Abstracts
- The Market Share Reporter
- National Trade Data Bank Market Reports
- Combined Corporation and Limited Partnership Information
- Combined Fictitious Business Name Information
- U.S. District Courts - Civil Docket Summaries
- Combined State Civil Filings
- Combined Judgment and Lien Filings
- Combined Bankruptcy Filings
- Combined Uniform Commercial Code Liens Filings
- Combined Deed Transfers and Tax Assessor Records
The CompanyAnalyzer is an attractive tool in terms of both economy and efficiency. Eliminating the need to guestimate search costs, the service is priced on a two-tier flat-fee basis: the database search and citation list are available for $25; the full Company Analyzer report, which includes printing charges regardless of the number of documents to be printed, is $90. Eliminating the need to perform multiple consecutive searches, the service saves researcher time by conveniently aggregating the databases most frequently consulted in connection with due diligence, conflicts, mergers and acquisitions, competitive intelligence and business development inquiries.
Well-informed searchers will already be familiar with WestGroup's CO-PROFILE product, a tool also designed to generate corporate profile reports. Like CompanyAnalyzer, Company Profile reports are generated using data from a variety of sources:
- Gale Group data, including 'Business Rankings International', 'Encyclopedia of Associations', and 'Notable Corporate Chronologies'
- ILX Systems stock price data
- Insider trading information from First Call Corp.
- Institutional holding information from Thomson Financial Research
- Financial statement overviews from Media General Financial Services, Inc.
- Nelson's Brokerage Summaries
- Market data and analysis from Snapshots International
While both CO-PROFILE and CompanyAnalyzer provide similar information and serve similar functions, researchers should be aware of some important differences between the two services:
While both CO-PROFILE and CompanyAnalyzer reports include the cost of printing any documents generated, the fee for CO-PROFILE is $35, while Company Analyzer costs $25/$90, depending on which level of service is chosen (see supra).
CO-PROFILE is accessible via both the web and Westmate proprietary software. CompanyAnalyzer is only available via the web.
CO-PROFILE presents the searcher with a formatted, presentation-style report consisting of up to twelve "content modules." CompanyAnalyzer presents results in the format of the original source document (public record, news article, etc.).
With information on products and brands and industry data (market share, competitors, etc.), CO-PROFILE reports seem to target the needs of business development. CompanyAnalyzer searches for federal and state cases (including civil docket summaries) and intellectual property portfolio information seem to be focused on due diligence information needs.
While CO-PROFILE scope notes indicate that the report is compiled at the time of the request, a closer examination of the currency notes for each of the report segments (e.g., key people) reveals that many segments are updated only on an annual basis. Conversely, Company Analyzer product notes state that all documents generated are the result of real time searches. Because currency is thus only a distinguishing factor insofar as public records are concerned, and because the West product does not provide information from public records in its report, any comparison on this basis is spurious.
Searching for information on companies whose names are comprised of very common words is a common research problem. CO-PROFILE addresses this difficulty by allowing the searcher to pinpoint the particular company in question by supplying additional identifying information, such as address, ticker symbol, or SIC code, and then providing a citation list of companies matching the specified search terms, from which the searcher can then choose the appropriate entity. Company Analyzer does not offer this preliminary screening functionality, but searchers can exclude obviously irrelevant documents at the citations list stage of report generation by deselecting citations from a checklist.
Although the primary value of these commercial services beyond their obvious authoritativeness is their convenience, those who can afford to spend a little time can gather some good information from web-based resources. While most sites will overlap in terms of basic corporate information (company profiles, key executives, recent corporate news and securities filings), some sites offer unique services worth remembering: researchers can obtain a target company s key industry competitors at Hoover's Online and Business.com, pending litigation at CompanySleuth and Edgar Online -- use the drop-down boxes at the top of the page), and registered patents, trademarks and domain names at CompanySleuth.1 Moreover, available information is not limited to companies that are publicly traded; like their fee-based counterparts, both Hoover's and Business.com databases include data on a number of private companies.
While choosing a particular path to company information will depend on a number of factors, the primary considerations will be the use to which the information will be put and budget issues (time and money). For those asked to perform this sort of research on a regular basis, it is worth a bit of time to organize and maintain a checklist of sources to be consulted, including a folder of annotated bookmarks to useful business information websites, so that valuable resources will not be inadvertently forgotten. But whether through commercial services or do-it-yourself compilations, the data on public and private companies is out there and savvy searchers will know when to use what resources, and why.
- 1 Keep this site on your radar screen. CompanySleuth will soon launch a revamped site, offering such additional features as company history and products and services. A preview of what is to come is available at http://www.companysleuth.com/snapshot_demo.cfm. At that time, the site will shifting its business model to that of a paid subscription service. This change is scheduled to take effect this month, but as of this article's publication date, the service remains free. <back to text>