Company Research

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Company Research

  1. 1. Business & Company Information: Sources & Strategies Research Refresher Laura M. Scott March 27, 2009
  2. 2. Goals for today <ul><li>Cover the basics of company research in law practice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategies and favorite sources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Provide examples of available online tools and their features </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the kinds of information you can (and can’t) expect to find </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why research companies? <ul><li>Marketing and business development </li></ul><ul><li>Conflicts checking </li></ul><ul><li>Litigation </li></ul><ul><li>Due diligence </li></ul><ul><li>Competitive intelligence: research other law firms </li></ul>
  4. 4. Scope of factual research <ul><li>Depends on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>reason for the research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>time constraints </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>financial constraints </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Internet research tools <ul><li>Free & fee-based tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some free tools require registration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some free partial access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lots of fee-based (per search & subscription) sources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t forget outside resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g., Local public and university business libraries, government libraries, private subscription libraries </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Researching Companies
  7. 7. Scenario <ul><li>You’re preparing to visit a potential corporate client. What do you want to know? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Info about the people you’re meeting with </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Info about the company’s business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any recent legal issues they’ve had </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Their competitors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trends in their industry </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. General tips for company research <ul><li>Know whether the company is public or private. </li></ul><ul><li>Kinds & sources of info may differ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public - SEC filings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Private - D&B, other private company reports, Secretary of State’s office </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What if you don’t know? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Try Hoover’s </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Good example of a combination free and fee-based source.
  10. 12. General tips, cont. <ul><li>Start with the company website… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Especially the “About us,” “Investor relations,” and “Company history” sections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>...but do your own research, too. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 19. Earnings conference call
  12. 20. News of potential legal interest
  13. 24. General tips, cont. <ul><li>Consider whether a fee-based source would add value to your research. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Save time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The only source? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nicely formatted output </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better search and navigation functionality </li></ul></ul>
  14. 25. Specific kinds of company information
  15. 26. General background <ul><li>Company info, general industry info and competitors </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing & good client service – important to understand client’s business. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sources (examples): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SEC filings and annual reports to shareholders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industry-specific journals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Company reports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hoover’s </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Business Source Complete (Datamonitor company reports; industry journals; market reports) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mergent Online </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bloomberg, Lexis, and Westlaw </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Yahoo! Finance </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 27. Finding Business Source Complete & Mergent
  17. 29. Includes many scholarly business journals and useful profiles and reports
  18. 31. Report is based mostly on SEC filings, but provides a quick executive summary.
  19. 32. Another useful fee-based source for company info. (Find it the same way you’d find Business Source Complete.)
  20. 34. Good for a quick overview Another cool feature: Variety of output options - simple “tear sheet” to complex customized reports.
  21. 36. Different amounts of info, depending on your subscription
  22. 39. Lots of search options “Westlaw Business,” an example of a fee-based source for securities filings
  23. 48. Business & Legal News <ul><ul><li>News about the company, including management changes, legal issues, trends affecting its industry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why? – Understand the client’s business and industry and potential legal needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>LexisNexis (or Westlaw) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bloomberg </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Business journals (e.g., WSJ.com ,) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Local/regional business newspapers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>e.g., Bizjournals.com </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Industry-specific trade journals </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Try Business Source Complete or Dialog </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 49. Great for local/regional business news.
  25. 50. Lots of cities/regions
  26. 54. Corporate structure <ul><li>Family trees/subsidiaries </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conflicts checking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Due diligence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SEC Form 10-K, Ex. 21 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Directory of Corporate Affiliations (Lexis) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dun & Bradstreet Family Tree Finder </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mergent Online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industry-specific sources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>e.g., Best’s Company Reports (insurance/reinsurance) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  27. 56. Public company, simple research task: use free SEC filings
  28. 59. List of exhibits to 10-K
  29. 60. List of subsidiaries is always in the same exhibit
  30. 62. Private company: May have to use a fee-based source
  31. 63. Corporate family tree, useful formatting.
  32. 64. Bonus: Nice private company report
  33. 68. Not much financial data
  34. 69. Important people <ul><li>Identification and biographical information about officers, directors, insiders, general counsel </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing – do we know someone at this company? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Company website (“About us”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SEC filings (public) – 10-K, among others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Private company reports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>e.g., Dun & Bradstreet </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secretary of State (sometimes) </li></ul></ul>
  35. 70. Dun & Bradstreet Too small for private company reports on Lexis or Business Source Complete Range of reports $-$$$$$
  36. 73. State of Incorporation <ul><li>Not always the same as corporate HQ location </li></ul><ul><li>Why do you need to know? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Often stated in complaints </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity jurisdiction </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public companies: Cover sheet of SEC filings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Private companies: Secretary of State </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Free </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fee-based source: ( CTAdvantage.com ) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  37. 74. Again, free is fine for this task…
  38. 75. … and fine here, too.
  39. 76. Registered agent <ul><li>a.k.a. “agent for service of process” </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Serve papers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Secretary of State </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CT Corp. ( CTAdvantage.com ) </li></ul></ul>
  40. 78. Corporate documents <ul><li>Company by-laws, articles of incorp. </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Amendment of by-laws, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Due diligence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public companies: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>SEC filings - 10-K Ex. 3 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Old filings - commercial SEC sources </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Private companies: Secretary of State </li></ul></ul>
  41. 84. Financial data <ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Due diligence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is this party judgment-proof? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public companies: SEC filings (10-K audited, 10-Q unaudited) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Private companies: Dun & Bradstreet Business Information Reports </li></ul></ul>
  42. 85. Legal agreements <ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Due diligence – Existing contracts might affect your deal. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Forms for other deals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exhibits to 10-Ks and 10-Qs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use a fee-based service </li></ul></ul></ul>
  43. 86. Recent or ongoing legal activity <ul><li>Litigation, labor disputes, recent deals, environmental issues, real estate transactions, permitting issues </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Due diligence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SEC Filings - 10-Q or 10-K “Legal proceedings” section (“material” litigation only); recent 8-Ks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>News searches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Case and docket searches </li></ul></ul>
  44. 87. Other law firms representing them <ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competitive intelligence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SEC Filings – ‘33 Act “S” forms, sometimes 8-Ks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Courtlink Strategic Profiles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Case & docket searches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Surveys (ALM & local legal press) </li></ul></ul>
  45. 88. Courtlink Strategic Profiles
  46. 89. Federal courts and some state courts
  47. 93. AIG’s outside counsel in federal civil cases for 1st Q 2009
  48. 94. Formatting options
  49. 96. American Lawyer Media
  50. 97. Must subscribe for full report and data
  51. 98. Similar kind of survey at the local/regional level
  52. 101. Historical stock prices <ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Litigation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Free sources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>WSJ/Big Charts </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Yahoo! Finance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Google Finance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fee-based sources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lexis, Westlaw, some fee-based SEC databases </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use for: additional data, older prices, delisted companies </li></ul></ul></ul>
  53. 106. Questions?

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