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Warren Buffett mentions that in his early days he used Moody's Manual, which centralized all public companies's information into a manual, to go through all companies and find interesting ones to pick---I search Moody's website, and could not find the manual.

  • Is Moody's manual still the central repository of information? if yes, where can I find it?
  • Is there a better resource/mechanism to gather and access companies' public information?
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4 Answers

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Moody's is now Mergent Online. It's no longer being printed, and must be accessed digitally. In order to browse the database, check with your local public library or university to see if you can get access. (A University will probably require you to visit for access).

Another good tool is Value Line Reports. They are printed information sheets on public companies that are updated regularly, and are convenient for browsing and for comparing securities. Again, check your local libraries.

A lot of the public information you may be looking for can be found on Yahoo Finance, for free, from home. Yahoo finance, will give financial information, ratios, news, filings, analysis, all in one place.

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@CQM: I am confused. Is Mergent Online and Value line private institutions that provide public companies information for a price? Are they taking the information from the SEC---Edgar Online---or which public database? –  Peretz Mar 10 '13 at 19:52
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Yes, Mergent and Value Line are private companies that provide data and insight into public companies. One source of this information is the SEC filings, which can be read in the Edgar Database. However, information about stock pricing and performance, as well as independent analysis, will not be found in the filings. This is where the added-value services of Value Line, Mergent, and Yahoo Finance come in. Also, the reports filed with the SEC can be long, challenging reads. In order to browse and compare companies, you'll want a service that can distill this info to just the relevant facts. –  MattMcA Mar 10 '13 at 20:06
    
I see. So what is the different among Mergent Online, Value Line, Morningstar, Google Finance, the research section in my Fidelity account, etc, etc? why using one over the other one? –  Peretz Mar 10 '13 at 20:25
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That's a good question! The research section of your Fidelity account is also a great resource. Again, everyone is playing with the same information, so it's going to come down to any value-added services. Mergent will offer you Mergent Reports, a two page analysis with a buy/sell recommendation. But, Fidelity will give you access to ten other analyst reports on the same security. Also, each platform will have a different interface, so there's a matter of personal preference. If you like browsing paper, you should check out Value Line. –  MattMcA Mar 10 '13 at 20:40
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Definitely, Industry Reports are offered by Mergent and Value Line. The Value Line ones are free, but not very thorough. Check out valueline.com/Stocks/Industries.aspx . Another great resource for industry research is MarketLine - again, check with your local libraries. MarketLine doesn't have the security analysis tools of some of the other offerings, but it does have in-depth analyses of companies and industries. So Industry Reports are a way that services can differentiate, and can get people to pay for their services. –  MattMcA Mar 11 '13 at 1:13
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Edgar Online is the SEC's reporting repository where public companies post their forms, these forms contain financial data

Stock screeners allow you to compare many companies based on many financial metrics. Many sites have them, Google Finance has one with a decent amount of utility

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Did Edgar Online substituted Moody's Manual? If not, is Moody's manual still being printed? –  Peretz Mar 9 '13 at 19:25
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Here are some approaches you may value:

Wolfram Alpha This is a search engine with a difference. It literally is connected to thousands of searchable databases, including financial databases.

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=list+of+public+companies+

Just keep clicking the "more" button until you have them all.You can also get great company specific information there:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=NYSE%3ADIS&lk=1&a=ClashPrefs_*Financial.NYSE%3ADIS-

Just keep clicking the "more" button until you have them all.Then the company it'self will have great information for investors too:

[http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/investors][3]

(Just keep clicking the "more" button until you have them all.)

Regards, Stephen

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Stephen, thanks for the answer. Wolfram is a nice tool, but it is not the database perse. They need to get the data from somewhere, no? –  Peretz Mar 9 '13 at 19:22
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MattMcA definitely gave you excellent advice and said a lot of what I would say to you. Most databases that are going to give you the most comprehensive information, but in a well formatted way, are going to require subscriptions or a fee. You should try to visit a library, especially one at a university, because they may likely have free access for you. At my alma mater the preferred database among students was LexisNexis Corporate Affiliations. http://www.corporateaffiliations.com/ With this company directory, you get public and private company profiles. You can use Corporate Affiliation’s MergerTrak™ and get full coverage on current and past mergers and acquisitions.

I definitely think this is a business database you should look into. You have nothing to lose seeing as they have a free trial. Just to add, there’s always a business news feed on the homepage. As I just checked now, this one caught my interest: For Marvel Comics, A Renewed Digital Mission.

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protected by littleadv Dec 4 '13 at 7:56

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