BPL 5100: Business Policy

How do I find a company's mission statement?

A mission statement is a company blueprint that defines the core values of the firm. 

Some companies like Bayer and Starbucks have a written mission statement that they post on their website.

If you don't see a link to the mission statement on the company homepage or their "About Us" page, do a Google search that looks for the word "mission" or the word "values" or the word "vision" on the company website.  For example, type this mission site:ibm.com in the Google search box if you are looking for IBM's mission statement.  IBM's mission statement is found in a page that outlines "Our Values at Work."

For an explanation of the difference between a company's mission and vision see this post on Communicating Your Organization’s Mission and Vision.

What is a Business Model ?

Where do I find company histories?

The best place to find company histories is in the International Directory of Company Histories. It is online in the database, Business Insights: Global.

How do I find market share?

Where do I find industry ratios?

The standard source for industry ratios is:
RMA Annual Statement Studies

It includes 16 common ratios along with balance sheet and income statements for over 600 lines of business. Industries are arranged  by NAICS code.

Find it in Reference 2nd Floor HF5681 .B2R6 or use the IBISWorld database.

Where do I Find the 10-K?

Most  public companies provide copies of their SEC filings on the "Investor Relations" pages of their web site. For all filings, current and historical, use the SEC's EDGAR database.

If you are doing financial analysis with SEC reports you might want to use this database- Edgar Online. It offers the ability to:

  • Download the financials to a spreadsheet
  • Access 10 years of historical reports
  • Search the text of the reports
  • Read the company's press releases
  • Compare the financials of one company to up to 4 others
  • Build an interactive stock chart - Mark events like splits, dividends, earnings, and more
  • Follow trends reported in the MD&A and Risk Factors from quarter to quarter
  • Read the SEC's correspondence with the company

Where can I find analysts' reports?

After you have entered the ticker for the Equity you wish to analyze, enter the function code ANR for Analyst Recommendations or the function code BRC for that company's research reports.

Bloomberg is only available in the Subotnick Financial Services Center. 

You might also want to use:

How do I research the supply chain?

Your first step should be to understand how the manufacturing process in your industry operates. This will tell you what "inputs" in raw materials or finished products are used. If your company is a manufacturer, use this online encyclopedia to get started:

Encyclopedia of Products & Industries--Manufacturing - Industry profiles cover materials, supply chain logistics and distribution channels.

For supply chain analysis of public companies, use these databases:

For more information on researching supply chains use our Research Guide to Supply Chain Management.

What are the common "Barriers to entry?"

Michael Porter identified several "barriers to entry" in his Five Forces Model. Factors that affect the ease of entry of new competitors include:

  • Economies of scale
  • Product differentiation
  • Capital requirements
  • Switching costs
  • Access to channels of distribution
  • Government policy

Read more about how to research "Threat of Entry" in the Newman Library guide to  Porter's Five Forces Analysis.

Use one of these databases to get started:

Where can I find R&D expenditures?

Companies typically report their R&D expenditures in their 10-K report.

Corporate-level and Business-level strategy

What are the characteristics of corporate-level and business-level strategy?  Read this article on Strategy Levels from the Encyclopedia of Management, 5th edition, 2006.

Research Tip: Complete your SWOT analysis before you consider possible strategic alternatives for the company.

Business level strategy is sometimes called competitive strategy.  It is the company's overall plan to overcome competitive threats.  Typically there are four choices for the firm: cost leadership, differentiation, or a focused combination of these. (Note: If your company is in several businesses, they will have a business strategy for each.)

Research Tip: For business strategy, ask the question: What is the company's competitive advantage?

Corporate level strategy deals with planning for the entire organization and how the company manages its portfolio of products and businesses. Typically a company has three strategic choices: vertical integration, diversification and divestment.

Research Tip: For corporate strategy, ask the question: How does the company manage its products/businesses for growth?

What is Functional-level Strategy?

Functional-level strategies deal with the how the company designs its organization to contribute to its strategic goals.  Typically, companies can be organized by function, by product or market, by strategic business units, or a combination of these in a matrix structure.

Research Tip: Most companies do not publish an organization chart. Look at the company's annual report or their website for a profile of the management team.

Search S&P NetAdvantage by company to find a list of executives, their titles, and a description of their job functions. The list can be sorted by rank and used to chart the organizational structure.

How do I reseach a company's strategic control system?

Strategic control systems measure company performance using strategic measures rather than financial measures. You want to ask the question: How does the company monitor its performance? Try to identify any standards or benchmarks in place to measure  customer satisfaction, efficiency of internal business processes, or targets for innovation/R&D, and employee development. Use databases like Business Source or ABI/Inform  or Factiva.

How do I resarch a company's financial control systems?

Financial control systems evaluate company performance using financial measures like cash flow, ROE, or sales/income growth. Start with a look at the MD&A section (Item 7) of the company's 10-K report. Companies often report the numbers that they target there.

Also read the transcript of the company's latest Earnings Call. Companies often offer guidance on revenues and earnings but they may also set targets for cash flow, inventory, sales and profit margins. Search the transcript using these terms: guidance, target, expectations or forecasts.

If you are looking for a company's price target, the Standard and Poor's Equity Research Report for the company (in S&P NetAdvantage) includes a price performance chart covering the last five years.