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Finance Research

This guide provides databases and resources for finance and finance related topics.

Important Terms

This guide will provide a list of relevant databases and other resources for researching Finance and related Finance topics. Current Olin students, faculty and staff have access to restricted library internet resources. View Remote Access for more information.


Companies produce a number of reports, statements, filings, and other documents that provide financial information. The documents are reviewed and analyzed by investors, management, lenders, and others interested in the financial stability or profitability of the company. Definitions for the following financial terms are taken from Investopedia.

Balance Sheet - A balance sheet is a financial statement that reports a company's assets, liabilities and shareholders' equity at a specific point in time, and provides a basis for computing rates of return and evaluating its capital structure. It is a financial statement that provides a snapshot of what a company owns and owes, as well as the amount invested by shareholders. The balance sheet is used with other financial statements such as the income statement and statement of cash flows in conducting fundamental analysis or calculating financial ratios.

Income Statement - An income statement is one of the three important financial statements used for reporting a company's financial performance over a specific accounting period, with the other two key statements being the balance sheet and the statement of cash flows. Also known as the profit and loss statement or the statement of revenue and expense, the income statement primarily focuses on the company’s revenues and expenses during a particular period.

Cash Flow Statement - A cash flow statement is a financial statement that provides aggregate data regarding all cash inflows a company receives from its ongoing operations and external investment sources. It also includes all cash outflows that pay for business activities and investments during a given period. 

A company's financial statements offer investors and analysts a portrait of all the transactions that go through the business, where every transaction contributes to its success. The cash flow statement is believed to be the most intuitive of all the financial statements because it follows the cash made by the business in three main ways—through operations, investment, and financing. The sum of these three segments is called net cash flow. These three different sections of the cash flow statement can help investors determine the value of a company's stock or the company as a whole.

Annual Report to Shareholders - An annual report is a publication that public corporations must provide annually to shareholders to describe their operations and financial conditions. The front part of the report often contains an impressive combination of graphics, photos, and an accompanying narrative, all of which chronicle the company's activities over the past year. The back part of the report contains detailed financial and operational information. Typically, an annual report will contain the following sections:

  • General corporate information
  • Operating and financial highlights
  • Letter to the shareholders from the CEO
  • Narrative text, graphics, and photos
  • Management's discussion and analysis (MD&A)
  • Financial statements, including the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement
  • Notes to the financial statements
  • Auditor's report
  • Summary of financial data
  • Accounting policies

 

10-K - A 10-K is a comprehensive report filed annually by a publicly-traded company about its financial performance and is required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The report contains much more detail than a company's annual report, which is sent to its shareholders before an annual meeting to elect company directors.

Some of the information a company is required to document in the 10-K includes its history, organizational structure, financial statements, earnings per share, subsidiaries, executive compensation, and any other relevant data. The SEC requires this report to keep investors aware of a company's financial condition and to allow them to have enough information before they buy or sell shares in the corporation, or before investing in the firm’s corporate bonds. 10-Ks can also be retrieved by using the company search function through the SEC's EDGAR database.

The 10-K includes five distinct sections:

  • Business. This provides an overview of the company’s main operations, including its products and services (i.e., how it makes money).
  • Risk factors. These outline any and all risks the company faces or may face in the future. The risks are typically listed in order of importance.
  • Selected financial data. This section details specific financial information about the company over the last five years. This section presents more of a near-term view of the company’s recent performance.
  • Management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations. Also known as MD&A, this gives the company an opportunity to explain its business results from the previous fiscal year. This section is where the company can tell its story in its own words.
  • Financial statements and supplementary data. This includes the company’s audited financial statements including the income statement, balance sheets, and statement of cash flows. A letter from the company’s independent auditor certifying the scope of their review is also included in this section.

A 10-K filing also includes signed letters from the company’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer. In it, the executives swear under oath that the information included in the 10-K is accurate. This is required per the Sarbaes Oxley Act of 2002). These letters became a requirement after several high-profile cases involving accounting fraud following the dot-com bust.

Proxy Statement (14-A) - A proxy statement is a document containing the information the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires companies to provide to shareholders so they can make informed decisions about matters that will be brought up at an annual or special stockholder meeting. Issues covered in a proxy statement can include proposals for new additions to the board of directors, information on directors' salaries, information on bonus and options plans for directors, and any declarations made by the company's management.