Posts Tagged ‘Company Information’

New and improved Jigsaw

December 15, 2008

Its hard to keep up with all the company information sites.  Typically, they provide useful free information and require payment for the valuable corporate nuggets, particularly contact information.  Hoovers is the gold standard and made its reputation with their humorous but sometime banal business summaries.   I like Manta because they provide revenue data for free.  Jigsaw is another one and they’ve just added a tab called “research” which appears to collect web-based information from blogs and social media sites like Facebook and Flicker as well as Google news.  Its useful and easy-to-use.

The thing to remember is there is no one-stop shop for real research.  If you want very basic information, its fine to check out of any of these sites or the company website but if you really want the scoop, you need to look at everything you can in the time you have available.

Sunday Special: Learning about a company through lawsuits

November 23, 2008

I’ve talked about using SEC reports, specifically 10-Ks and 10-Qs as guides to understanding a company’s litigation profile.  What kinds of suits?  How big a deal are they?

Today I’m focusing on what this litigation says about the company itself.   Numbers may tell stories about profits and successes and the website and news generally tell you what the company wants you to know  but lawsuits against a company tell you what they DON’T want you to know.

Here are four things to think about when looking at a company’s legal proceedings:

o   Does the company carry litigation costs associated with asbestos claims or other large scale mass tort actions?

 

o   Are they hit with lots of class action claims based on faulty products and/or services?

 

o   Are they subject to lots of suits claiming shoddy or unfair business practices?

 

o   Have they been subjected to significant securities litigation because shareholders are claiming the company knew about material facts that depressed their stock price and failed to disclose them?

Sunday Special: Learning from Lawsuits

November 16, 2008

I write a lot about recently filed lawsuits, mostly class actions focused on bad business practices.  I think lawsuits are a window into a company, a relunctantly revealed window and sometimes distorted or even inaccurate view on how a company operates.  Here are four things to consider about a sued company when reading the complaint.

*Actual corporate name: many businesses don’t want you to know their product line or their doing business name.  It useful to peel that away and understand that what you thought was a mom and pop provider of lemonade is actually a conglomerate, selling insurance or tanks as well as the product you love so much.

*State of incorporation: maybe you’ve had a problem with the company too and if you know the state where the company is incorporated you can search that state’s secretary of state records and find out who the contact is to sue.

*Product or service in question: maybe you were thinking about buying a washing machine from this company and the complaint tells you that they’ve blown up in customer kitchens and that the company has claimed it was the customer’s fault.  That might make you think twice from buying that brand.

*Who else got sued: In product cases, its common for plaintiffs to sue competitors, component part manufacturers, whole-sellers, distributors and retailers.  Just by reading the defendant names and how they are connected in the manufacturer, distribution and sales of a product, you can understand very quickly the inter-relationships between key players and have gather critical industry intel in a couple minutes.

Dear Jim Letter

October 19, 2008

The new President & CEO of Costco got an employment letter (thanks footnoted.org) that has all the personality of the ones any of us could have received from a new employer except for some extra zeros.  And even those weren’t that impressive; $350,000 annual salary?  Yes, possible bonus of $200,000 and stock deals to boot but still, it doesn’t seem that impressive.  I hope this starts a trend.  Transparency and relative parity.  We need to get back to a place where people are well-rewarded for risks but not extravagantly so.  There has to be more incentive to a job well-done than the money to buy third or fourth homes and the rest.  CEOs should be part of the team not above it.  I think everone benefits from that approach.