Basic information on financial databases: cook books, tips and tricks & economic news

This blog contains schematic easy to grasp - hands on - help in performing searches in economic databases, making work sets and making them inter-exchangeable between the databases.

* Disclaimer. I am not a finance professional. Most posts are the result of personal findings.

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WRDS + Compustat: menu, general search methods, output

* September 9th 2014 * This is an update from a much older post. In the meanwhile changes in interface and content have taken place. I'll attempt to adjust everything that applies.

Wharton is available through the Wharton portal.
Select the desired part of Compustat:
Anything not listed under the header Current Subscriptions will not be accessible.
This may vary by institution.
Mouse over provides some information on the database 

Select North America (click)
The next screen gives some news on the changes in the database. On the left hand side of the screen are three sections making up the database: quarterly updates, annual updates and FTP (legacy) version (= historic data)
Select Fundamentals Annual

For explantions and more insight in the database:

Documentation provides explanation on the necessary codes.
Data manuals: handy for deeper insight in the database.
The steps needed to create your datalist.

Step 1, date range

Search by: TIC, GVKEY,CIK, NAICS, SIC, CUSIP. (explanation online manual)

CIK: The Central Index Key (CIK) is used on the SEC's computer systems to identify corporations and individual people who have filed disclosure with the SEC.
NAICS: The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is a 6-digit coding system for classifying establishments on a production/process-oriented basis. This item contains the NAICS code assigned to the company. The NAICS can consist of diffrent number combinations

SIC: This item represents the code identifying the line of business best representative of the company as a whole after the corporate action. It consists of a four-digit numeric code. Standard Industrial Classification codes are published by the United States' Office of Management and Budget in their 1987 edition of the Standard Industrial Classification Manual.
CUSIP: This item is a unique identifier for each company on COMPUSTAT®. It is a nine-digit code: the first six digits identify the issuer, the seventh and eighth digit identify the issue, and the ninth digit is the check digit. (For further information, contact the CUSIP Service Bureau, 25 Broadway, New York, NY 10004)
TIC: This item identifies the symbol associated with trading of a particular issue on an exchange.
GVKEY: This item identifies the unique identifier and primary key for the company after the corporate action, i.e., the GVKEY of the acquiring company

Important note: in a search it is necessary to involve all code combinations in your search. You can do this by putting them in your search field divided by SPACE or as a text file, which each code on a new line
Important Note:
It can be hard to find the proper code. 

WRDS has got a  (press link) in its top bar in which you can find the codes by e.g. company name.
The link can be found at the left hand side of the menu screen. 

Method one (single company search)
In this example we'll use the SaraLee Corp. GVKEY: 009411

Next, set your preferences. When uncertain, you can press the links for an explantion.
Method three searches the entire database (later)


Industry format determines which sector you want to search, industrials (anything but banks and insurance companies) or financials (banks) By default the Financials option is de-selected. Check it when working with large work sets.

Conditional statements can only be used when searching the entire database (not this example)

Step 3, variables
There are a lot of selectable variables. If you don't know what they mean you can consult the question mark behind the item ? But in mnay cases it's not present. You can also use the manuals (see top of the screen) Manuals and overviews > Compustat Online manual (expressfeed) can be reached from this page

The variables page works like a web page. Searching through all items (often with slide bars)  can be done with CTRL-F. A simple search box appears. Word order is mandatory.
Try looking up Total assets and how it is presented on the page: AT -- Assets - Total
A list with abbreviations of all downloadable  data can be found under the link Variable descriptions
 (top of menu screen)

Step 4, output

There is a lot of software output options. The downside is that interexchangeability is flawed.
Best and safest bets are using either  fixed-width text (*.txt); or

The up side is that there is no hidden software coding demanding conversions of the output file with the risk of losing data or rendering them useless.

and provides a clickable TXT.
Right-click the link and save the file Save link as

Opening the link will prompt a web page which is useless.

The next link (click) will explain how to handle your saved file.

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