Extras – Hoover’s Online: Affordable, Accurate, Company Information

Nina Platt is a Librarian at the Minnesota Office of the Attorney General. She also worked as Manager of Technical Services at the Dorsey & Whitney Law Firm in Minneapolis. To date, she has spent 14 years in law libraries. Nina also compiled and maintains the Piper State Court Directory, a directory of state appellate court decisions on the Web.

(Archived September 1, 1997)

As the Web/Internet grows in the number of users logging on for business resources, the number of business resources on the net continue to grow as well. Hoover’s Online, owned by Hoover’s Inc. of Austin, Texas is one of the resources business researchers are discovering.

Hoovers was established as The Reference Press in 1990 by Gary Hoover, who was convinced that there was a need for a directory that provided in-depth information on business. The first publication was called “Hoover’s Handbook 1991: Profiles of Over 500 Major Corporations.” As years passed additional titles were offered, and eventually in 1995, a CD-ROM product containing the company profiles was marketed. That same year a Web based product was also introduced called Hoover’s Online.

Hoover’s Online provides a variety of services to both subscribers and non-subscribers. A non-subscriber can go to the Hoover’s site and search on a portion of the data available called Company Capsules. Company Capsules provides more than 11,000 of the largest public and private companies worldwide. “Each capsule includes a description of the company, address, officers, sales and employment figures, and hyperlinks to more information, like financial reports, stock quotes, SEC filings, and news searches.” Some of the additional information provided can only be obtained by subscribers.1 Searches can be done by company name, ticker symbol, location, industry or sales.

Subscribers can proceed to the other services offered (e.g., Hoover’s Company Profiles.) Hoover’s Company Profiles provide information on more than 2,700 public and private companies worldwide. The profiles provided include a description of the company, its history, officers, address, phone and fax numbers, Web site address, products and services, competitors and financials. Searches can be done by company name only.

The financials generally cover sales, net income, income as a percent of sales, earnings per share, fiscal year stock price, price/earnings ratio, dividends per share, book value per share, and employees. Historical financials are also available to subscribers. Additionally, links are provided to allow users to move to Latest Quarterly Financials (on the Hoover’s site), EDGAR Online SEC Filings (Securities & Exchange Commission site that provides access to 10Ks and other public company documents), Get a DBC Quote (Data Broadcasting Stock Quotes) and StockMaster Stock Chart (a separate web site that offers stock quotes).

Each company profiled is chosen because of size, growth, and visibility. An attempt is made to cover as many industries as possible. The profile is updated annually at each companies year end. Information for the profile is obtained directly from each company, from annual reports, and from news sources. Most of the financial information is provided by Media General Financial Services, Inc.

In addition to the information listed above, Hoover’s Online also provides links to many other valuable sites including:

Corporate Web Sites
User types in company name and gets Web address.
Business Tools to Build Your Bottom Line
Catalog of other Hoover’s Inc. products and services (including the handbooks that contain the company profiles in print and CD-ROM format) with prices and order information (including an on-line order form).
Cyberstocks: The Smart Investor’s Guide to Internet Companies (a Hoover company)
A site that provides company profiles, financials, etc. for Internet companies only. (Subscription required.)
Hoover’s Earnings Central
A site that provides access to the latest quarterly earnings information by company name, ticker symbol, or industry for 7,700+ companies.
IPO Central
A site that provides access to initial public offering information by industry, underwriter, state or metro area. (Subscription required.)
Provides the ability to search by performance criteria (financial ratios, company size, growth rates, margins, rates of return, etc.) to access stock information on 7500+ companies.
Personal Stock Portfolio
Create or check your personal stock portfolio.

Subscriptions to Hoover’s Online are available in several forms:

Individual subscriptions $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year.
Corporate or Enterprise subscriptions The fee is based on the number of employees who will have access to the service. It includes a 20% discount for book purchases from Hoovers, Inc.
Library subscriptions The fee is based on the number of computers used within the library to access the service: One computer – $485.00/year, two computers – $545.00/year, three computers – $595.00/year, four computers – $635.00/year, five computers – $665.00, and additional computers $30.00/year each.
Academic subscriptions The fee is based on the number of students and faculty who will have access to the service: 2/10 users — $500.00/year, 11-250 users – $1250.00/year, 251 to 1000 users — $2,500/year, and over 1000 users — $5,000.00/year.

Before subscribing, potential Hoover’s Online users can view a list of companies profiled, sample company profiles, sample historical financials, frequently asked questions and answers, and subscription policies. The site also provides excerpts from periodicals and newspapers (on-line and in print) where reviews of Hoover’s Online have been published.

The first time user who is familiar with Netscape (or any other web browser if the site is accessed outside of the library) will find that searching and displaying information in Hoover’s Online is a simple task. The opening screen or “homepage” provides an uncluttered and pleasing box of choices of links, providing access to the pages and sites listed above. In the center of various choices, the users’ eye is drawn to a box that says “Search for Company Information.”

If he chooses it, he will be presented with a page that allows him to perform all searches available at the site. A note telling whether the searches are free or “for subscriber use only” is prominently displayed next to each search box. Organizational subscriptions can be set up to provide access to this information so the user does not have to know the user id and password. Individual subscriptions are set up to prompt the user for id and password before allowing them to proceed with the search.

Users can also choose other links on the “homepage.” All links are clearly labeled allowing the user to know the type of information he will find if proceeding to any of the other pages or sites. Scrolling down the page, the user will find search boxes to use in performing simple searches on the free Company Capsules database and the other helpful links mentioned in this paper.

Upon searching, the user will get a list of results in alphabetical order by company name. He selects the company by clicking on the name with the mouse. At that point he will get a display of information which will vary depending on the type of information (profiles, capsules, etc.) he selects.

Overall, Hoover’s Online is an excellent resource for business researchers. A recent article in Database reports it provides “core financial and operating information on important public and private U.S. and foreign companies, at a fraction of the cost for comparable data on the professional services.”2 With the easy to use interface, low costs and timely complete data, it is indeed a resource worth reviewing.

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  1. One of the news searches is done using Infoseek, producing false hits.
  2. O’Leary, Mick. “Hoover’s leads in low-cost company information.” database, June/July 1996, pp. 92-94.
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