Government agencies, consulting firms and news services provide analysis for industry research. These sources can provide anywhere from extensive quantitative information to narratives on trends and changes in an industry. Most information is available for viewing or downloading online, and while a subscription fee might apply in some cases, there is still general, topline data available at no charge.
Government agencies that oversee an industry can provide credible data. Since they act as a regulatory body, they have access to large amounts of data that the public might not otherwise review. Data released from public agencies will be helpful for those looking for broad, sectorwide (health, auto, banking) information for a specific country. The drawback to government research is that it is not released and conducted on the same, quick timetable as a news service or private research firms.
Bloomberg is a financial software and financial information provider. The Bloomberg Terminal is a computer system that provides market data and trades to financial professionals involved in stock exchanges and trading. A subscription is required for for it. Bloomberg also provides market data and financial news on its website and cable television channel.
Standard & Poor's
Standard & Poor's is a McGraw-Hill company that provides financial research by analyzing stocks and bonds. The company releases annual industry surveys and industry reports from more than 50 main sectors. These reports give information on the current economic environment, industry profiles and trends and key statistics and conclude with a comparative company analysis of key players in an industry. Reports from Standard and Poor's are comprehensive in scope and provide analysis in addition to investment information. Reports and surveys are available for download on the Standard & Poor's website and the cost is roughly $700 per industry report.
Factiva is a Dow Jones research product that provides industry data and company overviews along with access to a database of more than 14,000 newspapers and magazines internationally. It essentially integrates the news sources of a service like LexisNexis with the industry and company profiles of Hoover's. Factiva is the right tool when looking at the media coverage of an industry or company. An annual subscription is required to access Factiva and additional charges may apply to download content.
Moody's Investor Services/Moody's Analytics
Moody's Analytics is an independent subsidiary of Moody's Investor Services. The analytics arm of the company compiles and releases economic analysis, investment information and credit forecasting. Similiar to Bloomberg, Moody's can provide statistical information for investors and is credible particularly in the banking and investment world.
In order to access full reports, a subscription is needed to the Moody's research site, Economy.com. The cost is pretty steep (more than $10,000) but there is a complimentary subscription available for general information. Moody's also publishes industry reports that can be downloaded from their online store (for a fee).
Hoover's is a website that provides business/industry research on more than 33 million companies. The company employs a staff of writers and industry experts that update company/industry profiles on a consistent basis. Company fact sheets include the latest list of company executives, SEC filings, company data and an accurate overview of the organization's history.
While a lot of this information could be pieced together from an extensive Google search, it's much more convenient to have it all in one place. A subscription to Hoover's can be pricey, close to $5,000 annually, but there is some free content available without a subscription.
Reports from Consultants/Market Research
Many consulting firms (Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, McKinsey & Co, PriceWaterhouseCoopers) release industry reports based on projects they've researched and companies they've surveyed, so there is quantitative and qualitative information provided. These are good resources for spotting industry trends or understanding nuances specific to an industry.