Project #3347 - Company Report on Arbitron

budget negotiable!


STEP ONE: The first step of the company assignment is to identify a publicly-traded media or telecommunications company. A list of major media, telecommunications and computer software and hardware firms is provided in a separate file at the class site in ANGEL. You may choose any company from this list on which to do your report. Alternatively, you may choose any other publicly traded media or telecommunications firm that is not included in the list, but only after consulting me.

STEP TWO: Once you have identified a company, collect as much information about it as you can. The following questions are not intended as a complete list, but only as a guide to the sort of information I will expect in your report. You are encouraged to include as much information as you can find on your company.

Your report should be roughly divided into three parts. The first part is descriptive. In this part, answer the following questions.

To what industry does your company belong? How would you describe this industry in terms of the terminology you learned at the beginning of the semester: buyer and seller concentration, barriers to entry, product differentiation etc.?

What is your company’s main line of business? (What products or services does your company sell?)

Where does the company operate? What geographical markets does it cover? What proportion of its total revenues comes from these different markets?

Who are its primary customers? Who are its primary competitors?

What market share does the company control? [Note that the ‘market share’ is NOT the share price of the company in the stock market. It is the percentage of total industry revenues that the company earns by itself – to calculate market share, divide the company’s revenues by total industry revenues and express as a percentage].

Has your company participated in any major mergers/acquisitions in the recent past (within the last three years)?

Are there technological challenges, for example, a new technology that may threaten your industry? Are there regulatory challenges, for example new laws that were recently passed or are proposed to be passed by Congress, or new FCC regulations that might threaten your business?

The second part of your report is analytical. First, you need to find the latest Standard & Poor’s Report for your company. To access this report, do the following:

Go the alphabetical listing of Penn State Library’s Electronic Databases at http:// (the “E-Resources List”).

Scroll down – the databases are listed alphabetically – until you come to Standard & Poor’s NetAdvantage. Click on it and in a few seconds, you will be taken to the Standard & Poor’s Industry Research website.

At the top right hand corner, you will see a window labeled ‘Publication Search’. In the ‘Select Publication’ window, choose “stock report”. Under “Search By” enter either “ticker” if you know your company’s ticker symbol, or else “company name.” The ticker






symbol is a unique three- or four-letter code for every company listed on a stock exchange. The ticker symbols are available in the List of Media and Telecommunications Companies provided in ANGEL. For example, Microsoft is MSFT, Disney is DIS, Time Warner is TWX etc. If you chose a company not on the list and you don’t know the ticker symbol, you can also search by the company’s name. (NOTE: if you choose a company not on this list, you need to consult me to see if it would be appropriate for this assignment).

You can access the Stock report either in HTML or PDF formats. Click on the appropriate link on the left margin of the page. Note too that much of the financial data are available in an Excel file by clicking on “Comparative Co. Analysis” on the left margin.

To answer some of the questions, you may also find the “Industry Report” for your company useful (for example, to find total industry revenue to calculate your company’s market share). To access the Industry Report, follow the same procedure as above, but instead of choosing “stock report” in the “Select Publication” window, choose “Industry Survey.” This Report too is available in HTML or PDF formats.

Using information in the S&P Company Report, answer the following questions.

From the Income Statement Analysis section of the table on page 2, compare the revenues and profits for this company for the last three years. Are these increasing or decreasing?

Calculate the net income margin for each of the last three years. Is it increasing or decreasing? What does this change tell you about the profitability of the company?

How much total debt (long term and current liabilities) does the company have? Has this increased or decreased over the last three years?

Calculate the ratio of total debt to capitalization for each of the last three years. The capitalization is reported in the ‘total cap.’ row of this table. Is this ratio increasing or decreasing over the last three years? What does this tell you about the risks in the company’s business?

With the available information, would you be able to calculate the cash flow margin, return on investment, return on equity, the current ratio and other measures of performance? How have these measures changed over the last three years?

Using a table to present this information is encouraged. You may want to put ‘years’ in the columns, and the ‘ratios’ you have calculated in the rows.

The third part of your report is evaluative. Based upon all the information you have collected and analyzed, how do you rate the business prospects of the company in the next few years? You need to go beyond a mere recitation of facts in this section, toward a more analytical or evaluative approach to the data you have collected.

STEP THREE: The third step is writing up your report. Note that in the case of most publicly traded companies, information will be plentiful. We will be looking for how carefully you have analyzed the information, and how well you have incorporated it into a comprehensive understanding of your company and the industry in which it functions. There will be little credit given for simply reproducing the data you have collected online, with no effort to engage with the information.

Once you have compiled all the information you need, the next step is to write the report. Please keep in mind the following guidelines:

The report must be a minimum of 5 pages, double-spaced in Times 12 pt. font.

There should be a minimum of TEN different sources of information for your paper. This is only a minimum requirement. You are encouraged to go beyond this requirement, and try to find as much information on your company as possible. You are also encouraged to


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find a wide variety of information sources (not just web-sites): a high-scoring report will include references to newspaper and magazine articles, books, websites, SEC filings, trade publications etc. Check the news databases mentioned above for locating magazine, newspaper and trade sources. Multiple web-pages from the same website will count as one source.

Remember to cite your sources using any commonly accepted citation system: APA, MLA, or Chicago Manual. As mentioned above, you must locate at least ten sources for your company. Citations must be provided in text, as well as in a reference list at the end of the document.

Please note the due date for the company report. Late submissions will be subject to the late policy as announced in the syllabus.

Points will be primarily awarded on the basis of the information content of your report. The assignment you turn in should show clear evidence of the research you have done into the company and the industry.

Presentation too is very important. Bad spelling and poor grammar indicate not just lack of effort, but also a casual attitude toward the assignment. Please make full use of the spell-checking utilities available with most word processing packages.

Finally, upload your company report in ANGEL, under the drop-box under the Lessons tab before 5 pm on the due date.


You already know how to access the Standard & Poor’s Company Reports for your company. There are lots of other sources of company and industry information available in the Penn State Library system. A very good starting point is the Tutorial on “Locating Company Information” available from the Penn State Business Libraries.


A very comprehensive source of company information is the web-site of the Securities and Exchanges Commission, the federal agency that maintains financial records for all public companies. ( You may want to look up the searchable EDGAR database on this web-site. EDGAR allows you to search by company name.

Go to the web-site, and click on the button which says ‘Filings and Forms (EDGAR)’ (close to the bottom on the left side).

You may then click on ‘Search for Company Filings’ in the list. This will take you to another page which says ‘Search the EDGAD Database.’

Click on 'Search Companies and Filings' under 'General Purpose Searches'. This will take you to a page where you can enter the name of your company to search for its filings.

Enter the name or stock symbol of the company.

What you need to locate is the Annual 10-K report for the company for the most recent financial period. This contains a lot of the information you will need including the financial documents we discussed in class (balance sheet etc.)

You may also want to look up company information on newspaper and magazine article indexes such as ABI-Inform and LEXIS-NEXIS, linked to the Penn State Libraries home page at:

Many sources are available on the web too for data on publicly traded companies:


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3 (click on ‘stocks’ on the menu bar at the top) A NOTE ON PLAGIARISM

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly and creative activity in an open, honest and responsible manner, free from fraud and deception, and is an educational objective of the College of Communications and the university. Cheating, including plagiarism, falsification of research data, using the same assignment for more than one class, turning in someone else's work, or passively allowing others to copy your work, will result in academic penalties at the discretion of the instructor, and may result in the grade of "XF' (failed for academic dishonesty) being put on your permanent transcript. In serious cases it could also result in suspension or dismissal from the university. As students studying communication, you should understand and avoid plagiarism (presenting the work of others as your own). A discussion of plagiarism, with examples, can be found at:

Rules and policies regarding academic integrity should be reviewed by every student, and can be found online at: and in the College of Communications document, “Academic Integrity Policy and Procedures.” Any student with a question about academic integrity or plagiarism is strongly encouraged to discuss it with his or her instructor.

I recommend that you review an instructional module on what constitutes plagiarism available at:



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Due By (Pacific Time) 03/19/2013 07:00 pm
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