Web reviews – Surfing for the business facts.

Want to find some corporate intelligence on your competitors or the companies you do business with?

The information is all out there, you just need to know where to look.

No longer do you have to send someone off to the library for the afternoon, you can find it all on screen thanks to the internet.

Here we look at some good starting points in your quest for information.

‘For the record’ says the website. It’s possible to find basic information for every company registered in the UK, such as name and number, address and date of incorporation.

The site also lets you search for dissolved company names and disqualified directors. For a fee it’s possible to download a company’s report and accounts. Basic, straightforward and easy to navigate, this is a good starting point if you need to check out a particular company – a supplier perhaps – or a rogue director.

There is also extensive guidance on using Company House’s Electronic Filing Service which allows a company to submit statutory documents, a service which will undeniably increase in value as companies become more electronically minded. 8/10

In the US, the SEC has what should be the useful EDGAR facility on line for company information.

EDGAR, or Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system, to give it its full title, aims to ‘increase the efficiency and fairness of the securities market for the benefit of investors, corporations and the economy by accelerating the receipt, acceptance, dissemination and analysis of time sensitive corporate information.’

Rather like combining Companies House and the London Stock Exchange.

As a consequence it is fiendishly complicated, not particularly easy to use and frankly, unless you have a detailed knowledge of the US system, forget it. If you want US company information, go elsewhere. 3/10

This looks like an easy to use company search facility, and so it proved.

The site covers all listed companies with various drill down options for annual reports, advisers and other corporate information. There is also a company news service and share tips. It is necessary to register with the site for more detailed information such as broker reports, but the advantage of doing so include e-mail notifications and access to a wide range of information to help with investment decisions. Easy and quick, certainly worth bookmarking. 7/10

Dun & Bradstreet is a global name and therefore has a global site so it takes a couple of clicks to reach the UK site.

Finding a company is an easy exercise, however getting more information for free is not quite as simple.

Like other financial information sites, registration is necessary before the full Aladdin’s cave of corporate information is made available to the user.

D&B is not giving away its information which makes sense for the business but doesn’t sit so well with the ‘free’ internet. Either way, the information available will add value when analysing a particular company. 7/10

Excuse the language, but this site does what it says on the label.

The ‘dead pool’ is being kept busy at the moment, and has up to date news on that had recently disappeared into the virtual liquidiser.

The libel lawyers are probably crawling all over the site but if you are interested in the rumour mill, this is the place to go. Worth doing a search for your mates who left the security of accountancy for the pot of gold in the new economy. 6/10

The London Stock Exchange’s website packs in a large amount of information which gives it a cluttered feel.

But with information on over 2,500 companies quoted on the Exchange, including over 500 from outside the UK, that is not surprising.

Perhaps the most useful area is the Regulatory News Service (RNS) which publishes all stock exchange announcements.

There are hundreds of announcements to wade through but if you know what you are looking for, the search engine works well.

The bookmarking facility (My Exchange) helps navigation, so you can move around the site quickly to check your portfolio. 7/10

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