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MCOB Learning Resource Center (LRC) Resources: Industry Research

This guide is to inform and update the Mitchell College of Business students and faculty of the resources and services available in the business learning resource center. [Originally created by Marty Branch, Business Librarian]

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To complete a thorough analysis of an industry, you will need to compile data from a variety of sources from reference books, governmental websites, industry articles and analysis from the library's electronic databases as well as magazines and newspapers.  Each box on this page will guide you through these resources by type.

Many of our information tools use the Standard Industry Classification (SIC) codes that were developed to track data on American industries.  SIC codes have now been replaced by a new classification system, the NAICS (North American Industry Classification System); however, many information tools continue to use SIC codes.

To understand a company and its competition, you will need to understand the industry of which the company is a part.  Finding industry information includes the following steps:

Get an overview of the Industry

Find financial norms on trends to see if you locate forecasts

Gather statistics from government agencies and trade associations

Contact trade associations for additional information about the industry

U.S. Government Resources

The University of South Alabama's Library System is designated as a regional depository for government information.  The Government Document Collection is housed at the Main Library on the second floor across from reference.  Every business student and business person should be fully aware of what the government offers to us at no charge.  I would estimate that 50% of needed data for industry research comes from this source.

This department has created a guide for business people on what sources to use.  Here is a link to that guide:


Your first database to use for newspapers should be ProQuest. In ProQuest, you want to go review the first page and select what options you need and then select "Continue". 

It is on this second page, you will want to review the tabs across the top and select "Advanced Search".  In the first search box, use the pull-down menu and select "Company/Org" and enter a company name.  In the remaining search boxes, use "Citation and Abstract" and enter any additional keywords that will help you narrow your results such as marketing, human resources, strategy, etc. 

If you decide you only want articles from a specific publication such as Wall Street Journal or Barron's, enter the publication title in the form under "More Search Options". 

After the search is complete, review the results and click on "Refine Search" to modify any search terms or click on any of the "Suggested Topic" Links.

Business Magazines

These titles are available in the MCOB Magazine Area:

American Shipper

Business Alabama

Birmingham Business

Event Management Journal

Focus on Retail

Library Databases

In recommended order, here are the databases available to assist you in industry research:

MCOB Industry Research Resource Booklet

This is a booklet that contains recommended resources for industry research.

Library Reference Sources

Here is a listing of recommended reference materials to research industry information:

Almanac of Business and Industrial Ratios [Troy's] (MCOB Reference HF 5681.R25 T68)

Annual Statement Studies:  Financial Ratio Benchmarks [Robert Morris Association] (MCOB Reference HF 5681.B2 R6) - this title is organized according to the North American Classification Systems (NAICS) and contains composite financial data.  Financial Statements on each industry are shown in common size, acccompanied by widely used ratios.  Balance Sheets and Income Statements are shown in common size, with each item a percentage of total assets and sales (or revenues) respectively.

Industry Norms and Key Business Ratios [Dun and Bradstreet] (Main Library Reference HD 2771.D86b) - this source provides the average ratios for an industry arranged by SIC Codes.

Inside U.S. Business (MCOB Reference 106.8.M337)

World Directory of Business Information Sources (MCOB Reference HF54.5.W6675 2010)

Online Resources

These are several recommendations regarding online resources not in the library holdings:


Industry Websites

A few online resources that may assist you in learning more about specific industries.

Trade Associations