Bloomberg is synonymous with investment information in many corners of the finance world. According to its guide, "Bloomberg L.P. is a financial news service that provides financial news and data to companies and organizations in virtually every country in the world. Business professionals can monitor and analyze real-time financial market data, as well as place trades and review historical trading data." So not only does it have a news and media outlet, but also a software/hardware system that most, if not all, professional money managers use.
The Bloomberg terminal is both a hardware and software system. It includes the Bloomberg Keyboard which has special color coded keys. The color coding is as follows:
- Red keys=Stop functions
- Green keys=Action functions
- Yellow keys=correspond to different market sectors
How to Use Bloomberg Terminal
The market sectors toggled to using the yellow keys include:
|LAW||F1||Global law and regulation, litigation, legal analysis, news, etc.|
|GOVT||F2||Securities issued by national governments and securities by quasi-governmental agencies|
|MTGE||F4||Mortgage market instruments|
|M-MKT||F5||Money market securities|
|MUNI||F6||U.S. Municipal bonds|
|EQUITY||F8||Common stocks, American Depository Receipts (ADRs), mutual funds, rights, options, warrants|
|CMDTY||F9||Commodities & associated futures and options|
|INDEX||F10||Equity indices and economic indices|
|CLIENT||F12||Portfolio & Risk Management|
Any and all historical or current information related to these market sectors is available through this system and because of the breadth and depth of availability, targeting in on specific functions and information that is useful can make the Terminal less overwhelming. There is so much information contained in the system and innumerable capabilities. technical and fundamental graphs of all types like money flows and margin trends, data comparing companies to each other or indices, and company specific information related to every part of the capital structure is available here. However, in an attempt to dwindle down the tremendous information base into available functions that are typically used everyday, we compiled a list of five key categories.
1. News- Type "N" then <GO> for general news or to access the top business or general headlines, type TOP<GO>. The screen will appear with a toolbar at the top, a command line where new commands can be typed below the toolbar , the main or function area which contains the information sought and an information panel at the bottom.
2. Company Information- In the EQUITY function (F8), a command can be entered to locate a description of the company, its price or trade data (current and historical), news, graphs, corporate structure, valuation, credit ratings, capital structure, comparison companies, and regulatory filings. There is also the ability to review analyst recommendations, earnings estimates and bond information.
For example, to look up a company's earnings estimates, click the ticker symbol, then EQUITY-->EE<GO>
3. M&A Data- Deal data and specifics can be found using the MA<GO> function. If looking for a specific company, type the company name in the "Company Search" box at the top. The output provides all the terms of the deals.
4. Investment Screening- to build a list of securities that meet specified criteria, type EQS<GO>. From here a list of criteria can be selected with specified parameters. Available criteria are listed under categories related to exchanges, sectors, indices, domicile, descriptions, geography and fundamental characteristics. An output of results will be generated and these results can be changed by selecting Edit Criteria. This output, like many outputs in Bloomberg, can also be exported to Excel.
5. Industries- to analyze industries from a top down perspective, type BI<GO>. Everything from high level news, industry primers, earnings and valuations to more specific data can be found here.
How to Get Bloomberg-like Data without Bloomberg
The Bloomberg terminal is a costly system and primarily available to professional investors. Sometimes terminals can be found in libraries, particularly university libraries, but for the most part individual investors do not have access to it. However, there are publically available substitutes that can provide similar data, although the depth and breadth may be lacking as well as the functionality, requiring individuals to put together their own mosaic of information. For example, financial news can be found on many financial websites. Company information can be lcoated via the SEC Edgar system for regulatory filings or company websites. Investment screening can be accomplished using websites like finviz.com or msn.com. M&A information and industry data are a bit more complex to locate. Some deal data can be found on free sites like http://www.mandaportal.com/, but most require a subscription fee. Industry data, in a similar fashion, does not have one site which offers information but there are reports by independent analysts which can be purchased.
The Bottom Line
Bloomberg is an invaluable tool for investors primarily because it provides data in one place and allows users to configure the data in various ways to analyze and review trends, compare to other companies and industries and most importantly to follow a historical path so that analysis of an investment can be detailed and all encompassing.