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Bureau van Dijk Premieres New Product at InfoToday 2001
by
Posted On June 4, 2001
At the recent InfoToday 2001 conference in New York, Bureau van Dijk Electronic Publishing (http://www.bvdny.com) provided the first glimpse of its new product, OSIRIS, billed as a fully integrated public-company database and analytical information solution. The OSIRIS database covers over 90 countries and includes 22,000 publicly listed companies (8,000 in the U.S.), 1,400 banks, and 200 insurance companies.

According to Bureau van Dijk, the product is aimed at companies that routinely have a need for the following applications: corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, investment portfolio management, equity research, and competitive intelligence. It's also viewed as a tool for the academic community.

The information in OSIRIS is pulled from several sources and then integrated to provide a one-stop shop for international public-company research. Corporation information is delivered by World'Vest Base, which compiles its data from direct company contacts and annual reports. Bank information is provided by Fitch, which sources its data from annual reports, and Thomson Financial Insurance Solutions fills in the insurance information, which is gathered from annual financial statements. Other companies contributing to the OSIRIS database are Reuters News, Standard & Poor's, Moody's, JCF International, Bridge Information Systems, and Bureau van Dijk itself.

The database has both easy and advanced search options and may be searched by numerous criteria. The data in OSIRIS include income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements and ratios, news, ownership, subsidiaries, rankings, earning estimates, and stock data. Currently, only 6,800 companies contain ownership and/or subsidiary information, but it appears that more will follow. News information, provided by Reuters News, contains a 2-month history of headlines and articles; users also have the option of setting up alerts so that the news is pushed to them. Unfortunately, there is an additional cost as the news portion is not part of the basic OSIRIS subscription.

Bureau van Dijk's other databases (FAME, amadeus, BankScope, ISIS, and more) are well-known for the detail offered and their charting and graphing capabilities. It appears that OSIRIS will follow that same path, making it very useful. (I wasn't able to give OSIRIS a test drive, as the Internet version is not yet available, so I'm unable to speak as an actual user.) As part of the database's analysis functionality, OSIRIS does offer graphing, along with peer and statistical analysis and company rankings sorted by user-defined variables. This information can also be directly integrated with Excel or Access.

An interesting aspect of OSIRIS is the Presenter Function. With this, the user can create presentation templates with graphs, financial data, and personal comments. It's unclear, however, whether the Presenter Function is part of the basic subscription or if it's an optional add-on.

The documentation for OSIRIS is extremely useful, which is surprising to find these days. Definitions and descriptions are provided for almost everything imaginable, including the various types of credit ratings; bank deposit ratings; bank and insurance financial strength; issuer credit ratings; foreign currency risks; and industrial, bank, and insurance company ratios. There are also definitions of general financial terms from accounts payable to unusual/exceptional expenses.

Computer requirements for using OSIRIS are an IBM-compatible PC; a 100 MHz or higher processor; Windows 95, 98, 2000, or NT; 32 MB of hard-disk space; and for the Internet product, either the Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape browser.

At this time, OSIRIS is only available on CD-ROM, which will be updated 12 times a year. The Internet version will not be available until at least December. Once that version is accessible, it will be updated on a weekly basis. Bureau van Dijk is currently offering 30-day free trials of the CD-ROM product. Pricing information is not currently available.

If OSIRIS turns out to be as good as Bureau van Dijk's other products, it will be helpful to those who frequently research public companies, banks, and insurance companies on a global basis. The ability to pull all of this information from one database and have the capability to see graphs, tables, charts, and presentations, and then slice and dice the data to the user's own parameters is attractive. However, I would venture a guess that the price tag will be a hefty one, putting it out of the running for many potential users. Once OSIRIS really hits the ground running and is able to prove itself, I think it will have great appeal for large corporations with equally large research budgets. The rest of us will continue to hop from one source to another in order to compile comparable data.

One last note of interest: According to Sara Hale in Bureau van Dijk's New York office, OSIRIS is not an acronym for anything, as are the names of many of their other products.


Sheri R. Lanza is a business research specialist and editor of The CyberSkeptic's Guide to Internet Research.

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