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Primark Name Going Up Over Ever Expanding Operation; Disclosure Database Going Down Off DIALOG
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Posted On February 22, 1999
Primark Corporation (http://www.primark.com) has decided to promote its own brand name and relegate the name of some subsidiaries to product status. The new brand name strategy follows the restructuring of 12 business units in Primark into three divisions last June. One of those business units, Disclosure—now part of Primark Financial Information Division—recently failed to reach mutually satisfactory terms with The Dialog Corporation during contract renewal negotiations for the Disclosure U.S. Company database. As a result, Dialog (http://www.dialog.com) has announced the removal of the Disclosure database (File 100). Primark continues to grow with new acquisitions.

Primark as a Brand Name

For the first time, the Primark name will appear at the forefront of all member companies and products. Primark's products have been delivered by 12 individual business units, each with its own strong brand name and market awareness. Primark operates in 61 countries through 80 offices in 21 of those countries. In order to leverage the strength of the entire product line in global markets and communicate the value of component parts to companies and investors, Primark has decided to unite all its operations under a single, master brand—Primark. The step follows on the restructuring announced in June 1998 in which Primark's 12 units were organized into the Financial Analytics Division, Decision Information Division, and Financial Information Division.

Disclosure, Datastream Research, Primark Investment Management Services, and Worldscope will remain individual product lines. Primark Financial Information Division includes Disclosure, Worldscope, and Datastream/ICV. Other products within the corporation will continue to carry their established names, but preceded by the Primark name and logo image. These include Primark/IBES, Primark/Vestek, Primark/Baseline, Primark/WEFA, Primark Decision Economics, and Primark/Yankee Group.

Acquisitions

Primark Corporation continues to expand its acquisitions. It recently announced the purchase of A-T Financial Information (http://www.atfi.com). The boutique investors service carries a collection of outside data, including several sources from Primark. Through an online arrangement with a San Francisco-based, Web-compatible broker called Primary Capital Markets, Inc. (http://www.preferredtrade.com), users of the A-T Financial Information Service can transfer to that broker's site to do online trading. Executives at Primark indicate that they plan to expand into direct support of online trading in the future.

As we prepared this NewsBreak (February 22), Primark announced the acquisition of the company Fundamental Data business and the Extel brand name from the Financial Times Group of Pearson, plc. The Extel Cards provide tearsheet information on international corporations with an emphasis on Europe and Asia-Pacific. Data coverage includes historical company accounts, image-based data, corporate profiles, and company news. According to Joseph Kasputys, Primark's chairman and CEO, they intend to "leverage Extel information across the full range of Primark's product lines to enhance our services going forward. This will be done both by integrating Extel corporate and historical news content with our current products and through adding value to Extel products with our own data and functionality. ... Combining the Extel, Disclosure, and Worldscope databases will provide a level of global company coverage unmatched in the marketplace." Primark also plans to incorporate elements of Extel data into existing and planned real-time information services, like those from A-T Financial Information.

Primark has also acquired the EDGAR Direct service, along with the SEC and Bankruptcy document retrieval services, from the Federal Filings unit of Dow Jones and Company. EDGAR Direct provides real-time delivery of SEC filings and real-time scrolling headlines on SEC activity by all publicly traded companies in the United States. The new acquisitions will operate under Primark Financial Information Division.

The corporation reported full year financial results for 1998 with net income reaching $156.7 million or $6.45 per share. For the full year, the Financial Analytics Division grew by 25.7 percent, the Decision Information Division by 17.9 percent, and the Financial Information Division by 4.5 percent.

Disclosure Database Off Dialog

The Disclosure database was the first major financial and business directory source on DIALOG, as reflected by its early number, File 100. Some searchers viewed its removal from the service in early February as the end of an era. As a 15-year contract came to its end, Disclosure (http://www.disclosure.com) (now Primark Financial Information Division, or PFID) and The Dialog Corporation began negotiations for a 5-year renewal. According to Bill O'Connor, chief operating officer at PFID, Disclosure proposed two alternatives to Dialog—either a minimum payment guarantee for every record used or a broad guarantee of revenue based on past revenue history from the DIALOG service. O'Connor conceded that Dialog would have trouble handling per-record payments, considering their current emphasis on flat-fee subscription contracts with customers. After negotiating over a 6-month period, the two sides could not reach agreement on the guarantee of total revenues.

Primark will continue to offer the Disclosure database directly and through numerous other third-party channels. O'Connor indicated that all the databases created under Primark Financial Information Division, including Disclosure, operate under a twofold business model. "We are a content business first," he said. "We look at the appropriateness of any distribution channel—our own or anyone else's—to find who can add value through hardware, software, or market focus." He also pointed out that they continue to sign up new third-party vendors, having recently added FT, Newsedge, and E*Trade.

The Disclosure U.S. Company database in question synthesizes information from a number of different sources, including multiple EDGAR statements, multiple SEC filings, annual reports (the president's letter), CDA data for ownership, IBES data for earnings, etc. The U.S. Company database exists as part of Primark Financial Information's own Web-based service or on laserdisc or compact disc. Users can also find it on America Online, AnalysisMart, A-T Financial Information, Baseline, Ben Ezra Wienstein & Company, Bridge (formerly ADP/FIS), Bureau Van Dijk, CompuServe, Cross Border Solutions/Ensage, Deloitte & Touche Consulting (Peerscape), Dow Jones Interactive, EBSCO, Harvest Technology, IDD Information Services, LEXIS-NEXIS, MULTEX, NASDAQ On Line, NASDAQ.com, NewsEdge/Desktop Data/Individual Inc/Sandpoint, OCLC, Quote.com, Reuters (Reality Online Inc.), Reuters America (Quotron Systems), USADATA, and Walker Research.

Functionality will vary from system to system. Even when users find the same functionality on alternative systems, they do not enjoy going through the tiresome chores involved in switching systems, learning new protocols, paying new sign-up fees, etc., especially for files they felt comfortable searching on an established vendor. O'Connor stated that Primark was eager to hear from users, particularly those who needed help replacing functionality they had found on DIALOG. When originally launched in 1986, Compact D—a version of the Disclosure U.S. Company database—offered a DIALOG searching mode as an option, but O'Connor agreed that it might not have kept pace with all DIALOG's advances through the years, particularly the Report function. However, Primark will try to help users work out any difficulties.

In the meantime, The Dialog Corporation has begun negotiating with alternative vendors to supply substitute data. Specifically they have targeted MarketGuide Investor (http://www.marketguide.com). This investor boutique service includes research reports on over 12,000 publicly traded companies. The research archive, MarketGuide for Windows, is available only on CD-ROM currently. It includes 550 screening variables and provides a 12-page report on 10,000 companies. Each report includes First Call's earning estimates, 11 years of annual financial statements, institutional ownership, insider trading activity, business description, short interest data, plus company-to-industry and sector and market comparisons. The Web site includes sample reports (http://www.marketguide.com/MGW/MGW-ALL.htm) for users interested in comparing the Disclosure source with its possible replacement.

Other Disclosure/Primark databases remain available on the DIALOG system, including EDGARPlus (Files 773-780), SEC Online (Files 541-544), and Disclosure/Spectrum Ownership (File 540).


Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.


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