Today we want to call out a feature of our databases that financial analysts might like to use as a quick, easy way to find segment information in the companies you follow.

Start with our Company-in-Detail database, where you can (wait for it…) delve deeply into the financial data of specific companies. Enter the name or ticker of whatever company you want to follow; for our purposes here, we’ll use Google. Then look to the row of tabbing options above the financial data, for an option called “Segments.” (See Figure 1, below.)

That will take you to a pull-down option, where you can review all the types of segment data we have available. Scroll down to whatever specific segment report you want. In our Google example, we selected the very first: “Operating Segment: Revenue.” That brings you to Figure 2, below.

We’re looking at how Google breaks out revenue across its various operating segments (mostly advertising revenue from direct search, Google websites, and other parts of the Google empire), broken out either by year in the 2000s or by quarters in the 2010s. Where Google reported no revenue in a particular period, that “square” is left blank.

Now comes the really cool stuff. Notice way over in the upper left corner of this table, we have a pull-down menu set by default to “Table.” (Circled in Blue, in Figure 2.) Click on that menu and change the setting to “Heat Map.” Go ahead, we’ll wait.

Wow, right?

What you see is something like Figure 3, below.

The heat map shades the numbers in all cells of the table by degrees of red: smaller amounts in pink, larger amount in progressively darker shades of red. The largest amounts are a deep, eye-catching red.

That lets you answer, in a quick, visual way, “When and how did Company X get the most revenue from this particular segment? When did it get the least?” It’s right there in red.

Alternatively, you can set that pull-down menu to “Col Heatmap,” which narrows the field: you see which segments were the largest and smallest for the company within a given period. (How did Company X get the most revenue within any given year?”)

Or you can set the pull-down menu to “Row Heatmap” to look at amounts across one horizontal row, and find the largest amount across multiple periods. (“When did this specific operating segment get the largest or smallest amount of revenue?”)

You can play around with other menu options from there. For example, rather than look at dollar amounts, you could measure “count”— the number of instances where the company reported revenue for a particular segment. (That might be useful if you want to know whether Company X reported that segment every quarter; or just three quarters in one year, but four quarters in the next, and one quarter the year after that.)

You can also compare disclosures as percentages of a grand total, an average, or numerous other configurations. Play around, and see what works best for you.

One caveat: where a company has not reported segment revenue in a certain way, our databases will return a “No Data Found” warning. For example, Google doesn’t track assets by operating segment. Likewise, if the numbers the company reports can’t be expressed in one of our pull-down menu options, you get a blank result.

Ultimately, you’ll get the most use from this feature when you search for exactly what you want, from exactly the company you want; it’s an enormously versatile tool. And for the most thorough look at segment information (or for segment data aggregated from multiple companies), be sure to use our Segments, Rollforwards, and Breakouts database.

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