In Finance, what are Research Notes?

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  • Written By: John Lister
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2020
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Research notes are statements or documents issued by a research firm to its clients. The notes are designed to give them insight into an industry, often with "exclusive" details that will help them decide how to invest their money. Most research notes from major firms wind up reported by the media.

The general principle of research notes is to give details that clients might not know. In some cases, this is because the details are based on fresh information obtained from sources. In other cases, this is because the clients will not be following the industry closely. Some clients will pay extremely high fees to receive research notes from companies.

The type of information in research notes can vary widely. Sometimes it is based on confidential information. For example, a research firm might have contacts in a company that makes the glass used in portable media players. If the firm discovers there is a shortage of the glass used in an upcoming model, it may deduce that the release of that model might be delayed. This could in turn make the release too late for people to buy the media player as a Christmas gift. The firm might thus advise clients that there was a strong possibility that shares in the manufacturer of the media player might fall in value.


In other cases research notes will be based more on common sense and extrapolation. For example, when the new model of the media player is released, the research firm may send staff to several stores to measure how strong sales are. By comparing this to previous research, they may estimate how many players the company has sold across the country. If this compares favorably to previous forecasts, it may mean the company's revenue will be higher than expected, which could mean the stock price rises or shareholder get larger dividend payments.

Many research notes are passed on by clients to journalists and reported in the news. The research firms tend not to be too upset about this as the reports often give them credibility. This is particularly true where the research note has a named author, who may then earn a media reputation as an expert commentator in his or her field.

Research notes tend to focus on changes in a company's market. Usually, a research note will suggest a client might need to change his buying and selling decisions compared with previous, more general advice. For this reason, a research note usually deals with events rather than trends.



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