A Gift Horse From Inc.com

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Because private company financial data is so tricky to uncover we’re always really excited, time and again, to mention any tool that helps us accomplish that task.  So what to do when you’re investigating how well a private company should be performing in a particular industry, but they’re not being forthcoming with figures? The good news: 1) You can check out this free toy from Inc.com: its Profitability Report.  For this content Inc.com sourced from Sageworks, which aggregates private companies’ financial data in order to “enable you to benchmark a company's performance to its peer group.” 2) Choose a category from the list and see a neatly laid out chart that includes several important numbers such as: Sample Size, EBITDA Margin, Sales per Employee, Current Ratio etc. 3) And if you’re a bit rusty on your accounting vocabulary, it provides simple explanations below each term.

Now the bad news: 1)  Inc.com loudly touts a calculator feature, but unless I’m sorely mistaken, this calculator does not in fact exist as of this writing.  Hopefully it will be available in the future. 2)  Another important caveat is that the industries covered are very broad.  If you’re trying to open a new theater chain, pretty much the only relevant category is “Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation,” rather than “Theaters.”  Hence the validity of this data could be questionable depending on the type of research you're doing. 3)  I visited the Sageworks mothership directly to see if they had a better version of this tool.  They didn’t, and instead they asked me to sign up for a single sample report.  Meh.