Finding Industry Sector Information                                          previous page
                                                                                                            (June 30, 2003)

1.  Introduction. This article focuses on using the Internet to find industrial sector information.  In this article and at the Management Accounting Information Center, industrial sector information is considered to be aggregate data, statistics, and trends of a group of companies that make up a sector.  A sector in this article most often, but not always, refers to those companies that are classified together in one of the commonly used classification schemes - Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) or the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  But, management accountants may want to define their own sector – a group of companies that closely resemble (e.g., more closely than SIC or NAICS) competitors, or a group with exceptional financial performance data.  For such created sectors, data would need to be aggregated by the management accountant from individual company data.

Seeking industrial sector information on the Internet is related to, and can be an extension of, seeking individual company information.  Many websites provide both types of information – individual company information and aggregated data for a group (sector) of companies.  Industrial sector information is, after all, just an aggregate of the individual companies that make up the sector. 

At the
Management Accounting Information Center, the front-page topic Industry, sector trends, data, and statistics, should be used to gain access to Internet sites with sector data.  The front-page topic, Financial results, SEC reporting, and other data on companies, leads to Internet sites with company information, from which sector data can be aggregated by the management accountant.

This article, “Finding Industry Sector Information”, has been written in conjunction with the article, “Finding Company Information”, also available at the
Management Accounting Information Center.   In writing “Finding Company Information”, information from the various websites identified in that article was sought out for an actual company, Venture Industries, and information found on Venture Industries was added to the article.  The use of Venture Industries continues in this article on finding industry sector data.  The focus of this article will be to identify websites that provide sector data that Venture Industries can benchmark against.

This article begins by identifying Internet sites with SIC and NAICS number information.  From these sites, the management accountant can identify the sector his company is in.  This sector will have other companies that are similar to his company and knowing the sector identity and the companies that make up the sector is a good starting place for finding useful sector benchmarking information on the Internet.  In this section, we will identify the SIC and NAICS categories that Venture Industries is in and the other companies in these categories.

Now, knowing Venture Industries SIC and NAICS numbers, we will, in Section 3 identify those websites that I have been able to find that provide sector financial performance data, statistics, and information.  This is an important section, because it is these sites, which will provide the details most useful for the management accountant’s benchmarking project.

Then, in the next section, links to many websites devoted to covering specific industries, or sectors, such as trade association websites, are identified.  Potentially, these sites provide a lot of useful, unique information related to sector performance and other information of interest to management accountants

Websites that publish analytical reviews of industries and industrial sectors are identified in the final section before the concluding section.

2.  Identifying Your Company's Industrial Sector. A good starting point is determining your company's Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code number (assuming you do not know it).   If your company has registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, go to the SEC site,, and enter your company’s name and click Find companies.  This should give you back, from the SEC data base, information on your company, including its SIC number.  Entering Venture Industries gives the SIC category 3714, Motor Vehicle Parts & Accessories, assigned to Venture Industries by the SEC. 

Using the SIC number that the SEC has assigned makes the most sense.  Different government agencies may use different SIC (or NAICS, to be discuss alter) numbers for a company.  For example, the SEC may not assigned the same SIC number to a company that corresponds to the SIC or NAICS number that the Census Bureau has assigned to that company.  This probably has to do with the differences in information that the agency has on the company and the agency’s internal perspectives and programs.  That such different assignments are possible should be considered in searching for and using sector data at different agencies.    Because the performance data usually of most interest to management accountants comes from the type of data that is filed at the SEC, the SEC-assigned SIC numbers makes the most sense to use.

If your company is not a SEC registrant, try entering a company that produces the same products that your company does and is a SEC registrant.  One caution here is to make sure the company does not have other substantive businesses, different from yours, and has a SIC number related to those other products.

Once you have your SIC number, I suggest you go to this Census Bureau site,  At this site, you can enter your SIC number and obtain a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) corresponding number.  You should know both the SIC and the NAICS numbers.  The Securities and Exchange Commission, which assigns only one SIC number to every company that registers, only uses the SIC system.  However, many other federal agencies, such as the Census Bureau, are now using only NAICS numbers.  We will need and use the NAICS number to obtain sector financial performance data from Census Bureau databases.  Entering Venture Industries’ 3714 SIC number at this Census Bureau site brings back four possible NAICS numbers.  One difference between the SIC and the NAICS systems is that the NAICS system is much more detailed in sector identifications.  Whereas SIC classifies all companies that make motor vehicle parts and accessories under one number, 3714, NAICS further divides motor vehicle parts and accessories into more parts classifications (by type) and ends up with several motor vehicle parts and accessories classification numbers.

Of the four NAICS choices for the SIC number 3714, the description for the number 336399 seem to best match Venture Industries and its products.  Detailed descriptions and product examples are given for each NAICS category to aid in the selection of the NAICS number.  Judgment has to be used here.  Corresponding SIC numbers that the Census Bureau applies to products are available to help in the selection.

You can also use this same Census Bureau site,, to search for the NAICS number using a description of your company products.  Because of this, the Census Bureau site is also a good starting point to find, first NAICS, and then, SIC code numbers for your company. This especially true if you are a smaller, un-SEC registered company.  However, you may have to search for the right descriptive terms for your products to use in your search to find the NAICS category that best fits your products.  For example, using only vehicles or parts or vehicle parts does not lead to the right NAICS code for Venture Industries, but motor vehicle parts does.  Once you have the appropriate NAICS category number, you can use this same site to find a corresponding SIC number.

At the Census Bureau site,, you can learn about the NAICS classification system and how it came about to replace the SIC system.

At this point you should have a SIC and a NAICS code number for your company.  For example, for our management accountant’s company Venture Industries, we have SIC 3714, Motor Vehicle Parts and Accessories, NAICS 336399, All Other Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing.  I suggest now identifying the other companies that have the same SIC number.  You should find in this search the other companies that you know are competitors and companies that produce similar products.  At a formally PriceWaterhosueCoopers site, you could find a list of SIC.  Click on a SIC number and companies (and individuals) that have been assigned a SIC number are provided.  Under 3714, over a hundred companies are listed, including Ventures Holdings, which owns Venture Industries.  We find on this list several, but not all, of the larger public companies that Venture Industries lists in its reports as being major competitors.  One major competitor of Venture Industries, Johnson Controls, is not on the list.  The reason why Johnson Controls is not on the list is this company has been assigned another SIC number by the SEC.  This possible variability of SIC-assigned codes should be considered when we seek benchmarking data using SIC (and NAICS) numbers.  We will come back to this SIC variability problem in the next section.

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