Fundamental data consists of everything that is disclosed in 10-Q quarterly and 10-K annual reports, including key business items, such as earnings, sales, inventories, and rents. These facts are certified by the company itself. Of course, not all companies follow the same accounting principles. In fact, every company does it differently. Analysis of financial statement is a well-developed and important area of research.
Fundamental data should be updated almost continuously to fully reflect the new data of the corporations. Updates include inserting data on newly listed companies, mergers, new financial data, etc. Now, if the trading/investment system acquires real-time, streaming data and translates it into a usable representation, then the entire update process would be truly continuous. (Of course, automated tools cannot analyze most nonquantified information.)1
Fundamental data should be normalized across the entire universe. Normalization reconstructs fundamental data according to identical accounting rules. So, EBITDA for one steel company will be calculated exactly the same way as all other steel companies, and almost all other companies. Normalization is time-consuming since it forces analysts to read footnotes and make adjustments. Normalization is the real service you pay a data vendor for.
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