FAQ: How do I read the output from CompuStat into Excel?

The output from CompuStat in Excel can be confusing. When Total Assets is 57851.0000 in Excel, how do you have to read this number?

The numbers are stored as text in Excel (that’s why you see this green part in the left upper corner). When you convert the text to numbers, you can get an even stranger number: 578.510.000.

Solution, first, check the definition in Compustat: the scale of the item is mentioned there. Click for example the questionmark behind the item. The scale (millions, thousands) is mentioned under Units. Or: click the link Manuals and Overviews on the top of the screen in CompuStat, open CompuStat Online Manual and search for your item. For example: the unit of Total Assets is millions.

Next, check the ‘region and language’ settings of your computer, because they determine how Excel ‘reads’ dots and comma’s. If your settings are dutch, the numbers will look strange. If you choose ‘English (United States)’, then open your Excel file with the CompuStat output, and then choose Convert Text to Numbers, the numbers make much more sense: you’ll get 57851. This means Total Assets of Google in 2010 was 57851 million USD.

And if you want to be absolutely sure, you can always double check some data points, by checking the annual reports.

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