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Morningstar inc   (MORN)
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    Sector  Financial    Industry Investment Services
   Industry Investment Services
   Sector  Financial

Morningstar inc

Business Description


Morningstar is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Our mission is to create great products that help investors reach their financial goals. We offer an extensive line of data, software, research, and investment management offerings for financial advisors, asset managers, retirement plan providers and sponsors, and individual investors. In addition to our U.S.-based products and services, we offer local versions of our products designed for investors in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and South Africa. Morningstar serves approximately 250,000 financial advisors, 1,300 asset management firms, 28 retirement plan providers, 300,000 retirement plan sponsors, and 10.1 million individual investors. We have operations in 27 countries.

Our data and research are core assets that we seek to leverage to build Morningstar's long-term value. We provided extensive data on more than 500,000 investments, including mutual funds, stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), closed-end funds, separate accounts, and variable annuities. We also track real-time market data on more than 17 million exchange-traded equities, derivatives, commodities, currencies, and other investments.

Our data and proprietary analytical tools such as the Morningstar Rating for mutual funds, which rates past performance based on risk- and cost-adjusted returns, and the Morningstar Style Box, which provides a visual summary of a mutual fund's underlying investment style, have become important tools that millions of investors and advisors use in making investment decisions. We've created other tools, such as the Ownership Zone, Sector Delta, and Market Barometer, which allow investors to see how different investments work together to form a portfolio and to track its progress. Our popular Portfolio X-Ray tool helps investors evaluate their portfolios and get a clear view of their underlying holdings.

We’ve been providing independent analyst research on mutual funds and other investment vehicles since the mid-1980s. We use this analyst research to provide a qualitative, forward-looking Morningstar Analyst Rating for funds. We now provide research reports and Morningstar Analyst Ratings for approximately 4,600 funds globally, including active, passive, multi-asset, ETF, and closed-end fund strategies. We also offer qualitative research and ratings on alternative funds, state-sponsored college savings plan portfolios, and target-date funds.

In 2015, we announced plans to launch the industry's first sustainable investing metrics for global mutual funds and ETFs. Our new metrics are based on company-level ratings and research from Sustainalytics, a leading provider of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and corporate governance ratings and research. We have a long tradition of innovative research centered on good stewardship, lower costs, and more transparency for investors and want to bring even greater transparency and accountability to the investment industry with information about sustainability, while helping investors to put their money to work in ways that are meaningful to them.

As part of our research efforts on individual stocks, we popularized the concepts of economic moat, a measure of competitive advantage originally developed by Warren Buffett, and margin of safety, which reflects the size of the discount in a stock's price relative to its estimated value. The Morningstar Rating for stocks is based on the stock's current price relative to our analyst-generated fair value estimates, as well as the company's level of business risk and economic moat. We offer a variety of other qualitative measures such as Stewardship Grades, which help investors identify companies and fund firms that have demonstrated a high level of commitment to shareholders and stewardship of investors' capital.

Our analysts cover approximately 1,500 stocks, using a consistent, proprietary methodology that focuses on fundamental analysis, competitive advantage assessment, and intrinsic value estimation. In July 2015, we received the “Thought Leadership” award at the Investment Week Investment Marketing and Innovation Awards in London for our independent equity research drawing on our economic moat methodology.

In addition to our analyst-driven coverage, we provide quantitative ratings and reports for approximately 40,000 companies globally. These equity ratings draw on the fundamental research of our equity analyst team and provide a forward-looking statistical view of the valuation, competitive advantage, and level of uncertainty for stocks that are often under-followed by other research firms.

Through our Morningstar Credit Ratings, LLC subsidiary, which is a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO), we provide new issue and surveillance ratings and analysis for commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS), as well as operational risk assessment services.

In addition, we publish credit ratings and associated research on corporate debt issuers. We currently provide ratings on about 400 issuers. Morningstar, Inc. is not currently an NRSRO, and our credit ratings on corporate issuers are not NRSRO credit ratings.

In our investment management business, we've developed in-depth advice on asset allocation, portfolio construction, and security selection to meet the needs of investors and professionals looking for integrated portfolio solutions. We’ve published research on "Gamma," an innovative measure that quantifies how much additional retirement income investors can generate by making better financial planning decisions. We use the concept of human capital—or potential future earning ability—to provide a more complete picture of an investor’s financial worth and optimize a portfolio’s asset mix.

Our strategy is to widen our economic moat, or sustainable competitive advantage, and build shareholder value by focusing on our three key objectives. Our investment data, research, and ratings are at the heart of our strategy, allowing us to help investors achieve better investment outcomes whether they make their own investment decisions or outsource management of their portfolios.

Produce the most effective investment data, research, and ratings to help investors reach their financial goals.

We believe our leadership position in independent investment research offers a competitive advantage that would be difficult for competitors to replicate. Our goal is to leverage our proprietary research and intellectual property to help investors with both decision support (via Morningstar Direct) and outsourced investment management (via our investment management business).

We’re focusing our research efforts on several different areas, as described below.

Manager research (including mutual funds, ETFs, separate accounts, and other vehicles)

Our goal for manager research is to leverage our leadership position to reach additional customer groups. In contrast to most other companies, we also integrate manager research with our software, which we believe is another competitive advantage.


Equity research

Our equity research complements our approach to manager research, where we focus on analyzing the individual stocks that make up each fund's portfolio. We had more than 100 equity analysts globally, making us one of the largest providers of independent equity research. We believe our analysts’ long-term approach, deep industry knowledge, and focus on sustainable competitive advantage are important factors that set us apart and help investors achieve better investment outcomes.

Credit research and ratings

Morningstar Credit Ratings, LLC, our structured credit research and ratings subsidiary, is a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO) that has earned a reputation for innovation and excellence in the structured finance market.

Morningstar Credit Ratings has submitted a preliminary application to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to expand its NRSRO license to include credit ratings for corporate bonds and financial institutions. We’re seeking to expand the license because we believe we can make a difference in the market by bringing transparency, unique perspectives, and superior client service to all investors across the fixed-income markets.

Holistic advice methodologies (including our research on Gamma and the Total Wealth Approach)

Over the past several years, we’ve developed new research tools that provide a more holistic approach to investing and asset allocation. Whereas traditional asset allocation methodologies focus solely on financial assets (such as stocks and bonds), we’ve developed methodologies that provide a more complete view of all sources of wealth, including financial capital, human capital, housing assets, and retirement and pension benefits.

Develop Morningstar Direct as our flagship decision support platform.

We began rolling out the next-generation version of Morningstar Direct, our institutional investment research platform.

The new software is designed to be more intuitive, elegant, and easy-to-use. It provides a more consistent, cohesive experience with a strong emphasis on Morningstar’s proprietary research and tools. We also improved the underlying technology, including a more streamlined development process for commonly used Morningstar capabilities such as portfolio management tools.

The new software is fully web-based, which eliminates the need for desktop software installations and allows immediate access to new features. It allows to us innovate more rapidly and more easily configure our software solutions to meet client needs. It also addresses the growing need for mobile-optimized capabilities to extend the desktop experience onto mobile devices.

Over time, we expect to migrate many of our core software capabilities to Morningstar Direct, which will serve as our main platform for clients looking for information to support the investment decisions they make on their own or validate investment recommendations from another party. We also plan to expand the user base for Morningstar Direct by enhancing workflow capabilities for our existing clients and adding workflows for new types of clients, such as financial advisors.

Build world-class investment management solutions based on our proprietary research.

We leverage our innovative, proprietary research by building world-class investment management solutions that help investors achieve better outcomes. Our goal is to connect our existing capabilities to create holistic solutions that help financial advisors, asset managers, and individual investors with portfolio construction, monitoring, security selection, and implementation.


Morningstar Investment Profiles: pre-made or custom-generated investment fact sheets institutions can use for investor communications;

Morningstar Commodity Data: high-quality market data and analytical products for energy data management systems, financial and agricultural data management, historical analysis, trading, risk management and forecasting;

Print and online publications;

ByAllAccounts, which provides innovative data aggregation technology for financial applications;

Investment conferences;

Morningstar Enterprise Data Management: customized data aggregation and performance reporting solutions that help clients integrate data more effectively;

Market data and desktop software; and

Other investment software for financial advisors and institutions




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