Industry reports provide an overview of the current environment in a particular field of business (e.g., the automobile production, media, the biotechnology).
My favorite sources for industry reports are the Standard & Poor's Industry Handbook (available in many business libraries) and the subscription-based MergentOnline. Other sources include IBISWorld, S&P NetAdvantage, BusinessInsights, Gale's Encyclopedia of American Industries, the Thomson/Gale Business & Company Resource Center, SkyMinder, Datamonitor, FirstResearch, Plunkett Research and OneSource. You can also find industry reports through the sources that sell Analyst Reports (see the separate entry for "Analyst Reports") and by searching the Web with your favorite search engines.
Industry Norms & Key Business Ratios (Mergent/D&B) provides industry financial and business data by SIC Code. "Industry Norms" means average balance sheet data (accounts receivable, inventory, accounts payable, bank loans, net sales, etc.). "Key Business Ratios" covers profitability, solvency and efficiency. "Efficiency" includes the "collection period," which is how long it takes for invoices to get paid on average in that industry. The data is available in print and online (call 800-955-8080 to order or subscribe).
Bizminer provides provides financial and statistical data for a broad range of industries. Notably, the data can be broken down to the national, state or metropolitan level. Also cool: you can find information about start-ups and sole proprietorships. Reports can be purchased individually, or you can sign up for a flat-fee subscription.
Reports on industries popular with small businesses are posted by the Missouri Small Business Development Centers.
Euromonitor has been recommended to me for international industry reports. Business Monitor International publishes reports on industries in emerging markets.
Useful supplementary information may be available from eiu.com, government agency reports, the Yahoo! Industry Center and articles in business journals.
For information about the metals industry, see the publications sold through the Metal Bulletin Store, including Metal Producers of the World, the International Scrap Directory, etc. See also the sources listed in the "Commodity Prices" entry.