Research and analysis is categorized as either buy-side or sell-side. You, as an investor, will see only sell-side information. Buy-side analysis, in contrast, is created by and for institutional investors, such as mutual funds and pension funds.
Sell-side research is available from either in-house or independent sources. Some brokerage firms maintain research departments and provide in-house analysis both as a service to their clients and a means to stimulate trading activity. Independent analysis is provided by companies like Standard & Poor's, Reuters, Market Edge and Morningstar, whose research teams are dedicated to creating and publishing research analysis. Scottrade offers several of these research reports for free under the Quotes & Research tab in your account.
Porter's Five Forces
On an individual stock level, analysis typically follows some method of company-specific research: peer comparison followed by a review of the company's valuation and/or technical analysis of the recent price history. One of the most common models for doing company-specific research is called the Porter Five Forces Model. It calls for a specific review of industry competitors and the rivalry that exists between them, the ease with which new companies could enter the industry and compete directly against the company, the bargaining power of the company's suppliers, the bargaining power of the company's customers and the possibility of substitute products or services.