You know the drill: Before investing in a company, spend a fair amount of time researching it, getting a good grasp of its financial health, sustainable competitive strengths, management character, growth prospects, and valuation. You can find some of the information you need in trade publications.

For instance, everyone's worried about the slowing economy, but some investors might feel overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the turbulence. Trade publications let you focus in on the conditions and happenings in particular sectors. Computers, energy, media, restaurants, utilities … that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what trade magazines cover.

Here are some of the things I learned more about recently while following my own advice to peruse trade publications.

Emerging market investment
PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) is planning to invest $1 billion in China over the next four years to increase its presence and brand awareness. Toyota (NYSE:TM), meanwhile, is doubling its investment in a new plant in India to about $680 million.

That's particularly interesting in light of the recent slowdown in the U.S. and Europe. But both China and India have had quickly growing economies in recent years, swelling the ranks of their middle classes. Companies are hoping to generate profits from these consumers by offering them goods such as beverages and automobiles. U.S. carmakers such as Ford (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) have been severely struggling lately, but while Toyota and Honda (NYSE:HMC) also feel pinched, they're aiming to boost their capacity in India, opening or expanding plants.

Slowing manufacturing
Less auspicious is the news that the overall manufacturing sector is struggling mightily, with its output level dropping to its lowest point in some 26 years. According to IndustryWeek, manufacturing activity hasn't increased for three months in a row.

Partly to blame was a strike at Boeing (NYSE:BA), but the U.S. economy's overall slowdown, triggered by the credit crisis, was a bigger contributor. More evidence of the manufacturing pullback: ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT), the world's largest steelmaker, is cutting back its fourth-quarter production by a full 30%.

Price increases coming?
In our current economic environment, the majority of manufacturing CFOs surveyed are ready to boost prices, as their own raw material and energy costs have been rising. This may end up lifting the companies' financial performance. Also handy to know is that fully 86% of those surveyed do not offer health-care benefits to retirees, up from 80% last year. This is in line with our current corporate atmosphere of providing employees and retirees with fewer defined benefits, such as pensions, replacing those with the likes of 401(k) plans.

Investors must take many things into consideration when deciding where to put their money. Certainly overall economic conditions must be part of your calculations, but don't get overwhelmed. Today's market is offering up some great bargains, and trade publications can provide you with the inside scoop on the sectors that interest you.

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of PepsiCo. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.