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Overview of Company Information
It is easier to find information about public companies (those that sell stock to shareholders) than about private companies (those that are privately owned by an individual or a group). Public companies in the United States are required by law to file documents with the Securities and Exchange commission (SEC). These include the 10K (annual)and 10Q (quarterly) reports. In addition, public companies issue an annual report to shareholders.
When looking for information about a company, consider both information from the company itself (e.g., the company website, SEC filings, press releases, etc.) as well as information about the company written by others (e.g., newspaper articles, analyst reports, articles by professors, etc.).
Finding information about a company includes the following steps:
- Get an overview of the company, find out if it is public or private
- Find the company website and review it carefully, particularly the sections for investors or media/press.
- If the company is public, find relevant 10K and 10Q reports and annual reports to shareholders
- Search for news, magazine and other periodical articles for information. This may be the only way to find information on private companies.
- If the company is public, search for analyst and brokerage reports. These sometimes contain an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).
- Identify competitors.
Annual Reports - Public Web Sites
Try these sites if you cannot locate the annual report you need at the company website. You may need to purchase the report from these sources.
Analyst Reports and SWOT Analysis
Look here for expert opinions on companies:
This database only works with Internet Explorer. Search for reports by company name or ticker symbol. Contributors include JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and many more. Reports provided by Datamonitor/MarketLine and GlobalData often include SWOT analysis.
Company Overviews & Current Financials
EBSCO Business Source Complete A comprehensive database providing full text access to articles on management, finance, economics, industry, accounting, and international business from popular business magazines, scholarly journals, and trade publications. Also contains other full text sources of information such as financial data, book reviews, case studies, conference proceedings, investment research reports, industry reports, market research reports, country reports, company profiles, and SWOT analyses.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
Contains encyclopedias and reference books on a variety of subjects. A nice alternative to Wikipedia; includes business plans.
Hoover's Company Profiles
Find up to date proprietary editorial content covering more than 40,000 public and non-public companies and 225,000 key executives.
Company Overviews - Public Web Sites
Manta "Manta is the world's largest online community for promoting and connecting small business. With more than one million registered users and nearly 64 million company profiles, business owners and professionals use Manta to promote and differentiate their offerings and "be found" online by customers and prospects."
Yahoo Company Index "Yahoo! Finance brings you company profiles from Capital IQ, who provides users with information on over 9,000 public companies, including contact information, business summaries, officer and employee information, sector and industry classifications, business and earnings announcement summaries, and financial statistics and ratios. Yahoo adds stock charts based on historical data from Commodity Systems, Inc. (CSI), and links to other resources."
Historical Company Information, Annual Reports and SEC Filings
Information on private companies can be sparse. Private companies are not required to file any financial data in the U.S., with exception of registration data filed with the Secretary of State, in the state where they are registered.
Private company information can be difficult to find. These databases have information on private companies.
Bureau Van Dijk Orbis
Global private and listed company information, standardized for cross-border comparisons including financial data, company profiles, credit risk information, private equity data and portfolios, and links to EIU Country Profiles.
D&B Hoovers (formerly Hoover's Online)
Search for company profiles, executives, news, and industry information. Company profiles include business focus, history, competition, SWOT analysis, executive, news coverage, and financial reports. Industry information includes access to market research, industry norms, industry ratios.
Provides key financial data, number of employees, company contacts, whether family-owned or private equity-backed, M&A history, and competitor lists for private U.S. companies. The amount of data available varies by company. Registration with a valid UGA email address is required to use the database
Also, often 'local press' have more stories on a locally based company than national newspapers. (e.g. San Jose Mercury News versus The New York Times). Local newspapers can be found on ProQuest or Factiva.
Also, please don't forget that:
Secretaries of State links - Coordinated Legal Tech
Lists and links for Secretaries of State and business look-up links.
Company Web Sites
Company web sites can provide a wealth of information, particularly for public companies. Look for press releases, investor information including presentations and events and filings such as SEC filings, annual reports or corporate social responsibility or "community" reports. Use information from the company carefully and watch for bias or an overly-optimistic interpretation of factual data.