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Business Research

Research Guide for Business

Finding Company Information

When looking for information about a company, be aware that it is easier to find information about public ones than it is for a private ones. Public companies sell stock to their shareholders while private companies are usually owned by an individual or a group. Public companies in the United States are required by law to file annual and quarterly reports to the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC). They also provide annual reports to shareholders.

A good start for doing research is to look at information from the company itself as well as information about the company written by others (newspaper articles, journal articles, etc.). You can find a lot of this information in Kares Library databases as well as individual company websites.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Is the company public or private? As mentioned, it is easier to find information about public companies because they are required to file documents with the SEC.
  • Is the company local, national, or foreign? Is the company based in the United States or abroad?
  • Is it a parent or subsidiary? It is best to research the parent company to find out information about its subsidiaries. Examples are Disney Corporation (parent) and The Disney Channel (subsidiary) and Time Warner (parent) and HBO, TBS (subsidiaries).
  • What is the Business Type? What is the company’s primary function? It is as a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, service, or other. Many resources contain information specific to these individual categories. For example, an industry report regarding Harley Davidson will probably include information about the automotive or motorcycle industry. .
  • Is it a company or a brand?  Examples are: Nabisco is the company and Oreo is the brand; Proctor & Gamble is the company while Tide is the brand.  You will want to research both the company and the brand.

Search Tips:

  • Read through the company website thoroughly
  • It is more difficult to find information about private companies
  • For private companies, search current news articles, magazine profiles, and trade publications
  • Look at SWOT reports
  • Identify competitors

These are the types of data you will find in business databases.

  • Company overviews
  • Analysts reports
  • SWOT analysis
  • Financials and ratios
  • Recent news
  • Historical company information
  • SEC filings
  • Competitors
  • Stocks & bonds
  • Key personnel
  • Marketing strategies
  • Products & services
  • Annual reports