Private - Information on private companies is more difficult to find. Directories and news stories may be the main sources. All 50 states make some level of corporate and business filings available online, see Business Filings Databases for links to the states.
International - The amount of information on international companies varies. If the company trades on the U.S. exchanges it must file annual reports (20-F) with the SEC. Other information can be found in directories, databases, newspapers, and magazines.
Non-Profit - Nonprofits must file IRS Form 990 which includes financial data. Form 990 and other information on nonprofits such as organizational statistics, a summary of organization goals and activities, list of board members and executives can be found in Guidestar.org. For more information see the Nonprofit Industry Research Guide.
Subsidiary - A subsidiary is part of a larger parent company. Parent companies do not necessarily disclose subsidiary information separately. Information is usually interwoven within parent company profiles and financials. Some parent companies may provide information on subsidiaries via the corporate website. Other information may be located through news articles.
Company Research Venn Diagram
Company and Industry Profiles
Understanding how a company is organized is the first step in company research. This information guides the researcher to the right types of sources and sets the appropriate expectation of how much information can be found. (See additional information below)
The amount of information available varies greatly depending on the type of company. Most company databases have information on public companies, but there are sources that specialize in private company information and subsidiaries as well.
The resources listed on this page contain in-depth reports on companies. The number of companies and the depth of the information provided in each of these sources varies. You may want to look at several of them. If you are looking for specific information about a company such as SWOT analysis, use the tabs at the top of the guide. If you have questions or problems contact James McCloskey, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mergent Intellect features a deep collection of worldwide business information, including private and public U.S. and international business data, industry news, facts and figures, executive contact information, industry profiles, and more. Use this link to access Mergent Help Worksheets to walk you through the search process and advanced search strategies.
Mergent Archives is an online database providing access to a vast, indexed collection of historical corporate and industry related documents including Mergent's Full Collection of Digitized Manuals, Ford Equity Research Reports, an Industry Report Collection, and 85 years of Annual Reports for companies across the globe dating back to as early as 1925. This database contains more than 180,000 documents covering over 100 countries and industries.
Private companies - Use Mergent Intellect and additional online resources noted below.
Corporate Reports Online - The Collection of Historical Annual Reports is a project of the Lippincott Library at the University of Pennsylvania. The Collection consists of annual reports in PDF format from U.S. companies and covers the period 1800 through 1955. Reports are continuously added.
Private Company Rankings
A private company is a company that is not traded on any stock exchange so it is not required to file detailed financial information with the SEC (Security Exchange Commission). A private company can be a large corporation, a medium-sized, or a small business. A private company can also be a subsidiary or division of a larger company. Some examples of private companies are W.L. Gore, Mars, Bechtel, and Toys R Us. Please use the link above for Mergent Intellect. Other resources include:
Company History Business Source Ultimate Histories for over 10,000 companies are available. Select the "Company Information" link from the list on the top.
Mergent Archives Mergent Archives is an online database providing access to a vast, indexed collection of historical corporate and industry related documents including Mergent's Full Collection of Digitized Manuals, Ford Equity Research Reports, an Industry Report Collection, and 85 years of Annual Reports for companies across the globe dating back to as early as 1925. This database contains more than 180,000 documents covering over 100 countries and industries.
Ticker Symbols "A ticker symbol is an arrangement of characters (usually letters) representing a particular security listed on an exchange or otherwise traded publicly. When a company issues security to the public marketplace, it selects an available ticker symbol for its securities which investors use to place trade orders. Every listed security has a unique ticker symbol, facilitating the vast array of trade orders that flow through the financial markets every day."
Many of the resources in this guide will identify ticker symbols, but one of the quickest ways to find a ticker symbol is to use a website like Yahoo Finance or CNBC.