How to Use this Guide
Welcome to Business and Company Research Guide.
Use this guide's home page as a starting point.
Company Research Tips
The type and amount of information you will find on a company depends upon several factors. Before you begin your research, ask yourself these questions:
1. Are there any variations of the company name?
Different research resources may use alternative spellings or abbreviations of a company name. Some databases require a ticker symbol to find company information.
2. Is the company public or private?
For tips on finding information on private companies, go to the related tab at the top of this page.
3. What is the difference between publicly-and-privately-held companies?
Privately-held companies are - no surprise here - privately held. This means that, in most cases, the company is owned by the company's founders, management or a group of private investors. A public company, on the other hand, is a company that has sold a portion of itself to the public via an initial public offering of some of its stock, meaning shareholders have claim to part of the company's assets and profits.
One of the biggest differences between the two types of companies deals with public disclosure. If it's a public U.S. company, which means it is trading on a U.S. stock exchange, it is typically required to file quarterly earnings reports (among other things) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This information is also made available to shareholders and the public. Private companies, however, are not required to disclose their financial information to anyone since they do not trade stock on a stock exchange.
The main advantage public companies have is their ability to tap the financial markets by selling stock (equity) or bonds (debt) to raise capital (i.e. cash) for expansion and projects. The main advantage to private companies is that management doesn't have to answer to stockholders and isn't required to file disclosure statements with the SEC. However, a private company can't dip into the public capital markets and must therefore turn to private funding, which can boost the cost of capital and may limit expansion. It has been said often that private companies seek to minimize the tax bite, while public companies seek to increase profits for shareholders.
3. What about the company's "family tree"?
Is it a parent company? Division of another? Foreign-owned? Family-owned?
4. Is the company newsworthy?
Companies tend to be in the news when they want the PR, when they are performing extremely well, or when they are having problems. Even a small private company may be considered newsworthy by local press.
To get help with these questions, start with a directory listing or company profile. Mouseover the “Databases / Websites” tab at the top of the page, and click on the "Company Profiles" link.
Click on the Databases / Websites link to see a list of business related databases and websites.