Skip to Main Content

Company Research

Getting Started with Company Research

1.  When researching a company, it is important to know if it is publicly owned, a subsidiary or division of a larger company, foreign owned, or if it is privately held.  Once you know the kind of company you are researching, it will be easier to choose the databases most likely to have the information you need.

A company that has issued securities through an initial public offering and is traded on a stock exchange is defined as a public company.   Every public company must publish an annual shareholders' report and file financial disclosure documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Public companies are usually the easiest to research.  

Subsidiaries and divisions of public companies can be difficult to research because the parent company is not required to report details about such entities in their annual reports or SEC filings.

Foreign-owned companies can be difficult to research.  A small number of large international companies are traded on U.S. stock exchanges and usually present few problems. However, locating information about those with limited markets outside their home country will require more effort. 

Privately held companies are not required to release information about themselves to the public and, therefore, are often a challenge to research.

A good place to confirm or discover a company's status is a business directory .

2.  Companies may be in the news if they are performing extremely well, if they want PR, or if they are having problems.  Companies that are involved with consumer products or services are more likely to attract news coverage than those with industrial products.  Large publicly owned companies are more likely to be covered by news sources simply because information is easier to obtain.  A newsworthy small company may be covered by local or regional press, but rarely in national news sources. Privately held companies usually shun the spotlight. 

Company Organization Charts, Salary Issues, and Workers' Compensation