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Guide to information resources in business.

Questions To Ask

Before you begin company research, you should know a little bit of information about your company. 

Why?  It'll impact where you search and the amount of information that you find.   Ask:

  1. Is the company public or private?
  2. Is the company a subsidiary?
  3. Is the company American or international?

Image Source:  Dru Bloomfield.   CC BY 2.0.  Wikimedia Commons.

Private companies are more difficult to research because they are privately owned;  they do not have to disclose any information to the public.

Public companies are easiest to research.  They are regulated by the government (in the U.S., it's the SEC), sell shares to the general public, and must publicly report company and financial information.

Subsidiary companies will not have their own annual reports, and you may not find information on them in the resources listed on this page.  You'll need to determine who the parent company is and research the parent company.  Journal articles will be a major source for information on subsidiaries.

International companies also won't be included in some of the databases, such as NetAdvantage.  Check Mergent or Business Source Elite for international company information.

Company Profiles

Company profiles provide succinct overviews of a company--a company overview, history, key facts,  top executives, major products and services, competitors, and locations/subsidiaries.  Company profiles are an excellent starting point.

Annual Reports

"Publicly traded companies that meet certain criteria are required to file financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

One of those reports is the 10-K, a document filed annually that is sometimes referred to as a company's annual report. 

Because the 10-K includes a tremendous amount of detail and legal jargon, most companies also produce a more reader-friendly annual report that typically contains product information, photographs, charts,  a letter from the CEO, and other company and financial data." Source: IRIN

Links below will take you to the more user-friendly annual reports.

Image Source:  Design by Erik Möller (Eloquence), photo by Everlong.  CC-BY-SA-3.0.  Wikimedia Commons.


Search the following resources for company financial data.


Journal articles offer information on companies from an outsider's viewpoint.  


A 10-K provides information such as company history, organizational structure, executive compensation, equity, subsidiaries, and audited financial statements.  Following are resources that'll take you to 10-K's.

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