This guide provides sources and strategies for identifying and researching companies. The financial sources identified are primarily for publicly traded companies.
To identify companies operating within an industry, search company directories available online or in print through the library or free on the Internet. Directories typically contain contact information, such as the address, telephone number, and key executives or personnel. Some directories may offer minimal financial and profile information, as well. Most can be searched by industry and some are organized by industry codes.
Find resources for identifying and researching companies in our company guides:
Considerable information is available on publicly traded companies--those that trade their shares on public stock exchanges. However, most companies in the world are privately held companies.
Private companies are more challenging to research, since they are not required to publish detailed financial statements or annual reports. When researching private companies, you will not have access to annual reports, financials, analyst reports, or SWOTs. You will have to use article databases, directories, the company's website, industry associations, and patent information sources. In some cases, even these sources may not reveal much information.
Companies can also own other companies, called subsidiaries. If the parent company is public, the parent company generally files the financials, and incorporates financial information from the subsidiary within its own results. If the parent company is private, no financials are filed for either the parent or the subsidiaries.