This playbook provides information and resources for conducting research about a company's financial profile.
Being familiar with the following terms may be useful as you conduct company research.
Sources: sba.gov; law.cornell.edu
The amount of information available about a company depends on the type of company being researched:
Public companies must adhere to strict reporting regulations, and so there is a lot of available information about these companies, such as SEC filings, annual reports, analysts' reports, news, books, case studies, etc.
Much less information about private companies is available, as these companies are not required to report to the federal government. Some information about private companies may be found at the state level (see the attached document for links to business divisions and search tools in all 50 states).
Information about international companies varies. If the company trades on the U.S. exchanges, it must file annual reports (form 20-F) with the SEC. Other information may be found on the company's website, news articles, and databases.
Financial and other information for non-profits can be found in Form 990, which non-profits must file annually with the IRS. Some of the information can also be found on GuideStar, and some may be found in the the non-profit's website as well as in library databases.
Proprietary information such as trade secrets and other private business or internal information is kept confidential and not disclosed outside of specific groups or individuals inside the company.
Available information about a company comes from documents filed with the government, from the company's self-presentation, and from third parties.
Company information disclosed to the SEC
Publicly held companies are mandated to file certain financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), such as
The company's website
Many companies maintain websites where they showcase products and services as well as their mission, vision, and values. Many of these websites include company history and investor information such as annual reports. Look for this information under sections titled "About Us," "Investor Information," "Mission and Vision," and similar. Remember this type of information is self-reported, so it's likely to be subjective.
Information from third parties
Third party information about companies can be found in sources such as
Sources: investor.gov; sec.gov; investopedia.com
See the links below for places to find information about companies.