When researching a company, it is important to know whether it is public, private, or a subsidiary of a larger company. Determine early in your research whether the company is public or private.
Public companies are the easiest to research. Companies with at least 500 stockholders and/or $5 million in assets and/or big private debt placements must file disclosure documents with the SEC. Subsidiaries of public companies can be difficult to research because the parent company is not required to report on each of them individually. Private companies are not required to release any information and are therefore more challenging to research. A public or publicly-held company is one that has shares outstanding that are available to be bought and sold by individual investors from the public. Selling of these securities is done via trading on the U.S. stock exchanges. Use the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Central Index Key (CIK) to identify corporations and individual people who have filed with the SEC.
- Business Insights includes company profiles and histories, mergers and acquisitions, news and magazine articles, financials, rankings, and market share data.
Search the company information section of Factiva:
- Click on the "Companies/Markets" link at the top of the database page.
- On the next page, click on the "Company" link at the top of the page.
- On "Get Company Snapshot" page, Search for your company by name or ticker.
- On the next page, Click on the "Reports" link on the left side of the page.
- Finally, select one of the two company profile reports available.
- The company web site should be the first place you start your research. Annual reports, press releases, CEO statements, company history and job openings/descriptions are just a few pieces of key data that will be valuable to your research. Use Google or Bing to find your company.
- Edgar provides 10-K, 20-F, proxy statements, some annual reports, and other financial statements.
- Wall Street Executive Library has over 500,000 links to company information and 2,000 company home pages.
- Hoover's has company contact information for about 12,000 public companies. These Company Capsules include: Address; Phone number; link to the company website; Description of what the company does; competitors; financial data; key people in the company; SEC filings including IPOs; Stock quotes and historical data and links to stories about the company.
- SecForm4.Com and the Edgar Database let you look up filings by public companies to see who the major shareholders are. The SEC requires "Insider," "Institutional" and "Beneficial" shareholders to file forms disclosing their share ownership in public companies. "Insiders" are people who own 10% of the companies stock, officers and directors. They file Forms 3, 4, 5. Otherwise, the names of shareholders are private.
"Going public" carries several burdens for a company that was previously operating privately, the most important of which is the burden of disclosure of information. Luckily for researchers, this requirement to file detailed reports of the company with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) results in the availability of much data to the general public.
- Use subject term "going public (securities)" in Business Source Complete.
- Use "initial public offerings" to search for IPO information in Factiva.
- Click on "Company", then "IPO Central" at Hoover's Online and search for IPO information for the past four quarters using the menu choice. Also use the ''Target IPO Companies'' link to screen for companies by underwriter, location, and industry.
- IPO Home has information on IPO companies, domestic and global, for the past 12 months, filings, calendar, aftermarket performance, information on secondary offerings.
- NASDAQ's IPO summary lists new issues and secondary offerings for the latest two months, filings and aftermarket analysis of the recent IPOs.
- Moody's, D&B, and Fitch credit ratings are available in Factiva. Type the name of your company and (fitch or moody's or dun) and credit into the search box. With free registration, limited access to bond ratings is available at Fitch Ratings. If the company has issued corporate bonds, find S&P ratings in the Bond Guide.
A private or privately-held company is one that is not raising capital by selling stock to the public. Only the founders, employees, and possibly a few large investors (venture capitalists) may own interest. Consequently no disclosure of information is required of the company according to Federal Securities Laws. Whatever information a private company makes available is completely up to the individual company.
- Often the best (and sometimes only) way to find information on private or small businesses is to search for articles published about the company in magazines, trade journals and newspapers.
- Articles can be found by searching Business Source Complete, a database with full text for more than 2,300 business periodicals.
- Factiva's Search page gives you access to 9,000 publications from 118 countries, including major national and international newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and The New York Times.
- AtoZdatabases include addresses and sales information for over 11 million U.S. companies. Very useful for locating smaller businesses (which tend to also be private) as companies of all employee sizes and annual sales ranges ar included.
- Regional Business News provides comprehensive full text for regional business publications.
- SOSDirect (only available at Faulk) provides up-to-date access to information about Texas business organizations maintained by the Office of the Secretary of State. Name availability, assumed name, federal employer identification number (FEIN), and taxpayer identification number (TID) are among the search options. No fees are charged when using this database in the Library.
- Dun and Bradstreet's Million Dollar Directory has public and private companies, but includes only companies which have a minimum of 180 employees located at a headquarters or a single location, 900 employees if the company's location is a branch, or have a total sales volume of more than $9,000,000.
- AtoZDatabases will help you locate competitors in a specific geographic area (state, city, area code, zip code). The database provides basic information such as address, key officers, lines of business, sales volume, and, when available, credit ratings and number of employees.
- Austin Business Journal Book of Lists provides listings of Austin's largest companies in their fields by ranking, and names of key decision makers, along with their titles and complete contact information
- D&B's Regional Business Directory has a Business Rankings section for the top 1,000.
- Forbes lists best small companies.
- Fortune Magazine has company rankings (various categories)
- Inc 5000: lists the fastest growing private companies.
- Price's Company Rankings has rankings for different types of companies.
- The Official Board offers charts for the world's 20,000 largest corporations.
- Cogmap is an organizational chart wiki for companies and organizations. Do note that the information is self-reported and almost anyone can edit the content.