MGMT 202: Perspectives on Business: Company Research

Resources for Company Research

Introduction to Business Research

Business research is different than many other forms of research. Many times you will need to piece together information from multiple resources—both print and online—to answer just one question. Much of the research you will do will focus on company and industry research. This guide will outline some of the resources and techniques for both.

If you need help with research or want more one on one help, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with me—I am more than happy to help.

There are some basic research tools and skills you will need for business research. Two of them are how to research a company and how to research an industry. These two areas often go hand in hand but you will often approach the topics and research from different angles for each assignment.

 

Company Research

Public or Private?
Before you research a company, find out if it is publicly traded, private, a subsidiary, or a division of a larger company. This can be found in by doing a search in an online Directory like Corporate Affiliations or an online search in Google Finance or Yahoo Finance. Wolfram Alpha has company information on both public and private companies, but back up what you find with another resource. 

Publicly-traded Companies
Financial information is important when researching a company. Any company with stock traded on an American exchange is required by the Security and Exchange Commission to file several reports a year. Reports filed with the SEC for US companies are available through EDGAR. Canadian companies are available through SEDAR. Several library resources, including Corporate Affiliations, Value Line, and have current financial information available, as do Google Finance, Yahoo Finance, and Wolfram Alpha. Value Line has in-depth and up-to-date financial information geared towards the investor and is an excellent source for company research. Mergent Online offers historical and current financials as well as company histories, statistics, and customized reports. An industry resource like IBISWorld  will have the most recent financial information on many companies.

Privately-traded Companies
Private companies are not required to file financial information and do not have to make this information available to the public. Hoover's Handbook of Private Companies will give some insight into private companies. Sometimes the best way to find information on a private company is by searching for articles. Try any of the general business databases. Also check the Corporate Affiliations, Business Source Complete and possibly Wolfram Alpha for more company information, including sales figures, SEC filings, contact information and subsidiaries.

Company Histories and Narratives
Descriptive overviews of companies—both public and private—are available in the Business Source Complete also has company reports from Datamonitor on both American and International private and public companies. ProQuest Newspapers has current and full-text access to Wall Street Journal and Business Source Complete has current news and information from numerous business publications. International company information is available in several sources, including the Corporate Affiliations and Mergent online.

Company web sites can be a font of information. Most public companies post their anual reports and a company history on their pages. However, some will make it difficult to find. Look for a link titled "Investment information" or "Information for Investors." We have older copies of International Directory of Company Histories . Some issues of International Directory of Company Histories is available online at Referenceforbusiness.com: alphabetical list of company histories and company histories by industry.

More company-related resources can by found by choosing "Company" from the list of Del.icio.us links to the left.

If you need to see how a company fits within its industry, see the Industry Research Guide for more information.