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Business Resources: Research a Company

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S.G. Maldonado-Velez
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Research a Company

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How to Research Private Companies

Since private companies do not have to disclose financial information to the government, researching them can be tricky.  If you're persistent and creative, you might be able to find what you need.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Start with the company's website.  Look for "About Us" information and links to news articles and other public information. Depending on your assignment, you may even consider contacting the company directly to ask for information.
  • Every state maintains a list of companies that are registered to do business there.  Use this Secretaries of State list to find the website for the state you're interested in, then look for a company search option.
  • Look up your company in newspapers, especially local papers that might have done a profile or review of the business. Try looking for journal articles if the company has made a big impact on its industry or region.

Using Government Filings

The federal government of the United States monitors commerce through its Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). All public companies and some private companies are required to file periodic financial and business disclosure forms with the SEC.  These forms are part of the public record, so anyone may view them.

The most common reports are the 10-K (annual report) and 10-Q (quarterly report).  These reports include information about products, markets, distribution channels, foreign operations, sales, and other matters. You can view all the different types of SEC reports here.

SEC filings can be searched through EDGAR. It's easiest to search by company, but you can explore other search options as well.