Subject Research Guides

Company Research Guide

When to Use This Guide

Use this guide when you need information about a specific company. It provides resources for finding background information, financial information, and market share data.

Finding General or Background Information About a Company

Finding background information about a company often starts with researching an industry. It is always useful to get the big picture first because the company you research coexists and competes with other companies in the same or related areas of business. Be sure to use our Industry Research Guide in addition to this one.

Background information about companies is largely available online. Begin your search with the following resources.

Finding Financial Data About a Company

Keep two things in mind when searching for financial data:

  • There may be little information available about private or not-for-profit companies (as opposed to publicly traded companies). Be sure to use the PrivCo database listed below to see if your company is listed there.
  • SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) 10-K disclosures (reports) constitute the foundation for companies' annual reports to their shareholders.

Try the following resources:

  • Business Insights: Essentials
    Search by company name, then select "Financials" from the side menu.

  • PrivCo
    The PrivCo database presents business and financial data on major privately-held companies, including family owned, private equity owned, venture backed, and international unlisted companies. PrivCo covers over 225,000 companies, providing information on finances. Search by company name.

  • Value Line Investment Survey
    Use for finding stock prices for particular companies.

    The SEC’s online database of financial data about publicly traded companies. Follow the "Search for Company Filings" link.

  • LexisNexis Academic
    In the left-hand column under the "Companies" heading, you can limit your search to SEC Filings or to Company Dossier where you can search by company and choose "Financial Information."

  • GuideStar
    Use for finding financial information for not-for-profit companies; includes IRS forms 990. Free registration is required.

  • Foundation Center 990 Finder
    Look here for financial data for non-profit organizations from their IRS form 990.

Finding Market Share Information

You need two sets of data to find out a company's market share: your company's production and the industry output. The following information is needed:

  • Defined geographic area (for example, global or national market)
  • Defined product or service (for example, publishing industry vs. software publishers; food and beverage stores vs. supermarkets)
  • Defined unit of measurement (for example, sales, shipments, production in terms of value or quantity). Sometimes the unit of measurement is specific to the given industry, like RPMs or "revenue passenger miles" for airlines.

Note also that sometimes market share is referred to as “demand” for the company/industry products or services, where demand represents customers’ willingness to buy.

Company Production

Information about sales or production can be found in the company (consolidated) balance sheet, which is an essential part of the company disclosure. Look in an Annual Report or an SEC 10-K (see the previous section of this guide for sources).

Industry Output

You can find information about industry output in:

In addition, consider which government agency might have data about the industry you are researching. For example, for airlines, you might try Bureau of Transportation Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Market Share Data

There are two ways of finding direct data on market share in Business Insights: Essentials:

  • Search Market Share Reporter or World Market Share Reporter.
    In "Advanced Search," choose "Rankings" in "Content Type" and include one of the above titles as "Publication Title" (or search across all rankings for your company name, industry description, etc.). Remember that both publications list only selected market share rankings.
  • Search the database by company. In the company record, choose "Rankings" or "Market Share Reports" from the side menu.

You can find international and some U.S. market share data for selected industries in Passport GMID (Global Market Information Database).

Finding Articles and News About Companies

Business Insights: Essentials
Search by company and then follow the link to "Recent News" from within the company record.

Business Source Complete
Drop-down menus allow you to combine a variety of terms and limit your search to a company, NAICS code, person, etc.

LexisNexis Academic
Search by company in the "Get Company Info" section and choose "In the News."

Consider checking news sources in the same location as the company. If the company is located in the Bay Area, you might check the following newspapers in the Bowman Library:
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Business Times
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal

Check for local newspapers available in a company's area through Newspaper Source.

Selected Web Sites

EDGAR at Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
SEC’s EDGAR is a searchable database of various company reports, including 10-K and prospectuses. Every publicly traded company is required by law to submit a detailed annual report (on a form “10-K”). This report becomes the foundation for the company’s Annual Report to Shareholders. A prospectus is a summary of information (financial, product, corporate history, assessment of competition, etc.) filed by a private company that is planning to become publicly traded.

ThomasNet is an industrial search engine for industrial buyers, a one-step source for finding the exact product, service, or supplier they need. You can search by company name or product and limit your search to a region. Brief company profiles include contact information and short product descriptions. This site covers Canadian companies as well as U.S.

Page Last Updated: July 31 2015

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Research Tips

These Research Guides have been prepared by librarians to assist with your research. Read more:

Evaluating Web Resources

Critically Analyzing Information Sources

Searching Electronic Resources Effectively

For more information on citation style, see:

Citing Your Research

Related Guides

Industry Research Guide

Country Research Guide

Business Ethics Guide

Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Enterprise Research Guide