Finding Company Information

by BROOME_SG — last modified 2013-07-11T12:43:51-04:00

This guide is intended to serve as a starting point for researching company information using both online and print resources available through Tarver Library.

I. Basic Facts about a Company

There are some basic questions to ask before conducting research on a company. Answers to these questions guide you to locate the appropriate type of sources.

  • Is the company public or private?
  • Is this an American company or an international company?
  • Is this a local/small company?
  • Is the company a parent or a subsidiary?
  • What type of information do you want to look for? Company directory? Company history? Company products and key competitors?

II. Ticker Symbols

Ticker symbols are letters used to uniquely identify a publicly traded company and are used to quickly locate stock price and company information in business databases.

Yahoo! Ticker Symbol Lookup
This free website allows you to look up ticker symbols in stock markets around the world.

ABI/INFORM Complete (ProQuest)
ABI/INFORM Complete provides in-depth articles from a wide variety of trade and business journals. Select Advanced Search, type the company name in the search box, select Ticker symbol field, then limit to the database: Hoover's Company Records.

III. Types of Companies

Most companies are classified as either "public" or "private." Use a directory to determine whether a company is public, private, or non-profit.

Public companies are companies that sell stock to the general public and are legally required to meet public disclosure requirements of the federal government's Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC). There is a great deal of information available on public companies.

Private companies do not sell stock to the public and are usually owned by individuals. They are not legally required to release any information about their activities. Therefore, very little information is available on private companies.

Please look in local and state newspapers for private company information or visit the company's web site. See Business Filings Databases for links to the offices of the Secretary of State where companies usually register and provide information about their operations.

Non-Profit is a great web site to look for non-profit organizations.

Parent vs. Subsidiary
A parent company is a top-level organization unit and information on a parent company is easy to find. Subsidiaries and divisions are a smaller part of a parent company. Information for a subsidiary is usually folded into the parent's company's information. It is difficult to research subsidiaries.

IV. Company Directories

Directories provide basic information for a company including the company name, address, telephone number, a list of key personnel or company officers, and some financial information. Directories also help to find out if it is a public or private company, and determines competitors.

Georgia Business Directory Reference, HF 5065 .G4 G46
This two-volume directory extensively lists Georgia businesses and provides basic contact information. Volume 1 is organized by city, with name of principal officer, approximate sales, and number of employees. Volume 2 is arranged by yellow page category and SIC code.

Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives Reference, HG 4057 .A4
This two-volume standard directory lists 75,000 public and private corporations and 290,000 officers, directors, and other principals, plus 68,000 biographical sketches of top-level managers. Corporate listings include a business description, annual sales, subsidiary listings and much more.

Ward's Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public Companies Reference, HG 4057 .A575
Ward's Business Directory lists basic company information on 114,500 companies. Entries include name, address, phone number, contacts, industrial classifications, sales, number of employees, and ticker symbol. It is published in 8 volumes and includes 3 volumes of alphabetic entries and 5 index volumes. Indexes include geographic, sales by state and SIC, sales by SIC, and sales by NAICS.

GeorgiaNet - Georgia Corporate Search (Secretary of State Records)
This searchable directory lists all organizations or individuals licensed for business by the Georgia Secretary of State. Information provided for each license holder includes: address, chief executive officer, secretary, and chief financial officer.

Thomas Register of American Manufacturers (Free registration required) is the most comprehensive directory of North American manufacturers and products, listing over 650,000 suppliers.

Thomas Global Register (Free registration required)
Thomas Global Register is the most complete, up-to-date directory of worldwide industrial Information from over 700,000 suppliers in 11 languages from 28 countries.

V. Company Profiles

Company profiles provide a wide variety of information including company's history, primary line of business, products and operations, business strategies, competitors, and historical financial information.

Hoover's Handbook of American Business Reference, HG 4057 .A28617
This comprehensive volume contains in-depth profiles of 750 of America's largest and most influential companies, including a concise statement of the nature of the business, its history and the products and services it delivers.

Hoover's Handbook of Emerging Companies Reference, HG 4057 .A28618
This book contains in-depth profiles of America's 200 most exciting growth enterprises.

Hoover's Handbook of Private Companies Reference, HG 4057 .A28616
This volume covers 900 nonpublic U.S. enterprises including large industrial and service corporations.

Business Source Complete Business Searching Interface (EBSCO)
Business Source Complete provides full text for over 2,345 journals covering all aspect of business. In the advanced search interface, quick access is available to company profiles, country reports, industry profiles, market research reports, SWOT analyses, and articles.

LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Academic contains approximately 5,000 publications, virtually all include full text. To locate company profiles or annual reports in LexisNexis, select "Business" from the left side of the page and then choose Company Profiles to search.

VI. Company History

A company profile usually includes the history of the company. Please use the resources listed above.

Business Source Complete Business Searching Interface (EBSCO)
Business Source Complete includes histories for approximately 10,120 largest companies. Select "Company Profile", click on the hyperlink for your company and then click on "PFD Complete Report".

Mergent Online
Mergent Online provides access to extensive business and financial information on over 15,000 U.S. public companies and over 20,000 non-U.S. public companies from approximately 100 countries. Limited to 2 concurrent users. Off-campus access requires a password. Please contact the reference desk at (478) 301-2055 for information.

VII. Company Competitors

A company profile usually includes information about competitors. Please use the databases listed above.

Business Source Complete Business Searching Interface (EBSCO)
Business Source Complete contains "Company Profile" for approximately 10,120 largest companies.

Hoover's Company Capsules & Profiles (ProQuest)
Hoover's Company Capsules & Profiles includes brief information on 15,000 companies, including an overview of company operations, addresses, phone and fax numbers, names of key officers, a list of top competitors, sales and employment figures, and stock symbols.

VIII. Company Financials & Annual Reports

Most annual reports can be found on the company web site.

EDGAR Database
EDGAR, the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system, provides free access to full-text of U. S. public corporation documents filed with U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including 10-K and 10-Q reports.

LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Academic is a full text comprehensive financial database that can be accessed for information on companies and industries. Choose "Business" from the left side of the page and select Company Financial Reports or SEC Filings.

Mergent Online
Mergent Online provides access to extensive business and financial information.

Yahoo! Finance
Yahoo! Finance provides extensive stock information, business and earnings announcement summaries, and financial statistics and ratios for over 9,000 public companies.

IX. Company Rankings

Rankings compare companies to each other within designated categories. Three general types of rankings are financial, geographic and market rankings.

Value Line Investment Survey: Rankings & Reports Reference Low Shelf, HG4501.V27
The Value Line Investment Survey is a comprehensive source of information and advice on approximately 1,700 stocks, more than 90 industries, the stock market, and the economy.

Inc. 5000
Inc. magazine produces the Inc. 5000, a list of the nation's fastest-growing private companies.

X. Company News

ABI/INFORM Complete (ProQuest)
ABI/INFORM Complete provides full text for over 2,000 U.S. and international journals covering all aspect of business and management. ABI/INFORM Complete is a complete database comprised of ABI/INFORM Global, Dateline, and Trade & Industry sub-sets.

LexisNexis Academic
Select the "Guided News Search" tab and then select "Business News".

New York Times & Wall Street Journal via Proquest Newspapers
This database offers full-text articles from New York Times (coverage:1980-current) and from Wall Street Journal (coverage:1984-current).