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What Kind of Company?
In general, it's easier to find information companies that trade on a stock exchange (public companies) or companies with large public profiles. The business databases will include articles about all types of companies.
Public companies and subsidiaries
- Consider the public company Yum Brands. You are probably more familiar with its subsidiaries, KFC, Pizza Hit and Taco Bell. There should be plenty of articles about these subsidiaries with their large public profiles.
- Public companies issue annual reports to shareholders. These reports are usually posted on company websites and at Securities and Exchange Commission
- Subdiaries don't usuallly offer separate reports
- Private companies don't have to issue annual reports and often can be more difficult to research. An example of a large private enterprise is Perdue Farms, Inc.
- There are sources that track non-profit organizations such as GuideStar
- It is easier to find information on non-profit organizations with large public profiles such as S. G. Komen for the Cure
Searching Corporate Webpages
For large companies, the corporate webpage should provide many ways to explore the organization and its culture. You may not always find these, but look for
- Information directed at investors
- Management structure
- Management Discussion ( in the 10-K report)
- Employee information and ethics
- Social responsibility statements and activities
- Partnerships with community and civic groups
- Press releases, videos
Use these sources for a quick overview of a company. Brief descriptions are good places to start along with a company's website. Expect find a brief description of a company's business, the names of executives and occasionally competitors. Each source below also has some unique features as noted.
Company Snapshot (LexisNexis)
Although this includes both public and private companies, more information will be available on public companies.
Mergent Online (through November 2013)
Mergent is a good source for US and international public companies. It includes company histories in addition to current and historical financial statements. Financial data is easily downloaded into a spreadsheet.
In addition to finding an overview of a company, Ref USA also allows you to make lists of companies based on several criteria such as location or industry.