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Business Research

Types of Companies

Knowing whether the company you want to research is public or private is important when researching. Ultimately, it will determine where you should look for information and how much you're likely to find on your company. Keep in mind:

Public companies

  • issue stock
  • ​are traded under abbreviations known as ticker symbols
  • are sometimes called publicly traded companies 
  • ​are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to file regular financial reports and other documents
  • lots of information available, on the company's website and other business websites and in subscription databases 

Private companies (or subsidiaries of public companies)

  • may issue stock and have shareholders, but their shares do not trade on public exchanges and are not issued through an initial public offering (Investopedia, 2019)
  • ​are not required by regulatory bodies like the SEC to reveal any information about themselves
  • it may not be possible to find out much about them, beyond what they post on their websites
  • ​articles in trade journals and newspapers can be good sources of information 

Non-Profit companies

  • can be private foundations or public charities
  • are required to submit IRS documents called "Form 990"--these documents disclose names of key leaders as well as their financial position

Databases provided by Vogel

Internet Resources

Tips for Reading Annual Reports

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