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Company Research

This guide lists database and internet resources for company research.

Research Tips

  • ​​Be sure to research the official name of the company. Many companies have popular names that may not be listed anywhere. For example, 3M is really Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing.
    • If the company is a personal name or includes initials, e.g. Walt Disney or H. J. Heinz, look under each part of the name. Various sources are not consistent in how names are treated.
    • If the company name is a common word such as Apple or Amazon and you tend to retrieve articles about rivers (Amazon) or fruit (Apple), try adding in Inc. or Corp. after the name. 
    • Companies sometimes change their names, so be sure to look under multiple possible company names. For example, cigarette maker Phillip Morris changed its name to Altria. 
  • If you are researching a subsidiary, expand your research to include the parent corporation. For example, Google is under its parent company Alphabet. 
  • Very small or very new companies may not appear in the standard sources, particularly print sources. Look for news articles and a company website. Use regional or specialized industry directories that may be available.
  • Make sure the source you are searching includes private or international companies. Some sources only have publicly traded companies, so smaller and private companies will not be included.
  • Financial ratios and industry averages are useful for comparing a company with its industry for benchmarking purposes.
  • Make sure to check the company website. Look at the Investor Relations tab for presentations to market analysts. These types of presentations may discuss products or subsidiaries. 
  • Trade journals, magazines, and newspapers are excellent sources for the latest business news and trends, and can sometimes be the only source for private company information.
  • Information for Nonprofits can be found in the databases Charity Navigator and GuideStar.
  • Rankings & Ratings – locating information about a company’s market standing, performance or reputation will help determine if it is a leader or innovator.
  • Social Media sites are sources of informal and supplementary company information.
  • Explore visuals for company information that is not printed. These can be interviews with company executives and staff, product demos, tours, etc.
  • Intellectual Property – Patents are part of the legal area called intellectual property that also includes trademarks, trade secrets, and copyright. Patents provide insight into a company’s culture, business opportunities, research and development direction and market expansion plans.
  • Legal case information may provide information about a company’s internal operations and stakeholders. Major case litigation is disclosed in company U.S. SEC 10K reports and the press.
  • Resources related to business ethics and to other topics such as corporate governance, sustainability “green” shopping, etc. can be found in the Sustainable Businesses section.