Types of Companies
The first step of company research is to determine what type of company it is:
There is a great deal of information available on companies which trade on the stock market - SEC filings, annual reports, analysts' reports, news stories, books and case studies.
Information on private companies is usually limited to brief information in directories, news stories, and sometimes books. All 50 states make some level of corporate and business filings available online, see Business Filings Databases for links to the states.
The amount of information on international companies varies. If the company trades on the U.S. exchanges it must file annual reports (20-F) with the SEC. Other information can be found in directories, databases, newspapers and magazines.
Finances and other general information can be found in Form 990 which nonprofits must file with the IRS annually. Many are posted on the web at Guidestar.org. Some information can also be found in newspaper and journal articles.
What is a ticker symbol?
A ticker symbol is an abbreviation that symbolizes the companies' stock name. For example, Cisco Systems has CSCO as its ticker symbol. Find the ticker symbol for a company.
Knowing the ticker symbol (or stock symbol) of the public company that you are researching can save you a lot of time.