Photograph of John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History 1919 From the Duke Digital Collection.
It is easier to find information about public companies (those that sell stock to shareholders) than about private companies (those that are privately owned by an individual or a group). Public companies in the United States are required by law to file documents with the Securities and Exchange commission (SEC). These include the 10K (annual)and 10Q (quarterly) reports. In addition, public companies issue an annual report to shareholders.
When looking for information about a company, consider both information from the company itself (e.g., the company website, SEC filings, press releases, etc.) as well as information about the company written by others (e.g., newspaper articles, analyst reports, articles by professors, etc.).
Finding information about a company includes the following steps:
Company web sites can provide a wealth of information, particularly for public companies. Look for press releases, investor information including presentations and events and filings such as SEC filings, annual reports or corporate social responsibility or "community" reports. Use information from the company carefully and watch for bias or an overly-optimistic interpretation of factual data.
Look here for expert opinions on companies:
Information on private companies can be sparse. Private companies are not required to file any financial data in the U.S., with exception of registraton data filed with the Secretary of State, in the state where they are registerd. Databases like Hoovers and Reference USA have some basic data on private companies; Capital IQ (in-Library access only) also has some information Often 'local press' have more stories on a locally based company than national newspapers. (e.g. San Jose Mercury news versus The New York Times). Local newspapers can be found on Proquest, LexisNexis Academic or Factiva.
Try these sites if you cannot locate the annual report you need at the company web site or using Duke databases. You may need to purchase the report from these sources.