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Business research guide for TWU students, faculty and staff.

Finding Information on Companies

Finding Information on Companies

Tracking down information on businesses can be a tedious and time-consuming process. The TWU Libraries have many resources to aid you in your search. The vast amount of information on the Internet has made this task easier, but information from the web requires more evaluation than library resources. With so many resources at your disposal, it is important that you keep accurate records of which items you have used during your search.

Basic information about a business is helpful in determining what information you will find and which resources to use. The most important two pieces of information about a company that have a direct impact on the availability of information about it are:

  • Is the company publicly or privately owned?
  • Is the company a subsidiary of a larger corporation?

Many resources only provide information about publicly-owned companies: those companies listed on one of the major stock exchanges. Public companies are required to submit reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These reports often are used as the basis for company descriptions in business reference sources. The full SEC reports themselves are available separately.

Privately-owned companies are not required to submit reports to the SEC and information about their financial and operational conditions is often difficult to find. Few business reference sources provide company profiles of privately-owned businesses beyond basic information. Information often must be pieced together from various news sources.  Information from the Internet, used with careful evaluation, is often the best source for information about privately-owned companies.

Subsidiaries pose additional problems. It may be necessary to search for information on the larger corporation to find information about the subsidiary.

Financial information about the subsidiary many not be separated from its parent company.


Company Profiles

Company Profiles provide summary information about the financial and corporate health of companies. These often include information about a company's historical development, its subsidiaries, its branch corporate offices, its stock performance [for publicly-held corporations], its corporate structure, and its finances. 

Business Source Complete - SWOT and company name

Nexis Uni- Get Company Info - over 80 million companies

Annual Reports

Corporate Annual Reports are important sources of information about companies. Many company web sites provide their annual report. Look for investor information. Databases like LexisNexis Academic - Company Dossier, LexisNexis Academic - Company Profiles and Mergent Online provide access to the SEC Edgar Database that includes SEC filings. These are companies that are required to file and most are US public companies. This is the authoritative source for these documents.

Other Annual Report resources

Internet Resources for Company Information

Non-Profit Organizations

North American Industry Classification System Code

Links to NAICS, SIC, SOC
Standard Industrial Classification Search, Standard Occupational Classification System

Quick guide to Business Databases – Companies

What do you need?   Select the databases below.

Company Profile                                             Journal articles 
Business Insights Essentials                              Business Source Complete 
LexisNexis – Get Company Info                          Emerald Management Xtra
                                                                        Regional Business News
                                                                        Wall Street Journal

Intern’l- LexisNexis                                          Market Reports
U.S. - - Mergent Online                                    Business Source Complete 
            Business Insights Essentials                Business Insights Essentials

Investment Analysis                                       Market Share 
Business Insights Essentials                           Business Insights Essentials

History                                                          SWOT analysis 
Business Insights Essentials                          Business Source Complete 
                                                                    Business Insights Essentials


Databases for Company Information

  • Business & Company Resource Center 
    Plus – Quick company profile; market share information; industry information; financials can be downloaded
    Minus – Financial data is mostly stock related; some information is dated
  •  Business Source Complete  and  Business Source Complete (Enhanced Search Interface)
    Use the Enhanced Search Interface to quickly retrieve Company Profiles, Industry Profiles and Market Research Reports.
    Plus – Best source for full text articles; SWOT analysis. 
    Minus – Financial information limited
  • LexisNexis Academic - Company Profiles
    Plus – Wide coverage, especially International and news sources
    Minus – Too much data and too many sources, although the Company Dossier via Business Search helps
  • Wall Street Journal  
    Plus – Trusted business newpaper with national scope
    Minus – Text coverage only 
  • Mergent Online (Moody's Manuals)  
    Plus – Trusted data that can be easily downloaded
    Minus – Only US Public Companies (TWU subscription)  
  • Emerald Management Xtra (Full Text)
    Plus – Scholarly and international coverage in full-text
    Minus – Limited number of journals 
  • Newspaper sources
    Regional Business News
    Newspapers– Sometimes only source for privately owned companies
    Minus – Most full text is html rather than images of the original article

Private Companies


Directories provide basic contact information [addresses, telephone numbers, lists of executives] about companies. Some directories may add a little information about the nature of the business, the number of employees, subsidiaries, and net worth.  Databases and the Internet  provide this information.  Company websites often provide various levels of contact and information about the company.