Tracking down corporate information can feel like searching for a needle in a large haystack, especially if you're dealing with a small private firm with no history of public disclosures.
Market research publishers like The Freedonia Group, Packaged Facts, and Simba Information – all divisions of MarketResearch.com – employ business intelligence analysts that are trained to source and verify high-level company research, dedicating weeks of time and effort to ensuring their competitor data is top notch.
However, with a little know-how, it is possible to do your own basic company research. With that in mind, here are a few important resources to get you started.
1. U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission Filings
For public companies, the best source for comprehensive information about a company’s segment structure, financials, global operations, and recent acquisitions and divestitures is usually an SEC filing. These can include the following:
- Form 10-K: An annual report that encompasses detailed financial and operations information for the full twelve months of a company’s fiscal year.
- Form 10-Q: A quarterly report with information about the most preceding 3-month fiscal quarter.
- Form 8-K: A broader report that can detail unscheduled corporate events or changes that might be of importance to shareholders.
The most recent reports for all publicly listed companies can be found through EDGAR, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission's filings database.
2. Investor Presentations & Press Releases
Sometimes, the information in an investor filing might not be detailed or recent enough, especially if you’re nearing the end of the fiscal year. To fill in the gaps, investor presentations can be key sources for corporate intelligence. At times, public (and, occasionally, private) companies will include more granular geographic or operational information in an investor presentation or brochure, even if it’s not available in an annual or quarterly report.
In addition to investor information, both public and private companies often announce important corporate developments like acquisitions and divestitures via their news and press pages. Press releases are generally the best source for up-to-the-minute information about a company’s goings-ons, even if they aren’t always as in-depth as an investor report or presentation will be.
3. News Aggregators
Looking for breaking corporate news as it happens? If so, consider setting up an alert through Google News or another news service related to the firm – or firms – you’re covering. That way, you’ll be notified of important corporate developments in real time, and you’ll never be out of the loop regarding major industry disruptions and shakeups.
4. Trade Publications
When you’re dealing with market participants, trade publications can be incredibly useful for sourcing company information. Industry-specific journals often profile leading or fast-growing manufacturers or service providers, and they generally employ reporters and editorial staff with a broader base of industry knowledge than that of other publications.
Some trade publications will also publish annual lists of top market participants – a useful tool if you’re just setting out to learn about the top players in an industry with which you're unfamiliar.
5. Corporate Information Sites
Corporate information aggregators like D&B Hoovers, Owler, and IncFact (just to name a few) can serve as a crucial starting point when it comes to business information discovery. For private companies, sales figures are often tough to find and tougher to verify, so even having a broad idea of a company’s size can help you in your quest to draw a more accurate picture of it's activities.
Though many of these sites are subscription-based, they do generally provide a limited amount of free information for budget-conscious researchers.
6. Market Research Reports
Perhaps your interest in a company is rooted in curiosity about the overall market in which it participates. In that case, your best bet might be a full-scale industry study, which will often feature profiles and detailed information about leading industry manufacturers and distributors. For example, studies from The Freedonia Group, Packaged Facts, and Simba Information typically include more comprehensive market share and company/competitor information beyond what you could unearth via a simple web search.
Though market research reports are costlier resources, you might find the investment worthwhile for the time savings alone. These reports are also useful beyond the breadth of company information they include, additionally offering nuanced forecasts and trend information.
Want to Learn More About DIY Market Research?
For more insights on practical techniques that can help you perform your own basic market research, check out "The 5 Keys to Estimating Market Size for Strategic Decision Making", a white paper from The Freedonia Group. This white paper can help you determine how to:
- define the market scope
- select relevant primary and secondary resources
- use top-down analysis and/or bottom-up analysis
- develop forecasts for future market size