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Company Research

Strategies and resources for conducting research on a company's financials, operations, and industry environment

Adjunct Faculty, Library

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Rebecca Sedam

How much company information will you find?

The amount of company information you can gather depends on factors such as:Photograph shows a fleet of Ford motorcars in rows ready for delivery inside plant.

  • Status – Is the company public, a subsidiary, or private?
  • Size – Is the company large or small? 
  • Geography – Where is the company located?
  • Visibility – How often and how prominently is the company featured in the media?

Caufield & Shook, C. C. Ford Motor delivery department, ca. 1925. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Familiarize yourself with these important company research terms

Public Company – A public company is a company that issues securities or shares of stock for the public. Those who purchase these securities or shares become investors in and owners of the company. This process is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and public companies must file numerous financial and other reports with the SEC. Because these reports are public information, much data and information can be found when researching public companies. For more information, visit the SEC website at

Private Company – A private company is one that is owned by an individual, family, or group of partners. The amount of information that private companies must report is limited, and much of that is confidential. Thus, it is often difficult to find much information on a private company.

Subsidiary – A company which is owned in whole or in part by another company. When researching a subsidiary, it is often advantageous to also research the owning company or the parent company.

NAICS Code – The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) uses six-digit codes to identify an industry. The NAICS system is gradually replacing the SIC system. Many resources use these codes to identify a company’s activities, index companies by activity, and to define industry data and information. For more information on the history and structure of the NAICS, as well as to search for codes, visit the NAICS Association website at and the U.S. Census Bureau at

SIC Code – Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes are four-digit codes used to identify an industry. Many resources use these codes to identify a company’s activities, index companies by activity, and to define industry data and information. For information on the history of the SIC codes and information about its replacement, the NAICS, visit the NAICS Association website at An excellent website for a list of SIC codes and to search for a code is the OSHA site from the U.S. Department of Labor at

"Important terms" by BRASS is licensed under CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license / Slightly modified from original; emphasis added.