Group Project: Research a Major Company
Use this guide and the above tabs as a navigation tool for discovering library and internet resources for your research project.
Before you start ---
When doing research on specific companies it is important to establish from the beginning whether the company is:
- public or private?
- a subsidiary or joint venture?
Public or Private
Determining whether a company is public or private will be helpful in determining your research strategy. You will look in different places for information on a public company as opposed to a privately owned one.
- Public company Information?
Public companies sell their shares on the stock market. They are legally obligated to disclose financial information to their shareholders and to legislative bodies.
To fulfill this obligation Public companies produce reports, which are sent to the shareholders and filed with regulatory bodies like the Canadian Securities Administrators or the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission.
The company SEC filings are a crucial source of financial information and acts as a basis for historic analysis and forecasting. They contain not only the company's financial statements, tables, notes, and management reports, but also anything else that the company is required to disclose.
- Private company Information?
Companies that are not public are referred to as private. These are the companies that do not trade on stock exchange.
It can be very difficult to research private companies. You may need to research a similar public company or search for information about the industry, its market size, key players, mergers and acquisitions, costs, profitability etc. You can then use this general information as a guide to formulate the specifics regarding your individual company.
Parent Company Name
You should know the correct spelling and the complete name of the company you are researching. It can be difficult to do detailed research on a company that is a subsidiary of another company, so you will want to find the name of the parent company and research the parent company. Companies are bought and sold frequently so be sure your information is accurate and current.
If the company you are researching is a public company, you should know the stock or ticker symbol. Finding company information is much easier if you know the ticker symbol for the company. A ticker symbol is an abbreviation that symbolizes the companies' stock name. For example, Cisco Systems has CSCO as its ticker symbol.
Many research tools let you search by ticker symbol. You can locate ticker symbols by
- Investigate the website of the company. Many times this information is available under links like company information or investor information.
- Investigate the websites for major U.S. stock exchanges (NASDAQ, NYSE)
- Searching websites like MSN's Money page or Big Charts
- If the company is privately held, it will not be on an exchange. You will not find a ticker symbol.