Skip to Main Content

Company Research

SEC Filings

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) and therefore disclose significant information about their finances and operations in the form of SEC filings.

The 10-K/Q have the most detail about a company's finances.

  • 10-K: The annual report submitted to the SEC for a U.S. publicly traded company. Here's how you read it.
  • 10-Q: The quarterly report submitted to the SEC for a U.S. publicly traded company.
  • 20-F: The equivalent of a 10-K for a foreign company trading on a US exchange.
  • 8-K: A form submitted when a materially important event happens at a company, so shareholders know about it.

For tax exempt organizations (Nonprofits), see Nonprofit Explorer and Cause IQ

Best Bets for Information about Public Companies

Best Bets for Information about Private Companies

When looking for information about a company, consider both information from the company itself (For example the company website or press releases) as well as information about the company written by others (Explore the Articles and News tab). For private companies, literature searches, company blogs, and interviews may be some of the best and only resources for locating information.

Information on private companies can be sparse. Private companies are not required to file any financial data in the U.S., with the exception of registration data filed with the Secretary of State, in the state where they are registered. Databases like Mergent Intellect, Data Axle, Orbis and PrivCo have some basic data on U.S. private companies. Often 'local press' have more stories on locally based companies than national newspapers.