Public Company Research Tips

Read these 22 Public Company Research Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Business Research tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How should I choose a commercial business information provider?

What to Look For in a Business Information Provider

If you've decided it's too much work to do the information retrieval yourself, even for United States companies that are publicly traded, you will need to decide which provider you're going to use to give you the information. There are hundreds of providers out there with information to sell. Here are some things to think about before making up your mind: * Consider how much you plan to use the business information service. There are basically two kinds of business models. Some charge monthly or yearly for unlimited access. Others charge by the download. If you will be using the service a lot -- more than a few times per month -- it's worth considering a monthly or annual plan. Otherwise, it's much cheaper to purchase by the download. * Remember there's so much information available to anyone about publicly traded United States companies that many commercial providers will offer basically the same information. So base some of your decision on factors like customer service and pricing, too. * If you're going to be looking for information on private companies, too, consider this before making a purchase: Whereas many information providers share the same information about public companies, it's much more difficult to get serious financial data from a private company. So it might be worthwhile to search out a provider with a big database of profiles on privately owned businesses.

   
What are publicly traded US companies required to release?

EDGAR Tells All About Public United States Companies

United States companies that sell publicly traded stock are required by the federal government to release specific financial and general information about the company quarterly and annually. This information includes financial statements, as well as up-to-date contact information for company officers. All of this is available in the federal government's free EDGAR database. But this public information is only part of the story. To get more detailed business information and analysis, you need to access a commercial business information publisher, like Manta.com

   
What happens when a private company goes public?

Good News and Bad News

When a private company goes public, there's good and bad news for anyone attempting to get business intelligence out of the company. The good news is that once a company goes public, it will be required by the federal government to publicly release financial information on a quarterly and annual basis. The bad news is that after announcing plans to go public and before the IPO, businesses enter a mandated "quiet period" when they are not allowed to release information. Manta.com is backed by industry information experts like D&B and Icon, who know how to get the most possible information out of private companies, and then follow them through the IPO process, with professional reporting and analysis.

   
How can I do public company research?

Ask EDGAR

Public companies doing business in the US are required to release financial data on a quarterly and yearly basis. All of this information is available online in the SEC's EDGAR database. This is a great place to start if you're looking to do public company research. Also, try to find the company's annual report, and check for recent news articles about the company in online archives. You can also purchase a company profile from a business information publisher.

   
What about research on international companies?

Company Research by Country

One of the great things about using the Internet as a business research tool is how it sorts data in unique ways, saving serious research time in the process. A good example of this is if you're searching for data on international companies. Say you have a product to sell to African countries, or to China, or Japan. Now, thanks to the Internet, you can simply find a commercial business information online provider that segments its company research by company, as well as by names and by industry. Click on the link for Africa or China, for example, and all the profiles of companies doing business in these areas will come up on the page, making it very convenient to find the information you need.
Need information on a company located outside of the United States? Conduct a company research by country query through a business research company like Manta, and get company profile information, market analysis and financial data for an overseas business.

   
What about state and local government sources?

Don't Forget State and Local Sources

All United States companies -- public or private -- are required to file with the Secretary of State in the state where the business was incorporated, and sometimes with municipal authorities as well. These filings are not nearly so detailed, especially in terms of finances, as federal SEC filings, but can still reveal some good information, including articles of incorporation and names and contact information for company officers. Check the company web site for incorporation information. Once you know where the business is incorporated, check that Secretary of State's web site to see how you can access the information.

   
How can I do public company research?

Ask EDGAR

Public companies doing business in the US are required to release financial data on a quarterly and yearly basis. All of this information is available online in the SEC's EDGAR database. This is a great place to start if you're looking to do public company research. Also, try to find the company's annual report, and check for recent news articles about the company in online archives. You can also purchase a company profile from a business information publisher.

   
Where can I find international sales leads?

Get Sales Leads: Locally, Nationally and Internationally

If you've got a web site that is e-commerce enabled, you can sell to anyone from anywhere at any time. Of course, you need to get the word out about your web site -- locally, nationally and internationally. Manta.com can be your resource for all of these needs. You can do company research by country, by industry, company name, or the original publisher of the business information. Manta.com uses four leading publishers to build its online database of millions of company profiles and industry analyses. And with Manta.com's tiered, by-the-download pricing plan, you can obtain contact names and numbers for as low as $9.95 per download.

   
Where can I do company research by country?

Don't Forget to Look at International Businesses

The Internet has made all business local business, for United States companies and those around the world. So if you're doing business research, you'll want to make sure you spend some time doing company research by country. Manta.com makes it easy to search by country, as well as by company name, type of industry or even the business publisher who originally provided the information. This way, anyone interested in looking for business intelligence from around the world, as well as across the counry, will find it easy to obtain.

   
How should I choose a business information provider?

How to Choose the Right Business Information Service

So you've decided to use a commercial business information provider to help you gather business intelligence on United States companies. How do you know which provider to use? Manta.com has two key attractions. First, Manta.com uses four leading publishers of business information -- D&B, Icon, Snapdata and Datamonitor -- giving Manta.com a large and varied database filled with millions of United States companies and millions more from around the world. Second, Manta.com doesn't charge any monthly or annual fees. You pay by the download for content you decide to use.

   
Why pay for information on publicly traded United States companies?

Public Information and a Lot More

If there's so much information available on publicly traded United States companies from EDGAR and other free sources, why pay for a commercial service like Manta.com? Easy. Manta.com uses leading publishers of business information, like Icon and D&B, who prepare business information reports, profiles and analysis that use both public information and information obtained through private sources. Manta.com's information is much more complete and includes analysis and forecasting. And with information downloads starting at only $9.95, the price is right, too.

   
Can I get useful information from a corporate web site?

Check the Company Web Site First

Before you go to all the trouble of doing EDGAR research on a United States company, or paying for help from a commercial business information provider, consider this: Some publicly traded United States companies make the same information they give the SEC and other government regulators available on their own corporate web sites. So if you're doing business research on a publicly traded United States company, check the corporate site first.

   
How can I look up financial information about a public company?

Help From EDGAR

You can see any electronic documents that United States companies that file with the SEC relatively simply by using the SEC EDGAR searchable online database. Available from the SEC web site, EDGAR can search by company name and latest filings. You can also find company and mutual fund prospectuses and lots more information. The SEC has even recently begun using RSS feeds to allow anyone to be notified when a company of interest files new data. So you don't even have to go to the web site looking for new information - it can come directly to you.

   
What information can I get from a public company that I can't get from a private company?

Real Financial Data Available to Public

SEC requirements make it a lot easier to get real financial data at no cost about any United States companies that are publicly traded. The SEC is supposed to make sure that publicly traded companies publish significant information about the company to help U.S. investors and watch for fraud. To do this, the SEC requires the following information on any publicly traded company be released at least annually: * A description of the company's properties and business. * A description of securities to be offered for sale. * Information about the management of the company. * Quarterly and annual financial statements certified by independent accountants. It's not impossible to get similar numbers from a private company. But since the SEC requires these details about publicly traded United States companies be made available to anyone for free, it's a lot easier to get the details without having to pay a commercial business information provider to do it for you.

   
Why is it easier to get information about a public company?

Public Company = Easier Access to Business Information

Anyone trying to develop business profiles of United States companies gets a break, especially if the companies are publicly traded. Any publicly traded company is required to file information yearly with the SEC, as well as make quarterly and annual public financial reports. This is good news for anyone seeking business information about a public company, especially if you don't want to pay a commercial business information provider. All you have to do is access any number of public information sources to get specific financial information about the company. The SEC's EDGAR database is one of the best-known sources of information on United States companies, but there are also other public databases and reports with lots of business information available.
Searching for information on United States companies is easy, but depending on the type of information you want it might be worth your while to hire a business research company like Manta. While many public companies are required to register with the SEC and make their earnings public, you can get more detailed information on United States companies financial information, credit scores, and company profiles through a business solutions provider.

   
What about bulletin boards, forums and blogs?

Pay Attention to Uncontrolled Information

Publicly traded United States companies are generally financed well enough to have hired professionals to carefully control the flow of information released by the company. These companies may have to release SEC-required information, but getting any other newsworthy information is tough unless the company wants it out. This is where unofficial Internet sources like blogs, forums and bulletin boards can be very helpful. These Internet sites are often popular with employees, ex-employees and stockholders, and can be filled with juicy insider information. It's not always accurate, so verification is key. But tune in regularly and you'll almost always find something worth your attention.

   
If I can get public company info so easily, why do I need to pay someone else for it?

What's the Best Use of Your Time?

So if searching the EDGAR database for public financial information on United States companies is so easy, do you still need to pay a company like Dun & Bradstreet for business profiles and financial information? Quick answer: Yes. Remember that 98 percent of businesses are not public and therefore do not have detailed information available in EDGAR. Even if you concentrate strictly on public United States companies, it takes some work -- and some accounting knowledge -- to access and understand the information available on the public forms. It's a lot easier to subscribe to a business information service that has all the profiles and reports you need at a glance. Of course, these services cost money and EDGAR is free.

   
Don't US companies have PR people to control the flow of information about the company?

Uncontrolled Information Can Be Valuable

United States companies large enough to be publicly traded are also very likely large enough to have professionals who control the release of information about the companies. Publicly traded United States companies release exactly what the government tells them they have to release. But anything else coming directly from these United States companies gets run through the PR machine. This is why a professional business information publisher like Manta.com can be such a valuable resource. Manta.com uses leading publishers of business information, like D&B and Icon. These publishers have large and talented editorial staffs who know how to obtain uncontrolled information about public companies. You can access this information through Manta.com, paying only for information you choose to download.

   
What about older SEC filings? Are they available?

How to Find Pre-EDGAR SEC Information

EDGAR only has filings from United States companies beginning in 1994. What if you want historical information on a publicly traded company from before that date? Your best bet here is to try a research library that specializes in business information. Big city research libraries and university libraries are good sources. Check out the library web sites before you go. You might even be able to access the information online.

   
Can I get valuable information from an annual report

Pick Up an Annual Report

All United States companies that are publicly traded put out annual reports for their stockholders. These annual reports can be useful -- and they're free. But they are far from complete sources of business information. With an online database of millions of company profiles, backed by four leading publishers of business information, Manta.com is a complete and trusted source of business information on United States companies and international businesses.

   
Can I get a public company's credit report from Manta.com?

Get Credit Reports and More

Looking for credit information on a public company? You can get some information from United States companies on EDGAR. But if you want detailed credit information on United States companies and international businesses, with professional business analysis and predictive scoring, Manta.com has a variety of products to fit your needs. You can get a credit score report for $59, a payment analysis report for $76.50, a supplier evaluation report for $114, and a comprehensive company profile for $129.50. These reports have increasing amounts of detailed financial information, giving Manta.com customer plenty of choices.

   
Why do I need Manta.com to research public companies?

A Huge Library of Up-to-Date Information

Publicly traded United States companies are required by the government to release detailed financial information on a regular basis. But that information isn't enough on its own to build detailed business intelligence. That's why Manta.com uses four leading publishers of business information to build its online database. With information and analysis from experts like D&B, Icon, Snapdata and Datamonitor, Manta.com has a huge library of up-to-date business information that's sure to help anyone doing public company research or private company research.

   
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