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BIZ 4881: Capstone Project

Company Research

  1. Learn more about the company. 
    • Are they public or private? 
    • Parent or subsidiary?
  2. Look for more detailed reports on the company.
  3. Visit the company's website.
    • Look for information about the company's mission, history, information for shareholders or investors, etc.
    • Remember that the company's website isn't the best source of objective information.
  4. Look for the company's annual reports and other financial data.
  5. Search for articles about your company.

Company Profiles in Business Source Complete

Mergent Online

Library Databases

Recommended Websites

The company's official website is also an excellent source of information, but shouldn't be relied on exclusively.


  • Be sure you are researching the official name of the company. Many companies have popular names that may not be listed anywhere. For example, 3M is really Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing.
  • If the company is a personal name or includes initials, e.g. Walt Disney or H. J. Heinz, look under each part of the name. Various sources are not consistent in how names are treated.
  • If you are researching a subsidiary, expand your research to include the parent corporation.
  • Very small or very new companies may not appear in the standard sources, particularly print sources. Look for news articles and a company website. Use any regional or specialized industry directories which may be available.

Finding annual reports

If it is a public company, go to the annual report to shareholders. The annual report is perhaps the best single source of information on a company, but keep in mind that it is written partially as a promotional tool by the company itself and is not an entirely unbiased source. Annual reports appear as parts of various database services, and many companies provide annual reports on their websites or will send out paper copies on request. When you are on a company’s website, look for a link labeled, Investor Relations. 

Private companies are not required to file annual reports, although some will publish reports as a promotional tool. These private company annual reports are virtually impossible to obtain except from the company itself, and all information in such a report must be treated cautiously. Business directories provide basic information on private companies, such as number of employees and annual sales estimates. Lastly, search local or regional newspapers for information on local and private companies.

Additional links for finding annual reports