Company & Industry Research Guide

Public vs. Private Companies

Public vs. Private Companies

Companies are either publicly-traded or privately held. Publicly-traded companies are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and are subject to numerous reporting and disclosure requirements. The filings are designed to provide investors with relevant information to make informed investment decisions and ensure the integrity of the markets by making sure that those with "insider" knowledge about a company, and it's financials, are not able to take advantage of it for their own benefit.

Privately held companies are not subject to SEC reporting and disclosure requirements, which makes finding information about them more difficult.

Start your research on a company's website:

  • The About and Contact pages will provide valuable information about the company's mission and values, corporate leadership, physical location, and contact information.
  • Investor Relations page may provide detailed information regarding the company's financial performance, past quarterly investor calls, corporate governance documents, and corporate reports. (Much of this information may also be found in the company's EDGAR reports)

*adapted from the Company, Industry, & Market Research guide

Company Research

Below is a list of databases available with the Marriott Library. They provide detailed information regarding both national, international, public and private companies. Read the descriptions and follow the link to the resource that fits your needs. If you are asked to login, use your U credentials. 

For pointers on how to conduct a company analysis, check out this Strategic Analysis of Starbucks Corporation.


Public Companies

The databases below provide details about public companies. 

Private Companies

The databases below include details on private companies.

Financial Analysis

Financial Statements

Below is a film for our Films on Demand database titled, How to Read a Financial Statement: Business Finance Essentials. If you are asked to login, please use your U credentials. 

Business Ratios

Financial ratios are powerful tools to help summarize financial statements and the health of a company or enterprise. 

Use Mergent Key Business Ratios to identify relationships between financial data sets and monitor the state of businesses. Listed below are books available regarding business ratios with your library. 


Below are resources that hold details regarding company financials and valuation. 

Ticker Symbols

Ticker Symbols

When beginning your company research, note the ticker symbol of the company if it is publicly-traded. This symbol can be used to search within the library's databases. You may want to look up a company's ticker symbol using Yahoo Finance.


Ticker   Company
WMT      Wal-Mart
CMCSA   Comcast Corporation

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