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This guide teaches you the best resources to use when searching for company and industry information.
The availability of company information varies greatly depending on the type of company and the sources you use.
- Public companies are traded on the open market and are regulated by the SEC. Those who purchase the securities issued by a public company become investors and owners. Company information can be found in SEC filings, analysts' reports, news reports, books, library business databases, and free online. Company proprietary information is not always available.
- Private companies are owned by an individual, family, or a group of partners, and are not traded in the open market. Information is very limited and most of it is confidential. Try company databases that cover private companies, news, and State filings.
- International (non U.S.) company coverage varies. Foreign public companies generally have extensive information available. If the company is traded on a U.S. stock exchange, it is required to file with the SEC.
- Nonprofit companies are not coverged in this guide. You can find Form 990 (filed with the IRS) on the Foundation Center or GuideStar (free registration) websites. Statistics are available at the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS).
Industries are classified in many ways. Your need for data may include only a single product or a small range of products. However, many standard resources for industry information define an industry based on broader criteria, such as SIC or NAICS codes. Using NAICS codes for example, you may not find an industry code for "snowboard manufacturing", but if you broaden your search to "skiing equipment," you will find that snowboard manufacturing falls under the NAICS code 339920 for the "Sporting and Athletic Goods Manufacturing" industry.
Information for your industry analysis will come from many different sources, including, but not limited to, trade associations, investment analysts, commercial publishers, library databases, and government agencies. The nature of the industry you are investigating will help determine which resources are the best starting points. For example, large established industries will be well covered by the library databases and government acencies; smaller and newer industries may be better covered by trade associations, industry newsletters, and more specialized databases.