Q. Where can I find information on privately-held companies, that are not publicly traded?
Searching for information on a private company (not traded on a stock market exchange) can be significantly more complex than searching for information on a publicly traded company. This is often because private companies are not required to submit the same tax forms and paperwork as public companies. In addition, they have fewer reporting obligations than publicly traded companies; for example, they are not required to publish their financial statements, annual reports, or other year-end summaries. Not sure if you have a public or private company – scroll to the bottom of this page for help!!
When researching a company, always start with the company’s website. There is often a surprising amount of information housed directly within a company’s website; just be sure to click a variety of pages like: “About us”, “History”, “Mission”, “Values”, etc.
Next, several of our databases provide detailed private & public company information (including Annual Reports, SWOT analyses, financial statements, executive/board information, history, and more):
Mergent Online: Click on the D & B Private Company Database box to search for privately held companies.
Hoover’s: To search for a company, click on Advanced Search. Type your company's name into the Company/organization search box and press Search.
Also, consider searching the general business databases for news articles and more information about your company.
If you’re not sure whether you’re researching a public or private company, there are a few things you can do:
Start (once again) by looking at the company’s website; often if they are publicly traded, they will include information about the stock exchange on which their shares are sold; this sometimes is located in an Investors page. You can also conduct a search in EDGAR Company Filings, the free database provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Search for the company name
If no results appear, you can be fairly certain you are looking at a private company or a subsidiary of a larger company (verify spelling!).
Schedule a research appointment with the Business Librarian if you have additional questions about locating company information.