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School of Professional Accountancy: Company

Resources for the study of accountancy and taxation.

Company Information

The following databases provide detailed information on companies, including overview, history, financials, key personnel, annual reports and much more.

Public vs Private Companies

What is a public company?

Public companies are those that sell stock to the general public, and trade that stock on a stock exchange or over-the-counter market. Public companies are required by law to file specific forms with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on a regular basis.

What is a private company?

A private company does not sell stock to the general public, and the stock is not traded on an exchange. In private firms, the stockholders are usually the principals in the company (e.g., founders, members of their families, key employees, etc.).

How does a company's status (public or private) affect research?

Much more information will be found on a public company versus a private company. Detailed company information, including description of business, financial data, organizational structure, management discussion, and key personnel data, are included in SEC filings such as the 10-K report. The 10-K is the official annual report filed with the SEC.

For private companies there is usually much less information available. Private companies do not have the same obligation to report to the SEC.

Where can information on public companies be found?

Information on public companies can be found by using the databases listed in the Company Information box or by searching the databases and/or the SEC website found under the Financial Statements tab in this guide. Use the Articles tab to search for newspaper and magazine stories.

Where can information on private companies be found?

Information on some private companies may be found through the databases listed in the Company Information box (but not the S&P and Value Line databases), and also on a company's website. Use the Articles tab to search for newspaper and magazine stories.