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Business Research Basics: Company & Industry Information

This is an introduction to library and other materials available for business research and news.

Looking for statistics?

Image by Katrina Tuliao is licensed under a CC 2.0 Attribution.

Ticker Symbol

A ticker symbol is a combination of letters (or sometimes numbers) used to identify a security listed on an exchange or otherwise traded publicly. Ticker symbols are unique to each security. To find a ticker symbol, go to the company's website or any of the following websites: 

Finding Company Reports from the Web

Some websites collect company reports online. Please note that while these websites do offer some free reports, some of the reports require you to purchase them. Always check library databases before going to the websites. 

Private Company Information

Private company information may be hard to find because they do not have to report their information to the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). It is possible to find information on these companies. For example, many have websites with an "About Us" section. Also, check for press releases and and reports that are published with promotional information.

Some private companies do publish annual reports for internal or promotional use. You might be able to obtain such a report by contacting the company, or the company may include this material on its website. There are, however, no regulations or guidelines for such reports. The amount of financial information will be minimal if it exists at all. Also, one must think critically about the information that is presented.

Although outside the realm of most libraries' resources, it is worth mentioning that there are businesses which research companies and sell credit reports or other similar reports which include financial information. These can be obtained through a subscription service or bought individually. They can, however, be expensive, and the amount of information provided can vary greatly depending upon the publisher of the report and the cost. Dun & Bradstreet is just one example of a company which provides such reports.

Finding Company Information using Databases

Finding Company Information from their Website

The Internet can provide great resources for business research!

Make sure to visit the company website and read the "About" section to see how a company defines itself and its goals. A company's webpage can offer press releases, investor information, SEC filings, annual reports, or corporate social responsibility or "community" reports.

Be warned that the website will likely be biased or try to present the company in the best light; so other, more objective, sources should be used in addition to the website to fully understand a company. 

SWOT Reports

A SWOT report is something that describes a company's:





This report allows the reader to understand the company's direction and room for improvement. It can describe or suggest future actions in a company or project, as well as the company's aims and external or internal factors that may affect the company or project. 

Finding Industry Codes

NAICS and SIC codes help measure industry activity and aid in gathering of statistics. 

Different databases use different codes in order to classify a company or type of busines. Note that companies can have multiple codes. 


"Industry Texas" by Baytownbert is licensed under a CC 3.0 Unported license.

Bloomberg Terminal

The Bloomberg Terminal is located on the 4th floor of the Gumberg Library, across from the reference desk by the public access computers. Part of the information that the terminal can provide is Bloomberg Industries.