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BA 2030: Business Communication: Private Companies: Tips & Resources

Part of a BA 2030 class? Start here!


There is a great deal of information available on companies which are publicly traded on the stock market. Public companies are held accountable to investors and are required by the federal government to disclose financial information in a series of specific reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The 10-K is the official annual report filed with the SEC each year. Some examples of Public Companies: BP; Citigroup; Exxon Mobil; Procter and Gamble; Toyota Motor; Wal-Mart.


Because private companies are closely held -- not selling ownership shares on stock exchanges --  and because their performance does not impact the general public much, they have no obligation to make their financial information public. This drastically limits information available beyond the company's own web page. So library resources most probably will not be much help in researching these companies. Some examples of private Companies: Cargill; Chrysler; GMAC Financial Services ; Mars; Meijer; Toys "R" Us.

·         You may find a brief directory listing that gives bare bones information -- often only contact numbers and addresses, number of employees, and a brief description of its products or industry classification.

·         If a private company has been in the news, you may also find local newspaper articles and sometimes magazine features.



Private Companies: Tips & Resources


 It typically is hard to find information on private companies, especially if they are relatively small in size. There are a few library resources that cover privates. But information generally will be much less detailed than what is available for publicly traded entities.


 In Lexis-Nexis Academic using the Get Company Info search box to retrieve a company profile. Click here to see a quick demo of finding a profile for Forever 21.

Or enter the company name into the top of screen search box.  It is worth trying for a Hoover's company report, which both current and comprehensive. Click here for a demo of a search for Hoover's. 

   Newspaper Source contains articles from almost 400 regional newspapers.

Yahoo! Finance Search
Use this Finance Search to find profiles of private companies and subsidiaries. Click here to see a screenshot of a company profile for Bechtel. (Click the full size icon to see better. Click in the toolbar to enlarge the screen.) When you get multiple entries in a live search, click on the industry link and then use the Company index link on the left navigation bar to pull up the report.

All 50 states make some level of corporate and business filings available online, see

Business Filings Databases for links to the states. Some information is available only after payment.


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