How to Find Financial Information About a Business

Investors usually like to know as much as possible about a business before they invest in it. Your ability to research financial information depends on the type of business. There are two types of businesses, public and private. Public companies are required to disclose certain information in legal forms. Failure to do so accurately can result in fines and even criminal investigation of management. Private companies are not required to make their financial information public. Therefore, finding ample and accurate information about privately owned businesses can be difficult.

Step 1

Look up the ticker symbol for the company. Go to you favorite investment research site or ask your broker for the ticker symbol associated with the company. A ticker symbol is usually 1 to 5 letters long. Use this symbol to research your company on investment research sites. If the company does not have a ticker symbol, it is most likely privately owned.

Step 2

Go to the company's website. Most companies, private or public, maintain a website that includes financial information. The best document to obtain on the website is the Annual Report. It contains detailed financial documents and a discussion of the company's financial decisions.

Step 3

Use the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). They maintain a database called EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval). The database has a listing of all documents submitted to the SEC for public disclosure.

Step 4

Contact Dun & Bradstreet for privately held companies. They have a website as well as numerous publications that may be available at your local library. Some of their reports may require a fee to access.

Step 5

Contact your broker and have him connect you to the investment research department. Most brokerage houses will provide you with access to their research team and portfolio.

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