Many different types of profiles, both for individual firms and industry sectors as a whole, are available for those who wish to research how a business functions. While some of these profiles typically center on a company's financial outlook and investment potential, others focus on a unique facet of the company's operations or a particular target market in which the company specializes. Business profiles often include other pertinent information, such as company history, management style and contributions to the community.
Businesses must register their information with state and federal agencies. These profiles can be compiled from government data ranging from state business license applications to federal income tax forms. Companies that sell their shares in the stock market must register their information with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC compiles a list of the company's financial reports in a profile available to visitors of the agency's website.
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Many companies have developed information-gathering systems to develop commercial profiles for businesses and industry sectors. One of the leaders in the commercial profile arena is Dun & Bradstreet. The company has been in the information industry for more than 170 years and has assembled a global business database with more than 225 million entries. Banks, marketing agencies and data management consultants rely on D&B to search, find and organize data on potential customers.
Social Responsibility Profiles
Just as investors will consider researching a company for its potential profitability, they will also evaluate their commitment to social and environmental responsibility. BSR, a global consulting company, compiles profiles on how companies achieve such goals as energy management, environmental sustainability and equal rights in the workplace. Charitable donors can also obtain profiles on nonprofit agencies through groups such as the Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator, a nonpartisan group that rates the accountability and effectiveness of various charities.
A major source of information for company profiles comes from the companies themselves. Publicly-traded companies are required by law to submit annual reports to the SEC. These reports contain the company's financial statements, including its income statement, balance sheet and statement of cash flow. The annual report also includes a section called "Management Discussion and Analysis," which details how the company's management arrived at its decisions and its outlook for the upcoming year.