Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

COPB10: Advancing Your Career Exploration

Summer 2020

Introduction to Company Research

  • Public vs. Private company information
  • Public Company Filings
  • Private Company Information
  • Company Profiles
  • Real-Time Data Applications

Public vs. Private Companies

What's the difference between publicly- and privately-held companies?

Privately-held companies are - no surprise here - privately held. This means that, in most cases, the company is owned by the company's founders, management or a group of private investors.

Public Company Filings

Public companies are listed on stock exchanges, and have regulatory requirements to disclose their financial and operational information with shareholders on a regular basis. 

Annual and Quarterly Reports (also known as: 10K and 10Q)

  • Business Description
  • Risk Factors
  • Market
  • Financial Statements and Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A)
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Disclosures about Market Risk
  • Forward Looking Statements and Estimates

Press Releases (also known as Material Events or 8Ks)

  • Any news or event that shareholders need to know about.
  • Includes: public offerings, M&A, changes in executive structure, changes in board of directors, bankruptcy, etc.

Information Circulars (Also known as Proxy Statement or DEF14A)

  • Any information shareholders would need to vote on (M&A deal, new executive/board member, etc). 
  • Board Member and Executive Team Biographies
  • Compensation Data
  • Shareholder Voting Procedures

Download Public Company Filings

  • Company Website
    • Search the "Investor Relations" or "About Us" pages
  • EDGAR (US-listed companies)
    • Search filings for US-listed companies.
  • SEDAR (Canadian-listed companies.
    • Companies are listed alphabetically. Click on the appropriate letter > Click on the company name > Click "view this company's public documents."

What are Financial Statements?

Financial statements are a picture of a company's financial health for a given period of time at a given point in time. The statements provide a collection of data about a company's financial performance, its current conditions and its cash flow.

Private Company Information

Because there are no disclosure requirements for private companies, it can be difficult to find any information about them. 

Your best bet is to cast as wide a net as possible, using the following search strategies:

  1. Use ABI/Inform, Business Source Premier or Factiva to find articles about the company.  You may find a profile of the company in a trade publication or in a local newspaper.
  2. If the company is a startup, search CB Insights for profile and investment information, as well as similar companies in the space.
  3. If the company is large or multinational, check Capital IQ (available in the Finance Labs at Rotman, IMI (UTM) and Management (UTSC)) as they may have some non-financial information. 
  4. Google - check for a company website, LinkedIn page, news articles, etc.
  5. Contact us if you're really stuck.

If the company was previously public but has gone private, you can still access their historical public filings from when they were a public company. Check Mergent.  

Company Profiles

Company profiles include:

  • Key facts
  • Business description
  • History
  • Key employees (biographies, experience, education)
  • Products/services
  • SWOT analysis
  • Key competitors
  • Locations

Download company profiles: 

Real-Time Data Applications

Access information on thousands of public & private companies, markets, deals and executives, including:

  • Company filings and financials
  • Historical data
  • Transactions (debt, equity, M&A)
  • Screen for companies to meet your investment criteria