Getting Info About Companies
July 1, 2008
This page tells you how to get information about companies from a variety of sources. We'll cover corporate reports, reference books, and commercial databases that provide information. If you have questions about corporate bankruptcy or the worth of an old stock certificate, we have information that may help you.
Corporate reports are a treasure trove of information for investors: they tell you whether a company is making money or losing money and why. You'll find this information in the company's quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, annual reports (with audited financial statements) on Form 10-K, and periodic reports of significant events on Form 8-K.
It's usually easy to find information about large companies from the companies themselves, newspapers, brokerage firms, and the SEC. By contrast, it can be extremely difficult to find information about small companies. Generally, smaller companies only have to file reports with the SEC if they have $10 million or more in assets and 500 or more shareholders, or list their securities on an exchange or Nasdaq.
To invest wisely and avoid investment scams, research each investment opportunity thoroughly and ask questions. If you'd like to learn more about the SEC's registration and reporting requirements, read Q&A: Small Business and the SEC.
You can get corporate reports from the following sources:
- The SEC You can find out whether a company files reports by using the SEC's database known as EDGAR.
- The company Ask the company if it is registered with the SEC and files reports with us. That information may be listed on its Web site.
- Other government regulators Banks do not have to file reports with the SEC, but file with banking regulators. Visit the Web sites at the Federal Reserve System's National Information Center of Banking Information, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Other Types of Information
To find out whether a company has been cleared to sell its securities in a particular state and whether it is in good standing, you can contact the following:
- Your state securities regulator Contact the North American Securities Administrators Association to get the name and phone number of your state securities regulator to see if the company has been cleared to sell securities in your state.
- The Secretary of State where the company is incorporated You can find out whether the company is a corporation in good standing and has filed annual reports with the state through the secretary of state where the company is incorporated. Click here to connect to The National Association of Secretaries of State's Web site for a list of most secretaries of state.
You can find general financial information about companies from reference books and commercial databases. The SEC cannot recommend or endorse any particular research firm, its personnel, or its products. But there are a number of resources you may consult:
- Bloomberg News Service and Lexis/Nexis provide news stories about a company. Dun & Bradstreet, Moody's, Hoover's Profiles, and Standard & Poor's Corporate Profiles provide financial data about companies. These and other sources are available in many libraries or law and business school libraries.
If you have questions about what happens when a company declares bankruptcy, you can get information from our brochure on the subject.
Old Stock Certificates
If you have an old stock certificate, learn how to check if it has value.