On this page
Company information is available in a wide variety of online and print sources. This guide is a starting point for company research, not a comprehensive source list. Ask our Librarians for assistance if you are unable to find the information you need.
Generally, it is easier to find detailed information about large, public, or Canadian/US companies than about small, private, or foreign companies.
Reports and directories
Directories often provide brief information such as company addresses, phone numbers, executives' names, etc., but they may also offer things like SWOT analyses, details on recent M&A activity, and key customers. They may list companies from many industries or focus on specific industries or geographic areas.
The titles below are just a small sample of some of the more commonly used company reports and directories.
Use the Menu option in the top corner of the database's homepage to choose Company Dossier.
GlobalData Company Profiles (via Nexis Uni)
Descriptive information (competitors, products, etc.) on about 8000 companies, plus much deeper information on the largest 1000 companies: Business Strategy, Financial and Operational Data, SWOT Analysis, Value Chain Analysis, etc.
Hoover's Company Reports (via Nexis Uni)
Note: Ignore the coverage dates listed (2006-2006) in our access point. We actually have current records from Hoovers via Nexis Uni.
Information for more than 40,000 major public and private companies worldwide, including overviews and histories, up to 10 years of key financial and employment data, lists of products and key competitors, names of key officers, addresses, and phone and fax numbers. Basic records cover major US companies and include executive names, as well as company name, address, phone and fax numbers, Web site address, names of key executives, sales and one-year sales change, year-end, stock exchange and symbol, industry, and a brief overview of operations.
Marketline company reports via Business Source Complete
A collection of over 10,000 company reports. Many of the Marketline reports include SWOT analyses, but in some cases the SWOT reports are published separately: add your target firm's name to this search. The company profiles available include some from other sources such as MedTrack.
Based on data from Dun & Bradstreet®, Mergent Intellect contains information on over 400 million global companies, more than half of which are active. The vast majority of firms covered are privately held. The amount of information available on each firm varies, but generally includes at least location — country, state/prov, city, and even lat/long — as well as industry classification, and some method of gauging size (rough sales or employee count numbers). For many of the larger firms covered, you can also retrieve lists of key competitors, surrounding companies, detailed global family trees with lists of subsidiaries, and contact information for over 100 million executives.
Canadian Importers Database
This product provides lists of the companies (with their geographical locations) importing goods into Canada. These data are compiled from customs documentation filled out by importers.
Local: The Business in Vancouver book of lists [print]
Information on over 500,000 suppliers (manufacturers and distributors) and more than 6 million products. (Covers both USA and Canada.)
Check out Canadian business directories for more suggestions. Also see Company Histories below for a few places to start searching for historical company information.
Many major financial sources are listed in the Library's Annual reports and Ratio analysis research guides. Here are a few key resources:
S&P Capital IQ
Very detailed financials for publicly traded firms worldwide, as well as key financials for large private firms.
The system used for electronically filing information with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities (since 1997). Includes annual reports, interim financial statements, press releases and prospectuses. Similar to the Edgar Online service available for companies traded in the US (described below).
EDGAR - Search and Access
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) database of corporate filings. Contains annual reports, press releases, and other public documents for most public companies in the US. Note that annual reports are "10-K" forms for the SEC.
Financial information about private companies is difficult to find as they are not legally required to publish such data. First of all, check with sources such as LexisNexis Corporate Affiliations [print and online - note that the online version is updated daily, ignore the date in our catalogue] to confirm that the company is completely private and not actually a subsidiary of a public company. If a private company is partly owned by a public company, you may be able to get some basic financial details from the annual report of the parent company.
In addition, directories such as the Business in Vancouver Book of Lists (print) sometimes contain basic details on local private companies.
Other sources to try include:
Forbes Largest Private Companies list — Covers the largest U.S. private companies (2021 / 2017 / 2016 / 2015 | 2014 / 2013 / 2012). Also see additional Forbes Lists.
Globe & Mail's Report on Business — Top Private Companies in Canada: 2016 and 2013.
BC Business — Top 100 Companies (includes some private firms)
Based on data from Dun & Bradstreet®, Mergent Intellect contains information on over 400 million global companies, more than half of which are active, and the vast majority are privately held.
Hoover's & Marketline company reports
- Hoover's reports (available via Nexis Uni) include some private companies.
- Many Marketline company profiles are available within Business Source Complete.
Use the Menu option in the top corner of the database's homepage and choose Company Dossier.
International Directory of Company Histories
Covers thousands of companies, each of which is a leader in their industry or geographic area.
The histories of large and "newsworthy" companies, e.g., Apple Computer, Inc. — History, may be published as books. Search the Library Catalogue by subject using the name of the company.
Nexis Uni - Company Dossier
The Company Dossier section of Nexis Uni includes some history details such as changes in leadership, brands, and key financials. Search for a company, then click on Company Information > Company History to access this feature. You can view up to 5 years of history at a time.
Newspaper and journal articles
Newspapers, trade magazines and business journals provide current information about company performance, products and problems. Articles may often be the only source of information about small or private companies.
Business Source Complete
Thousands of business journals, industry magazines, and industry & market reports. BSC also includes company profiles from sources such as Marketline and Medtrack for many of the world's largest companies.
The full text of most major and local-market Canadian newspapers. Newspapers from the hometown of the headquarters of a company can often be a great place to get unusual and hard-to-find company information.
CBCA Fulltext Business
CBCA covers Canadian popular and business magazines, as well as some newspapers.
Regional Business News
Full-text from many regional business publications in the US. May be useful if the company you are researching is relatively small and is based in the United States. Also useful if you want news from the city where the headquarters of a company is located.
Global business news database covering 35,000 publications. Search for news about your target company, but also try choosing Companies/Markets from the navigation bar, then search for your company and browse the range of FactSet reports available.
Academic Search Premier
Covers both popular magazines (e.g., Time & Newsweek Global) and academic journals in most subject areas.
Nexis Uni covers thousands of full-text news sources from around the world, including newspapers, magazines, journals, newsletters, wire services and broadcast transcripts. Start with this Advanced Search screen with News sources pre-chosen.
Includes Reuters news coverage of companies and industries (and much more!).
Wall Street Journal
Online access to WSJ articles from 1979 to the present via Factiva. (Access to page-image version also available from 1889 to 12 years ago.)
Full access to all Financial Times content from the last several years, including articles, newsletters, special reports, videos, and more.