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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.
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.
Hoover's Company Reports
Hoover's includes basic and in-depth profiles of thousands of companies. Profiles include key financial details as well as lists of top officers and main competitors. Most companies are publicly traded and based in the USA or Canada, although some non-North American and some privately owned companies are also covered. Hoover's also includes basic overviews of key industries. Use the following search format to focus your search: company(your target company here).
Marketline company reports via Business Source Complete
A collection of over 10,000 company reports, many of which include SWOT analyses. The company profiles available include some from other sources such as MedTrack.
GlobalData Company Profiles (via LexisNexis)
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. Focus your search on a single company using the following search format: company(your target company here). Note: GlobalData profiles are also available in our MINT Global database.
Company Profiles and Directories
This LexisNexis group file will allow you to search a broad range of sources including Hoover's and GlobalData (mentioned above) covering thousands of companies around the world. Use the following search format to focus your search: company(your target company here).
Provides information about key personnel and locations (and much more) for publicly traded companies.
A database that covers 64,000 publicly-traded companies from around the world + more than 275 million private companies.
Canadian Company Capabilities
Information on over 50,000 Canadian companies, 700,000 products, services, technologies and markets.
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.
A database that covers 64,000 publicly-traded companies from around the world + more than 275 million private companies. Includes detailed financials as well as MarketLine industry surveys and more.
Select the Search by Subject or Topic tab at the top, then choose Dossier(Company, Executive, & Industry).
Wall Street Transcript
Interviews with sector research analysts, money market managers, and CEOs.
Detailed descriptions of companies, industries, markets and mutual funds. Includes CFRA Industry Surveys.
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).
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 MINT Global, LexisNexis corporate affiliations [print] or Who Owns Whom [print] to confirm that the company is completely private and not actually a subsidiary of a public company. If they do have a relationship with a public company, you may be able to get some 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:
Globe & Mail's Report on Business -- Top 350 Private Companies in Canada (2012 / 2011 / 2010 / 2009 / 2008 / 2007)
The free list appears to have dropped to the "Top 50" as of 2013. From 2014 onwards, the G&M only provides this list to individual subscribers.
BC Business -- Top 100 Companies (includes some private firms)
Hoover's & Marketline company reports
- Hoover's reports (available via LexisNexis) include some private companies.
- Many Marketline company profiles are available within Business Source Complete and in MINT Global.
A database that covers 64,000 publicly-traded companies from around the world + more than 275 million private companies. The majority of the private companies included in this database are from outside North America where filing regulations are more demanding for private companies.
Select the Search by Subject or Topic tab at the top, then choose Dossier (Company, Executive, & Industry).
International Directory of Company Histories
Covers over 8500 companies, each of which is a leader in their industry or geographic area.
Brief company histories can also often be found in directories and financial information sources. Ask for help in the library to find older (print) editions of such titles as:
- Canadian key business directory
- Canadian trade index
- Fraser's Canadian trade directory
- The blue book of Canadian business
- Canadian company histories
- Standard & Poor's register of corporations, directors and executives.
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 covers Canadian popular and business magazines, as well as some newspapers.
Regional Business News
Full-text from 75 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 Complete
Covers both popular magazines (e.g., Time & Newsweek) and academic journals in most subject areas.
LexisNexis covers thousands of full-text information sources from U.S. and overseas, including newspapers, magazines, journals, newsletters, wire services and broadcast transcripts.
Thomson Reuters Eikon
Includes Reuters news coverage of companies and industries.
Your company may be a subsidiary of a larger or foreign company. To find the parent company name, check:
- LexisNexis corporate affiliations [print]
- Inter-corporate ownership (Statistics Canada) -- Print edition up to 2000. Editions from 2005 to the present are available online via ABACUS.
- Who owns whom: North & South America [print]
- MINT Global -- provides detailed ownership and subsidiary charts.