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Doing Business Research @ Pitt

Provides a high-level overview and starting point to business research using Pitt resources.

Getting Started: Company Research

There are many resources you can use to research companies. This page will highlight resources available to current affiliates of the University of Pittsburgh (students, faculty, and staff).

For more detailed instructions on conducting company research, please consult our Company Research @ Pitt guide, which covers:

  • Company histories
  • financial information
  • private company data
  • news
  • and more

Questions to Ask: Company Research

What is the complete, official name of the company? Are there possible variations in the name? Do you have the correct spelling? Many companies are known by a popular name or a trade name which is different from their official name. Most resources will list companies only by their official name. Be aware of companies which are named after an individual. First names (e.g. Walt Disney Company) or initials may be part of the official name. Furthermore, a resource may either include or ignore first names and initials when entering and alphabetizing, and some resources are inconsistent. Also, initials can be alphabetized in different manners. Be prepared with spelling variations, even when you feel you are certain of the spelling.

Is it a publicly-held or privately-held company? A publicly-held company is one that openly sells stock to the public on a stock exchange. Those who purchase the stock have an ownership interest in the company. Because of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, a wealth of information is available for public companies. This same level of detail of information does not exist for private companies. Many resources will only include public companies.

Is it a relatively large or well-known company? Certain resources have size restrictions as to which companies are included. Thus, the larger the company, the more likely it is to appear. The more well-known the company, the easier it will be to find information on the company.

Is it a subsidiary? If so, what is the name of the parent company? In some cases, published information may be available only on the parent company.

Would a company want its competitors to know this information? Depending on the type of information you are looking for, keep in mind that the company may not make the information available due to fear of competition, and some answers may cross into the realm of proprietary information or trade secrets.

Have there been recent and/or noteworthy activities involving the company that would have been covered in newspaper, magazine or other periodical articles? If so, be sure to check business news sources. You'll get information on recent activities, and you may also find that the articles provide good background information on the company.

What level of detail is needed? Databases that provide excellent details on a company's finances may not be the quickest source for merely finding a phone number and address or even a brief profile.

Company Databases

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