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Entrepreneurship & Small Business: EBSCO: Business Searching Interface

Online research guide for Entrepreneurship & Small Business Associate's Degree

Public or Private (Parent or Subsidiary): Why It Matters

Before trying to do research on a company--especially before choosing a company to base a project/paper on--first determine if the company is public or private. 

Public companies are traded on a stock exchange (e.g. NYSE, NASDAQ), and since members of the public can become part-owners of those companies, the SEC requires them to publish extensive information, especially financial information, so the public can make informed decisions.

Private companies are not traded on any public stock exchange, so they do not have the SEC disclosure requirements of public companies.  These companies can be owned by families, small groups, individual investors, and/or any combination.  Some large private companies include Cargill, Mars, and State Farm.

  • Since private companies are not required to disclose/publish any information about themselves, there is less information available about private companies--this is especially true for financial information.

 

For all companies, but especially public companies, you also need to check whether the company you're considering is a Parent or Subsidiary.  In today's business world, many companies, even those which used to be independent, are now subsidiaries of large conglomerates.  A good example is The Walt Disney Company (Disney)--subsidiaries include ESPN and ABC television networks, multiple theme parks, and multiple movie studio names including Pixar and Marvel Studios.  (https://www.thewaltdisneycompany.com/about/)

**So, financial information for subsidiaries is often filed under the name of the parent company.  Also, some subsidiaries of public companies are privately-held.**

If you're having trouble with this essential initial stage of your company research, please contact the library for assistance (so you're searching our databases under the correct name).

Step One

First stop for company information: the company's website.  Many companies, especially large and publicly-traded companies, have extensive websites that provide much of the basic information you might need for a paper or project.  (See the main Company Information page for an example using the Bank of America website.)

If you need help navigating one of these websites, please contact the library.

EBSCO: Company Profiles - MarketLine Reports

Business Source Premier, one of the multiple databases that make up EBSCOhost, has a useful feature that is most easily accessible when you start with that database ONLY, instead of searching across all of the databases.

MarketLine Company Profile Reports include information in many useful categories including:

  • Company Overview
  • Key Facts
  • Business Description
  • History
  • Key Employees, Key Employee Biographies
  • Major Products & Services
  • Top Competitors

Depending on the type of company, profiles might also include SWOT Analyses, Revenue Analyses, and other areas.  Some private companies do have reports available, but they will not usually have financial information.


When you first access EBSCO, instead of choosing the first option, EBSCOhost Web, click on "Business Searching Interface.

Next, in the blue menu bar at the top, click on "Company Profiles."

Now you have the option of browsing an alphabetical list (put in the first word(s) of the company name, e.g. Samsung),

or you can click the radio button next to "Match Any Words" and enter a term like "bank."

In addition to a link to the PDF of the report, the results include the location of the company and its industry. 

If you click on the company name, you will see a brief overview of the company. Also on this page, you will see links for pre-made searches in EBSCO in areas that might include Academic Journals, Trade Publications, and SWOT Analyses.  The links will only appear if there is content in that area, so some companies might only have 2 or 3 links (or none).


Citation example for MarketLine reports (EBSCO cite tool does not work properly for these):

MarketLine. (2018). Company profile: Netflix, Inc. Retrieved from Business Source Premier.

[You'll find the date on the first page of the PDF, bottom left.]

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