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Company Research Guide

This Bentley Library research guide was created to provide a starting point for researching companies.

Public Companies: Start With the 10-K Annual Filing

Starting point: the company's 10-K annual report.

Public companies are required to file financial information with the SEC. Each year a public company will produce an annual report (also known as a 10-K) that is sent to its shareholders.* This report provides valuable information that goes beyond the balance sheet and income statements. Usually, the entire year is recapped and you will learn about the external and internal forces affecting the company. 

Read the 10-K report closely, especially the following two sections:

  1. Item 1: Business
  2. Item 7: Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations ("MD&A")

You can you usually locate a company's 10-K on the "Investor" section of the company's web site.  The following library databases also contain 10-Ks and other SEC filings:

*Please note that a foreign company (a "foreign private issuer") that trades in the United States files a Form 20-F annual report. A foreign company files a 20-F if 50% or less of its outstanding voting securities are held by U.S. investors; once a company crosses that threshold it must file the same SEC forms as a U.S. company.

Finding Annual Reports, SEC Filings, and Balance Sheets

Find detailed financial information and SEC filings in the following library databases:

  • Search Tip: Use the [Government Filings] page to search for SEC filings
  • Search Tip: The [Company Details] page consists of ten sub-pages, detailing various aspects of the company. Information includes a business summary, company history, list of properties owned by the company, subsidiaries (including percentage owned and geographic location), business segments (the business and geographic revenue analyses for major segments of the company’s business operations), financials, long-term debt, capital stock and earnings estimates.
  • Search Tip: Check the [Reports] page for Mergent's Ford Equity Reports.
  • Search Tip: Use the [Investext] page to access investment research reports written by analysts at leading investment banks, brokerage houses, and consulting firms.
  • Search Tip: The [Report Builder] page allows you to create custom reports, including company-industry comparison reports.
  • Industrial Manual since 1920
  • OTC Unlisted Manual since 1986
  • Public Utility Manual since 1981
  • International Manual since 1970
  • OTC Industrial Manual since 1970
  • Bank & Finance Manual since 1928
  • Transportation Manual since 1909
  • Municipal Manuals since 1918
  • Search Tip: At the top of the Nexis Uni page, click on [Menu], then select [Company Dossier]. Search using the company's name or ticker symbol. Then, on the left side of company profile page, click on [SEC Filings].

Private Companies

Top pick for small private companies:

Additional resources that may provide financial information for some private companies:

Trading Room Resources

Visit the Trading Room for access to other information resources such as Bloomberg, Capital IQ, and Datastream.