Researching a company is a common task you will encounter as a business and management student.
Students often attempt to find all the answers they need by conducting a Google search which usually returns an overwhelming number of results. As you begin to examine your results, however, you should begin to notice that the quality of your Google results will considerably vary. While a few sources (e.g., the company website) might be a good place to begin, other results may seem questionable. Further, it is not uncommon to find that the opinions of anyone, which are widely voiced on the internet, can sometimes be presented as fact.
When researching a company, the key to success is to be aware of what information is likely to be available and where you need to go to locate it.
This module is designed to help you locate reliable company information that goes beyond a Google search.
You will also discover that researching a company is just the beginning. Company research often leads to making connections between companies, their competitors, customers, the industry, the market environment, stock prices, the company’s financial health, its leadership, etc.
As you explore and investigate your company, try to think like a detective. Get curious and be on a constant lookout for clues about the company. Don’t be afraid to re-think your steps. Keep in mind that it’s called “re-search” for a reason.
Company Research Has Many Uses
What other kinds of company research do students need? Good question! It depends on your particular research assignment. Students often discover that they need to consult different sources of information in order to understand the company they are researching.
Company information has a variety of uses which can include any of the following.
Sometimes basic information is required such as the company name, the type of company, the location of a company’s headquarters, a brief company history, or the names of key personnel e.g., the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Company profiles and snapshots usually contain company basics, a financial overview, ownership structure, company history, company news, details of the company’s products and services, share prices, family tree, plus additional qualitative and quantitative information. This information will vary depending on the database used.
Detailed Financial Data
All publicly-traded companies are required to report their financial statements to shareholders in the form of a series of regulated accounting documents such as income statements, balance sheets, cash flow, and stock pricing information as well as merger and acquisition activities. UNB Libraries subscribe to highly-specialized financial databases which can help you find this type of information
Ratios are another important tool which can help to determine how well a company is performing when compared to other companies. Financial ratios are calculated using the figures provided in a company’s financial statements and can offer insights to lenders and potential investors to help make decisions about the company. Several library-subscribed databases provide access to a variety of ratios.
Analysts who work for financial firms or brokerage houses produce reports which offer insights into the financial health of public companies. For example, an analyst can offer an opinion advising potential investors whether they should buy, hold, or sell a particular company stock.
UNB Libraries subscribe to detailed financial databases which offer students an opportunity to search a variety of analyst reports about specific companies.
UNB Libraries also subscribes to a few databases from vendors that offer SWOT analyses. You will learn more about SWOT analyses as you make your way through this module.
Published Articles & Current News
Through UNB Libraries, you can access quality articles from a wide range of academic journals, magazines, trade publications, and news sources which can offer valuable insights about a company. Articles may be available on a variety of issues including a company’s marketing strategy, business model, share prices, stance corporate social responsibility (CSR), and competitive intelligence.
Discovering which companies are major players in a particular industry can help you understand the competitive advantage of the company you are researching or where they might need to innovate to remain competitive in the market.
Job Search/Interview Preparation
Some students are interested to learn as much as they can about a company when preparing for a job interview. Digging deeper into a company’s background using library databases can really help.
Keep in mind that not all company information is freely available. Why?
Companies do not want their competitors accessing sensitive information such ashow many units of a product or service they sold last year, their target markets, or their cost markups.
Generally, most companies will not release “insider information” about their inner workings (e.g., corporate culture, employee satisfaction).
You will come to discover that some creative thinking and strategic digging are required to get to a deeper level of company information.