How to Research a Company

  Dated: Jun 12,2013

To research a company, information is available from numerous reference books at your library; Moody's Industrial Manual, Value Line Investment Survey, Standard & Poor's Stock Reports, and Standard & Poor's Corporation Records contain write-ups on over 10,000 companies. Thomas Register; Standard Directory of Advertisers; Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives-Volume 1; and Dun & Bradstreet's Million Dollar Directory and Middle Market Directory list the products, services, sales volume and/or number of employees of over 150,000 companies.

The state directory lists companies' products and/or services, number of employees, and approximate sales volume.

If you want to learn about a company that's a division or subsidiary of a larger organization (and it doesn't appear in the above directories), there are two sources to use. Directory of Corporate Affiliations gives the address, type of business, name of the chief executive officer, sales volume, and number of employees for over 40,000 companies that are owned by other organizations. The subsidiary companies appear alphabetically. The name and address of the parent organization is also provided. International Directory of Corporate Affiliations covers approximately 30,000 companies that are owned by larger organizations (both American and foreign) located in the United States and abroad. Name, location, and type of business are provided for the subsidiary companies. Name, address, number of employees, products/services, and names and titles of key personnel are furnished for the parent organization. The listings appear alphabetically by parent organization. The parent and its subsidiary companies are also cross-indexed by type of business and geography.

If you want to learn about a company that's located outside the United States, in addition to International Directory of Corporate Affiliations, the following are available:
  1. Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Conn-tries. This publication lists over 3,000 U.S. companies that have over 20,000 subsidiaries and affiliates in 121 countries. Companies are grouped alphabetically by country, noting their address and type of business.

  2. Directory of Foreign Manufacturers in the United States. Over 2,300 foreign organizations that have subsidiaries in the United States are listed alphabetically, as well as by country. A key is provided to identify the U.S. divisions.

  3. Bottin International Business Register Over 100,000 foreign companies are listed by geography and products/services offered.
Newspapers and business magazines continuously run articles on companies and are additional sources to consider, especially for learning about an organization's recent successes, current problems, and future plans. If you're interviewing for an executive-level responsibility, these articles may also shed light on the position the company has available. To find the appropriate publications, see Standard Rate and Data Service Business Publications, Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, Business Periodicals Index and Business Index.

Many libraries subscribe to Infotrac, an on-line service that provides research reports on thousands of companies. Computer printouts are available.

In addition to conducting research at the library, here are other ways to learn about a potential employer:

A company's annual report, 10-K report, and Dun & Brad-street report will be helpful. The last will be particularly useful for learning about an organization that's privately owned.

Most large companies have house organs (in-house newsletters) that discuss current activities and future plans. Reading these publications may also give you a sense of the company's work environment or corporate culture. To find out if an organization has a house organ, call the company or look through the All-in-One Directory, which lists the different publications.

Ask a company's personnel, public relations, advertising, or sales department if the organization has been written up. If an article recently appeared and it was favorable, reprints will be available. In addition, these departments will be able to tell you about the company's products and services, as well as its size. Current and previous employees are also sources to consider. These individuals may even be able to give you important "inside" information, either about the position or the type of per son the manager likes to hire.

If you were referred to a company by a recruiter, he might be knowledgeable about the organization.

Recruiters from executive search firms will always have a great deal of information. Employment agency representatives, however, usually won't. In addition, you must be careful about what agencies tell you, since the people there work on straight commission and don't get paid unless the company hires you. Thus they will often present a biased assessment of a company If your interview is with a publicly owned company, your stockbroker might be following the organization or be knowledge able about its industry If not, he might be able to put you in touch with someone who is or provide you with a recent broker age report.

The company's suppliers, customers, and competitors will always have a wealth of information, particularly about recent developments and any significant problems the organization is encountering. These individuals might be difficult to reach, though.