Firm Background

A company profile or report is the best way to begin profiling a firm.  Commercially published company reports have different strengths, some excel at providing financial analysis while others are best known for their pithy business descriptions.  You should look at more than one company report to avoid biases and get as complete an overall picture as possible.

Database company coverage varies depending on the public vs private and domestic vs. foreign status of the firm. 

Use the company profile as an initial source to identify relevant competitors and markets/industries in which the firm operates.

 Strategic Management: Company Reports

  Lexis Nexis Academic
Aggregates many company profile databases including public, private, foreign and domestic.  Challenging to search thoroughly.

  MarketLine Company Profiles (EBSCO)
Large U.S. and foreign companies, both public and private.  Search only by company title, which can be unforgiving.

  Mergent Online
Public companies only.  Abbreviated information on foreign firms.

  Mergent/Moody's Manuals (Mergent Archives)
U.S. public companies.

  Morningstar Investment Research Center
Public companies in US.

  NetAdvantage (Standard & Poor's Capital IQ)
Public companies filing in the US.

Search the Onesource module for large U.S. public and private firms.  Foreign coverage as well.

  Value Line Investment Survey
U.S. public companies.

10K's/Annual Reports

Annual reports or 10K's filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by public companies are essential reading.  They are not only the source of audited financial reports but they also shed light on the overall business strategy as articulated by top management, logistics, the competitive environment, risk factors, and government regulation and legal proceedings.

To get the most recent 10K search EDGAR by company name or ticker symbol.

Alternately navigate from the company home page to the investor relations section where the 10K is typically posted.

Many company report databases such as Mergent, ReferenceUSA Onesource, Lexis-Nexis and Morningstar have links to the 10K.

Update the Company Profile

Many company profiles provide links to recent news about the firm.  Take advantage of this feature. 

Be sure to distinguish between corporate press releases (which will always present news in a positive light) and articles written by journalists expected to adhere professional standards and op-ed or blogger pieces presenting unique points of view.

Seek out independent analysis and opinion by searching your Wall Street Journal and Financial Times subscriptions as well as the following news databases.

 Strategic Management: Company News

ABI/INFORM Complete (ProQuest)
Trade and business news

Business Source Premier (EBSCO)
Trade and business news

Lexis Nexis Academic
Best source for foreign news.  U.S. trade and business news too.

Philadelphia Business Journal (American City Business Journals)
Not just Philly.  Local business news around the country.

Regional Business News (EBSCO)
Local business news.

Industry Reports

You can't assess your target firm in a vacuum.  Context is essential to understanding a companies performance.  Industry and market research reports provide a shortcut to the background needed to evaluate a firm.  They typically define the industry, describe how it operates in terms of suppliers, technology, regulation and capital requirements, identifies competitors and the competitive landscape and discuss trends and provide forecasts.

S&P Capital IQ/Netadvantage reports have a section on How to Analyze a Company. Reading this section and applying it to your target company will make you sound like an industry insider.  S&P Capital IQ defines industries broadly, so you many not find a tight fit between your target company and the industry.  Use the best fit you can find!

Industry reports typically list relevant trade and professional associations.  These organizations are often a rich source of information about current trends and industry regulations well worth your checking out.

 Strategic Management: Industry Reports

  ABI/INFORM Complete (ProQuest)
Use the search option, document type to limit to industry reports

  Business Source Premier (EBSCO)
Use the search option, document type to limit to industry overview

  EMIS Intelligence (Emerging Markets Information Service)
Use for industry reports for foreign markets only.

U.S. and global industry market research reports.

  Mintel Reports  Limitations on Use
Market research reports on consumer goods and services categories.

  NetAdvantage (Standard & Poor's Capital IQ)
Browse the industry tab

  Passport (Euromonitor International)  Limitations on Use
Market research reports for foreign and US markets (mostly consumer categories)

Use the Onesource module to search by keyword or classification.


Firm competitors are typically listed in company profiles, 10K's and industry reports.  However if you need to identify competitors in a single business segment of your target firm you may need to search company directories, stock screeners or the trade news to identify close competitors.


Industry reports typically identify emerging technologies relevant to an industry. 

For additional detail search general business article databases such as ABI Inform and Business Source Premier.  Specialized articled databases that cover the industry may also be useful.  For example PubMed or Medline would be relevant to pharmaceutical or healthcare businesses.  For help identifying these contact or another research librarian.

  Gartner  Limitations on Use
A collection of reports and profiles on technology related developments .  Coverage for education, energy, financial, manufacturing, retail, media and healthcare industries.


Industry reports and 10K's typically identify the major regulatory agencies relevant to industries. Google the mentioned regulatory agencies and browse them to find out about the trending topics.  Trade associations typically advocate for industries on the national and international level so browsing those sites us usually fruitful. 

Searching the general business news in ABI Inform and Business Source Premier for your target company or industry and the keywords law or legal or regulatory or regulation or codes or rules may uncover additional areas of government oversight.

If government websites, trade associations and news are not enough, you may need to search the following legal databases.  Legal research can be tricky so don't hesitate to ask for help.

  Lexis Nexis Academic
Provides access to state and federal legislation, regulations court cases.  Also has law reviews and legal news.

General scholarly legal database with current U.S., foreign and international law, and law review articles,

  Congressional Publications (ProQuest)
Find out if there are any congressional hearings or reports relevant to your industry


The demographics most relevant to the firm describe it's customer pool.  For business to business industries, demographic information can most efficiently be gleaned by looking at demand industry reports and business surveys.  For consumer goods and services, look to market research reports, surveys and polls or demographic and population census databases.

 Strategic Management: Demographics

  American FactFinder

  Business Census

  ESRI Business Analyst Online Academic  Limitations on Use

  Mintel Reports  Limitations on Use