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If it is a public company, go to the annual report to shareholders. The annual report is perhaps the best single source of information on a company, but keep in mind that it is written partially as a promotional tool by the company itself and is not an entirely unbiased source. Annual reports appear as parts of various database services, and many companies provide annual reports on their websites or will send out paper copies on request. When you are on a company’s website, look for a link labeled Investor Relations.
Private companies are not required to file annual reports, although some will publish reports as a promotional tool. These private company annual reports are virtually impossible to obtain except from the company itself, and all information in such a report must be treated cautiously. Business directories provide basic information on private companies, such as number of employees and annual sales estimates. Lastly, search local or regional newspapers for information on local and private companies.
Financial reports, of U.S. corporations from reports submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Includes annual reports, quarterly reports, balance sheet, income statement, security activity and analysis and much more.
Includes company overview, history, products/operations on more than 18,500 public and private U.S. companies and international companies. Covers major industry trends, industry links, and IPO information.
This database provides a ton of broad company information, as well as financial statements access. Coverage areas include: Company Details, Executives, Ownership, Company Financials, Reports, Filings, News, Competitors and a Report Builder tool for exporting custom data sets.
The Collection of Historical Annual Reports is a project of the Lippincott Library at the University of Pennsylvania. The Collection consists of annual reports in PDF format from U.S. companies, and covers the period 1800 through 1955. Reports are continuously added.
The selection targeted corporations that operated in and around New York City. Approximately 36 companies are represented with a total of approximately 770 individual reports (ca. 17,300 pages) ranging from the 1850s through the early 1960s.
The Financial Times Historical Archive delivers the complete searchable run of the world’s most authoritative daily business newspaper. Every item ever printed in the paper, from 1888-2010, can be searched and browsed article by article and page by page. Founded to serve the immediate needs of the City of London, the Financial Times quickly broadened its coverage, recognizing that global financial and economic issues were to become the predominant forces of the twentieth century.
Incorporating its rival the Financial News in 1945, the Financial Times expanded in the post-war years, reporting on topics such as industry, energy and international politics in full for the first time. In the final decades of the twentieth century, coverage of management, personal finance and the arts was added, to make the paper what it is now—a complete general newspaper for the businessman. The historical archive of the Financial Times , which is today distributed on its distinctive pink paper to more than a million readers worldwide, is an essential, comprehensive and unbiased research tool for everyone studying the public affairs and financial history of the last 120 years.
Judith M. Nixon from Purdue created a database that is a merged list of Historical Corporate Annual Reports to Shareholders at the following universities:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Alabama
University of Pennsylvania
University of Western Ontario
Science/Industry/Business Library of New York Public Library.