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AREC 315 - Agribusiness Economics and Management

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Company Search Strategies

1. When researching a specific company, learn its full and official name. While knowing the common name (e.g., Sprouts, Boeing) can often suffice, some library databases are picky and require the official name (e.g., Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc., The Boeing Company) to return any results. Knowing its full name will also help you disambiguate search results to find the right company.

2. Learn if the company is publicly traded or privately held. Certain data are less prevalent on US private companies because, unlike public companies, they are not required to report their financials to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). Therefore, information from news articles, industry reports, and public competitors is extremely valuable in order to better flesh out a private company's position. 

3. If the company is public, learn its ticker symbol. Performing a simple search (in something like Google) with the company's name + stock ticker (e.g., Salesforce stock ticker) should bring it up immediately (e.g., Salesforce = CRM, Sprouts = SFM, Boeing = BA). The ticker will often be useful as a search term in business databases, whether in lieu of or in addition to the company's name. That said, some business databases (like Orbis) and nearly all interdisciplinary databases (like JSTOR) do NOT index ticker symbols and will not understand them. Become comfortable with trial and error and try multiple variations of your search terms.

4. Learn where the company is headquartered. Just as with the full name and ticker symbol, knowing the company's headquarters location will help you identify the right company when your search results in dozens or hundreds of similarly-named companies.

5. If the company is private, you may benefit from identifying a public "proxy company" of comparable size in the same industry. Use this proxy company (and possibly another) to help estimate details like financials that may be difficult if not impossible to uncover for the private company.

Databases for company research

Company financial information

There are a number of sources available for company financials for publicly traded companies. Fewer sources are available for private companies, and when you do find figures, those are less likely to be exact figures and are often estimates.

Company news

In the following databases, try searching by company name: