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Company Research Basics

Tips for finding public and private company information, histories, financials, stock reports, and news.

Understanding a Company's Strategy

Note that companies rarely post their complete strategies on their websites for the world to see.  Why not?  Because if companies let everyone know their entire strategy -- where they are going, what their plans are, where they might be expanding, what new products they will launching, etc. -- they will lose their competitive advantage.  Losing a completive advantage can cost a company money.  

Therefore, it is very difficult to find information about a company's strategy.  However, you can sometimes glean small tidbits of a company's strategy by reading company news, 10-K reports, earnings conference calls, and investment publications.  This page shows you where to find that information.

SEC 10-K filings

Public companies in the United States have to submit filings to the the Security and Exchange Commission.  The 10-K filings, filed by public companies at the end of their fiscal years, contain a good deal of information. 

  • Look for themes that may relate to a company's strategy in the Business Summary or Risk sections of the 10-K report. 
    • The company will address their major lines of business, as well as risks and challenges to the business.
    • Look at the Business Summary and Risk Factors (Item 1 and 1A), which is where the company will describe industry challenges
    • Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis, also gives the company's perspective on its business results and how it is doing within the industry.
    • 10-Ks can be found in D&B Hoover's in the tab to the left, or via the SEC website, linked below. 
  • You can find these filings in many company databases, or via the SEC website.  


Company & Investment Resources

  • You can find 10-K reports on the left side of a company profile page in D&B Hoover's.
  • D&B also contains analyst reports, company news, triggers, and more that may help in determining a company's strategy. 
  • Many stock reports (also called analyst or equity reports) will discuss what the analyst believes to be the company's strategy.
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Earnings Conference Calls

Like a post-game press conference with a coach talking about the successes and failures of his team, public companies also discuss their successes, earnings, initiatives, and failures with analysts. These quarterly earnings conference calls are recorded as print transcripts, and can be found in Nexis Uni (formerly Lexis-Nexis Academic). The reports can be an effective way of understanding some of the company's strategies. This video shows you how to find the reports.