• Business financial information is either very easy or very difficult to find, depending on the form of legal entity under which the business is operating. For some companies, particularly publicly traded corporations, most financial information is available online. For privately held companies, information may be more difficult--but not impossible--to obtain. There are several options for getting financial information on a business.

    Public Filings

    Publicly traded corporations--that is, corporations with stock shares that are traded on the open market--are required under regulations from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to release a significant amount of financial information, including earnings, revenue and expenses. The SEC maintains a publicly searchable database called EDGAR that displays this information, including press releases, detailed profit-and-loss statements and related data.

    Commercial Credit Reports

    Businesses with open lines of credit often participate in a commercial-credit rating service. One of the most common is Dun & Bradstreet--companies can apply for a DUNS number, which allows other businesses to make determinations about that company's creditworthiness. D&B is a subscription service, so although the information is available, users must pay a fee of $30 or more to access reports. as of January 2010.

    State Disclosures

    Companies that are not publicly traded, such as limited liability companies, must nevertheless file annual statements that often include rough financial performance measures. Although these documents are not reportable to the SEC, some states allow for public viewing of these records, including annual financial disclosures. For example, Michigan's Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth has a searchable online database that allows for a review of all legally required documentation on any registered business entity.

    Search Engines

    Search for online information. Not only are things like press releases and analyst reports often available online, but specialized databases like Lexis-Nexis permit more detailed searching into indices often not open to the Internet at large. Most larger community libraries permit some Lexis-Nexis or InfoTrac searching at a public terminal at no cost to patrons.


    Dun & Bradstreet

    Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth: Business Entity Search

    More Information:

    U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR System

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