DataCenter logo
home programs research tools reports donate search
web resources internet tips campaign research research planning

Researching a Corporation

Corporate Profile

First pull together a profile of the company from the answers to the following questions. This information will help you understand the company you are dealing with and helps guide the rest of your research.

Sample Questions

(search terms will either be in bold or in brackets at the end of each question)

* Who are the executives and board of directors? How much do they get paid (and other compensation)? How much stock do they own? What affiliations do they have (see people research)?

* What are the financial indicators for the firm? (profit, debt, sales, growth, etc.) [earnings]

* What are the worker indicators? (Number of employees, occupational categories, union base, wage levels)

* What is the parent/subsidiary structure of the firm? [subsidiar*, branch, facilit*]

* Where does the company have facilities? Where is it Headquartered (address and phone number)? [headquarters]

* What major products does it produce?

* Is the company involved in business outside the industry you are investigating?

* What do the firm's leaders articulate as goals for the firm's development? What are their business plans for the coming year? What are areas of growth/downsizing? How do they see themselves in the industry?

* Roughly, what is the production or service delivery process?

* Is it a public or private company?

* Who are the major stockholders?

* Who is the stock analyst?

Information Sources

Company website

Try using Google ( and the search string: "name of company" to find the page. Often the web address will be Company web pages will often list branches/subsidiaries/facilities locations, provide overview of company operations, give company policy on such issues as the environment and diversity, company press releases, SEC filings, annual reports, product listings, executives and other useful information.

Company Information websites

Public company:

Gives a nice company profile and links you to SEC filings, company annual report, recent news stories, company's website, and occasionally positive social/environmental profile information.

All the Securities and Exchange Commission filings, plus an update service for any new filings as they come in.

Executive Pay Watch
Compares workers' wages with their CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Includes all compensation, not just pay.

Private company:

American City Business Journal
"American City Business Journals Inc. is the nation's largest publisher of metropolitan business newspapers, serving 40 of the country's most vibrant markets." Use pull down menu to choose city. Very helpful IF your city/region is listed. Useful for information on private companies.

"Provides great one-stop-shopping with links for doing research on private and public companies world-wide." (AFL-CIO)

PR Newswire
Has press release news stories on companies. See Company News on left hand side of page. Good for private companies.

For additional sources, check out our Company Information guide.

Publications at your local library (most come in print and/or electronic format):

* Directory of Corporate Affiliations
* Twin Plant Guide
* American Business Directory (aka US Business Directory)
* Dun & Bradstreet (Dun's Market Identifiers, Dun's Business  Rankings)
* Standard & Poor's
* Moody's Investors Manuals
* Companies and Their Brands
* International Directory of Corporate Histories
* Hoover's Handbook of American Business and Hoover's Guides
* Million Dollar Directory
* Thomas Register of American Manufacturers

State Filings

State governments require less information from privately held corporations located in their states than they did previously. In many states, companies do not have to do more than give their name, address, and stockholders or owners.

DataCenter has access to filings for each state via Lexis-Nexis, which also allows us to name search for executives or multiple companies at the same address (establishing connections between "shell corporations").

To request a filing from the California Secretary of State, submit a request in person or in writing to: Sec. of State, 1350 Front Street, Suite 2060, San Diego, CA 92101-3609. Copies are $1 for the 1st page and .50 for each page thereafter. If you are unsure of the amount, enclose a blank check not to exceed a certain dollar amount (clerk will fill in and notify re the amount). It's an additional $10 to do in person. The filing contains officers, addresses, and phone number of a corporation (it does not contain by-laws).

General Press

Northern Light
Search over 130 Million Web pages and articles of more than 5,400 full text sources. Sources include some alternative press. Service is free, but a charge from $1 - $4 for articles from "Special Collection". Also has Investext (stock market analysts reports).

DowJones News Retrieval
Available on the web for a $69 yearly fee and a document charge to view anything more than a headline. Document charges range from $2.95 for articles to over $100 for some reports. Only source for the Wall Street Journal full text.

You can gain access to Lexis-Nexis through your local university (if you have a member, staff, volunteer, or intern who is a student there) or you may consider setting up an account with Lexis-Nexis, if your organization will be doing extensive research (with negotiating you can get an account for as low as $250 per month). Databases of primary importance are News and Company.

* Vickers: Stockholder information, including top ten institutional investors, number of shares (current and previous quarter), and value of shares.
* Nelson Reports: Stock analysts (they analyze stock and put it on the market for capital)

General Web Searching (via search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Dogpile, etc.)
When all else fails, try doing a general web search. This is the last search to do on a company, not the first.

Profile | Reputation | Labor | Environment | Money & Politics


General Planning & Tips
Campaign Strategy
Ten Campaign Research Steps


Researching Corporations
Researching Individuals
Getting Public Records

Creating Surveys
Creando Encuestas (PDF)


Capturing Air Toxics 411
Challenging FTAA, NAFTA & WTO
Juvenile Justice in California


Company Information

Corporate Responsibility
Education & Schools
Elections 2004
Government Information
Money & Politics

Plan Puebla-Panamá (PPP) - English
Plan Puebla-Panamá (PPP) - Español
Prisons & Criminal Justice
Welfare & Economic Rights
Search Engines & Databases


Using Search Engines
Research & Language
Evaluating Documents


DataCenter, 1904 Franklin St., Ste. 900, Oakland, CA 94612, USA
Ph: (510) 835-4692 | Fax: (510) 835-3017 | Email:
Designed by CheneyWhite WebDesign 2001
Graphics by Rini Templeton