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Nuts & Nut Butters Research Guide: Company Research

This guide has been created for the Marketing 4550 class, but can be used by others doing similar research.


Identify Type of Company

When doing company research one should determine whether a company is publicly traded, privately held, or a subsidiary. Mergent Intellect can aid you in determining this. If you are doing research on a local level where there are many small businesses, use a database like Reference Solutions to make the determination. 

Public Company

If you have established that a company is public, you will be able to find many sources that provide financial summaries, as well as links to their 10-Ks. 10-Ks are the annual reports that U.S. public companies must submit to the Securities Exchange Commission.  The sources in this section will help you do this.  Another good source for the 10-Ks is the company's website.  These reports are usually located in the "Investor Relations" section of the website.  Some companies also provide digital copies of the Annual reports to stockholders in addition to the 10-Ks.

Private / Subsidiary

If you have identified a company as a subsidiary, be sure to identify who the parent is.  A database like Mergent Intellect online will often help you determine whether the parent company is public, private, or a subsidiary.  

You will not be able to find detailed financials for subsidiary or private companies (unless the subsidiary happens to be trading separately from the parent).  A database like ReferenceUSA will provide estimated sales figures for some of your competitors.   

Most companies also have websites, so you should examine them thoroughly for information.

Use the databases listed in the Articles section of this guide to find out if anything has been written about these companies in magazines, trade periodicals, or newspapers.

Identifying Competitors

To identify competitors you might start with a directory like the "Food & Beverage Market Place" listed below, as well as searching the directory section of the Organic Trade Association listed below. 

To identify companies in ReferenceUSA, use the custom search.  Select Business type and using the Keyword/SIC/NAICS option, search on the term coffee.  Use the Geography option to limit by various options, including city, metro, or zip code.  You will get a selected list of companies, but certainly not all.  For example, if a company is purely web-based with no physical address, it will not appear in ReferenceUSA.


Information about Competitors

Once you have identified your competitors the next step will be to determine whether a company is public, private, or a subsidiary. 

You should use a database like Mergent Intellect to make this determination.  A database like ReferenceUSA can also be helpful.     

If your competitor is in neither of these databases it is because they do not meet the criteria needed to be included in these databases.  To find information about the companies you will then have to rely on their websites, or search for articles in the databases listed in the Articles tab of this research guide.