Company Organization, Structure, and Results

home | industry | economic & legal | company history | ethics

Organization, size, and industry

What is the official name of the company? Is it public or private, a parent or subsidiary? Is it a for-profit or non-profit organization? Is the name actually a brand name instead of a company name? These are examples of the kinds of questions to ask when beginning company research to make sure you are actually researching the company you intend to research and to guide the types of sources you approach.

Companies that do not raise money through sale of securities to the general public are said to be privately held. Companies that sell stock in more than one state and meet certain size thresholds must file various reports with regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and are described as being publicly held. It is easier to find information, especially financial, on public companies than on private companies.

Furthermore, it can be difficult to find detailed information, especially financial, on divisions or subsidiaries of public companies; their results are usually combined with the financial statements of the parent company. Information on publicly-held companies that don't have to file with the SEC may be available through article databases, state government offices, and other sources.

Print and online sources such as the following indicate whether a company is public or private and parent or subsidiary. They also indicate the industries in which particular companies compete as defined by the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) scheme or the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). (NAICS replaced the SIC system in 1997, but many company and industry information sources still use the SIC.)

*Business and Company Resource Center
Profiles on more than 200,000 companies indicate whether the company is publicly held and whether it is a subsidiary or parent; they include other data such as number of employees and sales for most companies. Profiles also list the SIC (GBF, BCRC) and NAICS (BCRC) industries in which the company operates. Industry code searches lead to lists of companies ranked by revenue.

Brands and Their Companies - also in *Business and Company Resource Center
UNI Reference T223.V4 A25

Includes alphabetical list of brand names and lists the company that owns the brand.

Ownership and Management top

*LexisNexis Academic
The Business/Company Dossier entries for companies provide parent, subsidiary, and division information.

*Business and Company Resource Center
The Financials section of company reports provides details on major institutional and company insider shareholders. Also summarizes insider trading activity.

Business Filings Databases
This links to databases of company filings with states. In Iowa, the Secretary of State maintains databases that include information on some 200,000 corporations, more than 500,000 officers, and more than one million filings. In most cases information is brief. Compiled by Kathy Biehl of LLRX.com.

EDGAR Database of Corporate Information
U.S. public companies meeting certain thresholds must file financial disclosure documents with EDGAR, a database maintained by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Filings such as the 10-K Annual Report and the Proxy Statement (DEF14A) (Deere example) include information on owners, directors, and executives.

Some commercial publishers obtain EDGAR data from the SEC and produce their own databases, making it easier to search, browse, or manipulate; some examples are *Mergent Online, SEC Info.

Company Web Sites
Some company web sites include profiles of executives. The Cummins, Inc. site, for example, includes biographical information about its leadership team.

Company Web site addresses (URLs) can sometimes be guessed by inserting the company name or an abbreviation for the company name into this structure: www._______.com. For example, Toyota's address is http://www.toyota.com/, and United Parcel Service of America's address is http://www.ups.com.

Sources mentioned earlier such as *Business & Company Resource Center and Hoover's Online usually include corporate web site URLs.

Structure top

Organization Charts : Structures of 230 Businesses, Government Agencies, and Non-profit Organizations
UNI Reference HD38.153 O74 2000
Handy compilation but covers only 200 organizations. Other books about specific companies may discuss their structure; use the UNISTAR word index to look for such publications.

Company Web Sites
Some company web sites show their corporate organization chart. These sometimes can be found by looking in an "About Us" section or by using the company web site search function. In many cases, the structure must be deduced by piecing together bits of information from the web site, articles about the company, and reference sources. Company documents such as annual reports to shareholders and 10-K annual reports sometimes discuss organizational structure.

Cogmap - The Organization Chart Wiki
This web site says, "Cogmap is the Wikipedia of organization charts. We are an organization chart wiki! This means that it is a collection of organization charts online that anyone can edit, add to, and help maintain." Sites like this may be useful in piecing together the structure of a certain company.

Mission top

Some publishers have produced compilations of mission statements and other corporate expressions such as slogans and shared vision. Two such books are listed below. Also, some companies, such as Goodwill Industries, post these kinds of statements on their web sites.

Corporate Statements : The Official Missions, Goals, Principles and Philosophies of Over 900 Companies
UNI Reference HD30.285 .H37 1998

Mission Statements : A Guide to the Corporate and Nonprofit Sectors
UNI Reference HD30.28 .G697 1994

Measures of success top

Tools for measuring the success of a company include its financial statements and stock price. Non-profit organizations such as Goodwill use other measures such as number of people served and number of outlets in addition to basic indicators of financial health.

EDGAR Database of Corporate Information
U.S. public companies meeting certain thresholds must file financial disclosure documents such as 10-K annual and 10-Q quarterly reports on EDGAR, a database maintained by the SEC. The 10-K reports includes financials such as the income statement and balance sheet.

*Mergent Online
Provides financial and narrative description and analysis of about 10,000 publicly held U.S. companies. In Advanced Search, can look up companies by SIC code and create customized tables that show variables of interest for all companies or for a specific company in comparison with other companies in the industry.

Yahoo! Finance
Various free or partially free Internet services such as this one chart a company's stock price over the course of one day to five years or more.

top

Nov. 15, 2010 SL