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Master of Business Administration (MBA)

This is the library research guide designed to assist MBA graduate students in the completion of assignments and projects.

How to Use Company Databases

To find company information, we suggest the following library databases. To learn how to effectively use these databases see the tab for each database, or watch the video in the "Video: Company Research" tab:

  1. Go to the Mergent Online database.
  2. Use the Company Search bar to search for a company by name or ticker symbol. (Note: For private companies, select the D&B Private Company Database checkbox above the search bar)
  3. Select the correct company from the drop-down or the search results page. 
  4. On the company page, use the tabs to explore other information like the Company Financials, Reports, etc. On each tab, use the sub-tabs to explore additional information on each tab.

Mergent Online Search Page

For a basic company profile:

  1. Go to Business Source Complete and select Company Information at the top of the page 
  2. On the search page, enter the name of a company, then select the correct company from the search results. 
  3. After you've selected the correct company, you will be taken to a company summary page. Here, you can use the "On this page" section to see more detailed information. You can also locate articles, books, SWOT analyses, Market Research Reports, and much more pertaining to your company by clicking on "Find Similar Results" to the left:


View this short tutorial to learn how to find company reports and articles from Mergent and Business Source Complete databases. This company information includes company financial data, annual reports, market reports, SWOT analyses, and more.

Public vs. Private Companies

Many assignments require research on a specific company. In terms of finding usable informatiion, a student must first determine if the company they are researching is privately or publically held.

  • A "publically held company" has issued securities through an initial public offering (IPO) and is traded on at least one stock exchange.
  • Public companies have advantages over private companies, including the ability to sell future equity stakes and increased access to the debt markets.  With these advantages, however, comes increased regulatory scrutiny and less control for majority owners and company founders. 
  • Once a company goes public, it has to answer to its shareholders. Public companies must meet stringent reporting requirements set out by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including the public disclosure of financial statements and annual 10-k reports discussing the state of the company.
  • Because of these requirements it is much easier to do research on publically held companies.
  • Use these database links for your research on public companies. Contact a librarian for additional help.

  • Private companies may issue stock and have shareholders. However, their shares do not trade on public exchanges and are not issued through an initial public offering. The shares of these businesses are less liquid and the values are difficult to determine.
  • Privatization will usually arise either when a company's management wants to buy out the public shareholders and take the company private (a management buyout), or when a company or individual makes a tender offer to buy most or all of the company's stock. Going private transactions generally involve a significant amount of debt.
  • Companies are often taken private when they need time to restructure their debt or operations prior to becoming a public corporation once again.
  • The reporting responsibilities of private companies, compared with those that are publicly held, are minimal.

Use the following database link for your research on private companies. Contact a librarian for additional help.

Finding Company Earnings Call Transcripts

You may need to locate the transcript for a public company's quarterly earnings call. Below are options for finding that information.

  1. Go to the official COMPANY WEBSITE and navigate to their INVESTOR RELATIONS PAGE. 
    • ​​Earnings transcripts will be labeled differently from company to company; common places they may be found are under financial data, webcasts and presentations, quarterly presentations, and/or news and events.
    • Example: > About Us > Investor Relations > Financial Data > Quarterly Results > Transcript.
    • If you are unable to find them, try a search of the website using the term "earnings."
  2. Transcripts of an earnings call may not be available on the company website beyond a certain quarter or year. If a transcript is not available for the year that you are researching, use the Seeking Alpha website or Regional Business News database links below:

Use the following steps to locate an earnings call transcript for a public company in the Regional Business News database:

  1. Search by Quarter, Year, and Company. Example: "Q4 2017 Southwest Airlines"
  2. Enter these search terms in the search box at the top of the page. Hit Search. The earnings call should appear on the next page.
  3. Click on the title or on the full text link.

Understanding Financial Statements & Stocks

Financial Statements

For those who are not familiar with reading a company's annual report, the following document will help you to:

  • Better understand the data included in financial reports and how to analyze it
  • Learn more about companies that offer employment or provide investment opportunities

Understanding Stocks

EDGAR SEC Filings & Forms

All companies, foreign and domestic, are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms electronically through EDGAR. Anyone can access and download this information for free. Here you'll find links to a complete list of filings available through EDGAR and instructions for searching the EDGAR database.
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