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1. Is a company public or private? Who owns it?

Public companies sell stock to the general public. They are required to disclose certain financial information to their shareholders. Therefore, it is easier to locate information on these companies than on privately held companies. Articles that mention annual results, profits, or "stocks" indicate that it is public. If a company is public and Canadian you'll find it in SEDAR+. If a company is public and American you'll find it in EDGAR.
Private companies do not sell stock to the public. No disclosure of information is required. Whatever information a private company makes available is completely up to the individual company. It can be challenging to find information about private companies.
Includes more than 100 million private US, Canadian and global businesses and over 6000 US public companies.Includes global corporate family trees, First Research industry reports, US census data and Key Business Ratios (KBR).

Generate company lists by size, industry, location and other criteria.

Mergent Online Canadian resource 
Provides financial information and profiles of U.S., Canadian and international companies, public and private. Also includes the 'Investext' module - equity analyst's reports

         *  Search the databases in the Business 'Articles' tab to find out more about a company - whether they are public or private, ownership and parent companies, mergers and acquisitions, key personnel etc.

2. Where are company annual reports?

Annual Reports are the primary source of corporate financial information for publicly-held companies. A public company's annual report is available on its website. If the company is private, annual reports will not be available for public distribution.
SEDAR: annual reports of Canadian public companies
EDGAR: annual reports of U.S. public companies
Also see a company's website: generally 10 years of reports and filings are archived.
 Annual Information Forms (AIF) and 10K reports will include detail about facilities and locations. 
Historical annual reports: see the Historical section of this guide.

3. How does one find corporate filings?

SEDAR+ (System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval)
Canadian public company filings with the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA). Now mandatory for most reporting issuers in Canada.
EDGAR (U.S.) (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system)
Filings from companies required by law to file forms with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
International corporate filings. Links to websites of SEC-equivalent regulatory bodies around the world.

4. What are NAICS and SIC codes?

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is an industrial classification system common to Canada, the United States and Mexico. Gradually, the SIC system will be phased out in favour of the NAICS system.
The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) is a useful tool for identifying competitors within an industry. SIC codes group companies based on the products and services produced. SIC codes used in directories and databases are generally the U.S. codes. Print versions of the SIC table of codes can be found in the Canadian Key Business Directory or Standard & Poors Directory.

5. What are Betas? Where can I find them?

"Beta measures the volatility of a stock relative to the market as a whole, as represented by an index such as Standard & Poor's 500 stock index. A beta that equals 1 means the stock has the same volatility as the market; a beta higher than 1 means the stock is more volatile than the market." (Dictionary of Business Terms by Jack P. Friedman)
Choose: Companies/Markets tab > Company > search on a company name or ticker > select Reports in left hand menu > Select from Template list > Ratio Comparison Report. Betas, five years, for company and industry.

6. Where can I find Earnings Call Transcripts?

Often held after the release of a public company's quarterly or annual numbers, conference calls between top management and investors can be a great source of information. Conference calls are an opportunity for the CEO or CFO to speak informally and candidly about the company's past performance and its future prospects. Informed analysts ask probing questions about results, operations and competitors.
CQ FD Disclosure: In Factiva, select "Source" and locate the publication CQ FD Disclosure. Then use a keyword search to find conference call transcripts for your company, product, or industry.
Within this publication, search by company, product, or industry to locate relevant conference call transcripts