Researching Stock Details
How Do I Get Information About Companies?
If you're working with a broker or an investment adviser, he or she can provide you with information about the company and its disclosure documents. Be sure to read carefully the prospectus and the company's latest financial reports. Remember that unsolicited emails, message board postings, and company news releases should never be used as the sole basis for your investment decisions. You can also get information on your own from these sources:
* From the company Ask the company if it is registered with the SEC and files reports with us. If the company is small and unknown to most people, you should also call your state securities regulator to get information about the company, its management, and the brokers or promoters who've encouraged you to invest in the company.
* From the SEC A great many companies must file their reports with the SEC. Using the EDGAR database, you can find out whether a company files with us and get any reports in which you're interested. For companies that do not file on EDGAR, check with the SEC's Public Reference Room to see whether the company has filed an offering circular under Regulation A.
* From your state securities regulator We strongly urge you to contact your state securities regulator to find out whether they have information about a company and the people behind it. Look in the government section of your phone book or visit the website of the North American Securities Administrators Association to get the name and phone number. Even though the company does not have to register its securities with the SEC, it may have to register them with your state. Your regulator will tell you whether the company has been legally cleared to sell securities in your state. Too many investors could easily have avoided heavy and painful financial losses if they only called their state securities regulator before they bought stock.
* From other government regulators Many companies, such as banks, do not have to file reports with the SEC. But banks must file updated financial information with their banking regulators. Visit the Federal Reserve System's National Information Center of Banking Information, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency at www.occ.treas.gov, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation at www.fdic.gov.
* From reference books and commercial databases Visit your local public library or the nearest law or business school library. You'll find many reference materials containing information about companies. You can also access commercial databases for more information about the company's history, management, products or services, revenues, and credit ratings. The SEC cannot recommend or endorse any particular research firm, its personnel, or its products. But there are a number of commercial resources you may consult, including: Bloomberg, Dun & Bradstreet, Hoover's Profiles, Lexis-Nexis, and Standard & Poor's Corporate Profiles. Ask your librarian about additional resources.
* From the Secretary of State where the company is incorporated Contact the secretary of state where the company is incorporated to find out whether the company is a corporation in good standing. You may also be able to obtain copies of the company's incorporation papers and any annual reports it files with the state. Please visit the National Association of Secretaries of State website at www.nass.org for contact information regarding a particular Secretary of State.
Which Companies File Reports With the SEC?
In general, the federal securities laws require all but the smallest public companies to file reports with the SEC - including companies with 500 or more investors and $10 million or more in assets, companies that list their securities on a major national exchange (such as the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq Stock Market), and companies whose securities are quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board.
These reports that a company files with the SEC - including annual reports (with audited financial statements) on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, and periodic reports of significant events on Form 8-K - contain a treasure trove of important information about the company's management, business, and financial condition and can tell you whether the company is making money or losing money and why. Any investor can access (for free) these and other documents by searching the SEC's EDGAR database of company filings.