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Business Research: Public or Private?

Is the company public or private...and why does it matter?

A public company has sold partial ownership to the public, usually through stock transactions. It is required to file details regarding its financial performance on a regular basis with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

The ownership of a private company is closely held. It has not sold partial ownership to the public and is not required to reveal the details of its financial performance through reports filed with the government.

It is usually much more difficult to obtain financial details about a private company. Look for news articles and evaluate the competitor information for public companies in the same industry.

Sources to identify the public/private status of a company

Ward's Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public Companies

  • Reference HG 4057 .A3 W375

Quick sources for information about public companies

Quick sources for information about private companies

Ward's Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public Companies

  • Reference HG 4057 .A3 W375

The ownership of a private company is closely held. It has not sold partial ownership to the public and is not required to reveal the details of its financial performance through reports filed with the government.

It is usually much more difficult to obtain financial details about a private company. Look for news articles and evaluate the competitor information for public companies in the same industry. A limited amount of information about private companies may be found in the UCF library's subscription databases about businesses.

Be aware that information from non-official sources may be speculative or intentionally inaccurate.

Some other subscription services exist with a focus on private companies, but there are no funds currently available at the UCF library to purchase those subscriptions.