Finding Business Information at U of T

November 16, 2016

By Holly Inglis*

Business research can be more challenging than expected, particularly because most of the business resources cannot be searched through the library catalogue.  Law students who are interested in company or industry information related to case research (particularly for tax law, or looking at mergers and acquisitions that have already occurred in an industry) or JD/MBA students can get started with the following resources available here at the University of Toronto.

The Rotman Business Information Centre has a direct list on our “Databases by Subject” page and we also have research guides for company research, industry research, and market research information.  All of these resources are available through the library catalogue and off-campus with your UTORid.

Finding public company information

Public companies are required to disclose specific information to their investors.  This information is freely available online, usually on the company’s website, but in Canada, a company’s annual filings must be filed with SEDAR.  Filings since 1997 are available on the SEDAR website and you can download any of the information available as a PDF.  This is not ideal for financials so this is when going to a database such as Mergent or Capital IQ can be more efficient for your needs.  They have downloaded the information from SEDAR and repackaged it to make it more searchable and you can download financials in Excel, compare them to other companies, run screenings, and more.  Mergent and Capital IQ also have US company filings, which are available online via EDGAR.  In EDGAR, recent years’ filings include financials in Excel forms, however a lot of other files are .txt files.

Disclosure doesn’t mean that you can find everything about company.  If they are a large corporation, the information is compiled as opposed to being able to find data specific to a particular plant or store. Subsidiaries are private and do not have to disclose the same information as their public parent company.  If you cannjot find information from a

Private Companies

One of the biggest challenges is finding information on private companies.  Private companies are not required to disclose any information.  If you can’t find information on a private companies, the odds are that it’s not your search skills, it’s that they haven’t made anything available. The best resources for private companies tend to their own websites and any social media profiles; directories; or news or trade magazine articles about the company.  Think outside of the box – if you’re interested in what the company is developing, you could check job postings to see where they’re hiring. Find out who their competitors are, and if the competitors are public, there is likely analysis available regarding the industry or markets that could be useful for you.

Corporate Social Responsibility Reports

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports are voluntarily produced by companies in Canada and can be found on company websites. This is an overview of their sustainable development, diversity, and other social responsibility initiatives.  Though CSRs are not required, they are becoming more commonplace and the federal government in Canada has created standards for a few industries, such as mining and garment manufacturing industries.

Market research versus industry research  

Aren’t they the same thing?  No, though they may have overlapping information.  Market research reports present an analysis of the potential or current market for a product or service.  Industry reports are on the state of an industry and include information on the geographic and economic influences that affect the industry.

For subscription resources, try IBISWorld for industry reports. U of T subscribes to the Canadian, US, and global reports.  If you’re looking for market research reports, try  Market share, brand share, and industry and market summaries by Euromonitor are available via Passport GMID.  If you are looking for ratios to compare companies, they are available in some industry reports, and we have a subscription to Key Business Ratios as well.

If you have any business research questions, please don’t hesitate to contact *Holly Inglis, Public Services Librarian, Rotman Business Information Centre.

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