PAF 9152: Nonprofits, Foundations & Company Research - Prof. Seltzer, Spring 2021

Resources for companies that have stock that is publicly traded.

How to Learn What Industries A Publicly-Traded Company Operates In

Publicly-traded companies are those that offer shares of stock to the public and whose shares are traded on stock exchanges located in New York City or elsewhere in the world. 

Such companies may operate in one or more industries.  Many U.S. government resources use the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), in which numeric codes are assigned to industries.  The NAICS codes replaced the earlier Standard Industrial Classification system (SIC) codes, which are still in use by some government agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates publicly-traded companies.

Some databases available through the library offer NAICS codes as a search filter, meaning one may search and retrieve information on companies with the same NAICS codes.

among the government agencies still using SIC Codes is the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  The SIC classification system has not been updated since 1987 so many new industries may not have a code.  Some commercial information companies and vendors have developed their own industry classification systems and may classify companies in more than one primary industries.

Free Source for Filings Made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Filings Made with the Securities & Exchange Commission for Publicly -Traded Companies Helpful for Nonprofit Researchers

These filings made with the Securities & Exchange Commission may provide helpful information.  Keyword searches may be done on the filings using the databases available through the Newman Library.


Annual 10-K filing  provides audited financial statements.  The Management Discussion & Analysis give you information on the company's plans for the future as well as its past performance.  Risks are also discussed. Some reports include references to sustainability reports, or standards used to report and measure the corporation's environmental, social and governance performance.


Proxy Statements (Definitive 14A)   These include shareholders' proposals; how the management suggests that shareholders vote on the proposal(s), and profiles of board members and executives and those running for the board of directors.  Compensation is also found in this statement.  The shareholders' proposals in the proxy statements suggest actions that some shareholders want the company to make.  They might be social or environmentally related.

8-K filings  A company must make an 8-k filing whenever there is a company event that is likely to impact the share price of the stock.  These can include new contracts, new products; expansions; new key employees or resignations or terminations of existing executives and board members; 

4-K filings   Officers and directors of publicly-traded companies ("company insiders') are required to  quarterly report material changes in the purchases or sales of company stock.  Some who do prospecting and fundraising for nonprofits review these reports.

Databases Available Through the Newman Library to Search Public Company Filings

Additional Library Research Guides to Consult