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Economics and Business: Company Types


Publicly Traded Companies

- Registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and/or its international counterparts

- Offer shares for sale to the general public and is traded on one or more stock exchange like the NASDQ or NYSE

- Ticker Symbol: is an abbreviation that symbolizes the companies' stock name (APPL for Apple).
- Required to make a variety of public disclosures

  • to protect investors
  • ensure equal access to company financials

Important SEC filings include: 

  - the 10-K Annual Report,
  - 10-Q Quarterly Report,
  - 8-K disclosure of material events


    - each company has a report tab

   - SEC's system 

Privately-Held Companies

These companies do not need to make the comprehensive SEC filings that required of publicly-traded companies.

Consequently, the amount, quality, and scope of available information is limited.

Sources for information:

  • Business entity filings
       (i.e. articles of incorporation)
  • Required government filings for companies in regulated industries
       (i.e. banking, insurance, etc.)
  • Newspaper articles
  • Subscription services
  • Voluntary disclosures


According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), there are over 1.5 million registered nonprofit organizations in the U.S.:
1. public charities, 2. private foundations, and 3. other types including chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations and civic leagues.

Information varies greatly.
   - Larger nonprofits may voluntarily disclose financial statements and other useful documents.  
   - 501(c) tax-exempt companies are required to file a Form 990 with the IRS.

  • Guidestar provides information about nonprofits
      - most of it free with registration
  • Nonprofit Explorer just over 600,000 nonprofit organizations
    - organizations that has been recognized as tax exempt by the IRS
    - includes all 27 nonprofit designations
  • The United States of Nonprofits