How to Find out How Much a Business Makes

It's not hard to find out how much money publicly traded companies make, as they're required to publicly disclose their financial statements. The same requirements don't apply to privately held companies, so it’s difficult for anyone other than company insiders or privileged individuals to find out how much money a private company earns. Anyone can access the financial statements of public companies via the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval online filing system, better known as EDGAR.

Search a company’s name or ticker symbol in the EDGAR database. This is where you can find a publicly traded company’s financial statements for the current and previous reporting periods. A number of filings associated with the company you’re researching might show up, because the company might have subsidiaries, each of which files separately. You have to scroll through the list of company filings until you find the main corporation you’re looking for.

Open and review the corporation’s most recent 10-Q report if you want to see how much money a company made during the past quarter. Although the information in this report only encompasses three months, it does show how much money the company is making or is going to make for the annual period. The 10-Q report has a variety of management assertions about the state of the business, a complete set of financial statements and supplementary financial information.

Open and review the most recent 10-K report, which is the annual report that details the financial performance of a company. It also contains a management discussion and analysis section that outlines management’s opinions about the future of the company and the state of ongoing operations. In this report, you can find a detailed income statement showing how much money the company made. You can also break down how much money was made by different business units or operating segments, making it easier to gauge the company’s performance.

Scroll through the interactive-data feature that lets you manipulate various types of financial information and schedules. This allows you to evaluate the income statement for the current period, along with other important statements and schedules showing the performance of the company. You can browse financial statements simply by clicking on the reports you’re after. The same data are in the 10-K report, but they are dispersed and harder to scroll through.