Publicly held companies in the United States, those that trade on the U.S. stock exchange, are required by law to disclose information such as their quarterly earning reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This information is available to the company’s shareholders and the public. Privately held companies are not required to do disclose financial information because they do not trade on the U.S. stock exchange. Generally, it is more difficult to research a private company than a public company. If you are researching a small private company, you may need to rely more heavily on local news and information sources.