Researching a company or business requires looking at several different resources. It is usually easier to find detailed information on companies that are publicly-traded, as they are required to provide regular information to stockholders, than on privately-held companies or small businesses.
Public Companies issue stock and trade on one of the stock exchanges. They are required to register and file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Public companies will have a ticker symbol that is used as a substitute for the company's name on the exchange on which shares in the company trade.
Ex. The North Face ticker symbol is VFC.
Private Companies do not have to register and file reports with the SEC and do not trade stocks. It will be harder to find financial and other information about private companies.
Ex. Burton is a private company.
A Subsidiary company is one that is owned by another company. Financial information on a subsidiary is sometimes not available and it is necessary to read the reports of the parent company.