Primary Research

Primary research comes directly from the company. Publicly traded corporations are required to file an annual audited 10-K report and an unaudited quarterly 10-Q report with the SEC. The 10-K report, which is comprehensive and is thought of by many as indispensable reading, can be found easily online in your Scottrade account (when you type the company's symbol into the Detailed Quote field under Quotes & Research) or in the SEC's EDGAR database.

The 10-K report includes detailed information including total sales, revenue, operating income, EPS, holdings, subsidiaries, governance structure and history. The footnotes often contain important information about any potential problems affecting the company.

You can also find relevant information from the company itself. A company's Web site, shareholder reports and press releases are good sources of free information.