Company web sites can provide a wealth of information, particularly for public companies. Look for press releases, investor information including presentations and events and filings such as SEC filings, annual reports or corporate social responsibility or "community" reports. Use information from the company carefully and watch for bias or an overly-optimistic interpretation of factual data.
Information on private companies can be sparse. Private companies are not required to file any financial data in the U.S., with exception of registration data filed with the Secretary of State, in the state where they are registered. Databases like Reference USA have some basic data on private companies. Often 'local press' have more stories on a locally based company than national newspapers. (e.g. Jacksonville Times-Union news versus The New York Times). Local newspapers can be found on Proquest and LexisNexis Academic.
Beta is an estimated measure of the expected response of a stock, bond, or portfolio to the overall market. If a company has a beta of 1.3 has an expected excess return of 1.3 times the market excess return. Beta provides a means for measuring portfolio risk and proivdes a strong relationship of expected return