What is it and why is it important?

Provided by Tiffany Valentine, CFP®
Vice President and Director of Financial Planning

While nature offers four seasons, Wall Street offers only one – four times a year. It’s called “earnings season,” and it can move the markets. So, what is earnings season, and why is it important?

Earnings season is the month of the year that follows each calendar quarter-end month (January, April, July, and October). It is the time during which many public companies release quarterly earnings reports. Some public companies report earnings at other times during the year, but many are on the calendar year that ends December 31.1

Reported Earnings. To understand the importance of earnings, we need to remember that the value of a company can be tied to the amount of money it earns. Some companies don’t have earnings, and they are valued based on their potential rather than their current earnings.

Wall Street analysts maintain a close pulse on a company’s quarterly report to help estimate future earnings. For example, these estimates may guide investors in determining an appropriate price for a company’s stock. Remember, a company is not permitted to discuss interim earnings with select individuals; earnings reports must be disseminated publicly to level the playing field for all investors.1,2

An Inside Look. When an earnings report is released, it tells the market two things.

First, it offers an insight into how the company is performing and what its prospects may look like over the near term.1

And second, the report can serve as a bellwether for similar companies that still have not reported. For instance, if the earnings of a leading retailer are strong, it may offer an insight into the earnings of other retailers, as well as other companies that similarly benefit from higher consumer spending.

What Time? Earnings reports are generally released when the market is closed in order to provide market participants adequate time to digest the results. Earnings reports may move markets. If earnings diverge from the expectations of professional investors and traders, then price swings – up or down – may be significant. Such a divergence is referred to as an “earnings surprise.”

If you are a “buy-and-hold” investor and feel confident in a company’s long-term prospects, earnings season may mean little to you, since short-term results may not impact your long-term outlook. However, earnings reports can be meaningful if an earnings shortfall reflects a structural problem with a business or represents the continuation of a downward trend in earnings.

For that reason, it may be wise for you to keep an eye on earnings season. Information about growth, decline, and other changes to a company can be important in understanding the value of maintaining certain investments. Of course, it can also be important to have help in understanding data; a trusted financial professional may be of assistance if you have questions and concerns as you invest.

Tiffany Valentine, CFP® is a Registered Representative with and securities and financial planning offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. CA Insurance License # 0D73175

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – investopedia.com/terms/e/earningsseason.asp [3/19/2018]
2 – barrons.com/articles/corporate-earnings-season-highlights-1539733720 [10/17/2018]