If you are reading this blog post, chances are good that you know what an earnings date is. But in case you don't, it's the date on which a public company makes an official statement regarding its profitability for a specific time period, typically a quarter or a year. Most financial professionals pay close attention to company earnings announcements for the obvious reason of wanting to know how well a company has done relative to their previous financial performance, analyst estimates or their peers. A subset of people however pay very close attention to the actual "date" of the earnings announcement because as academic research has shown, firm-initiated revisions to earnings announcement dates can predict a firm's future earnings news and provide a signal for superior investment returns.
Behind the Scenes
Now, if you are a Wall Street Horizon client you are probably familiar with how we track the precise status and timing of earnings announcements. If you are not a client, here is a behind the scenes look at how we monitor and classify the earnings dates for the 5,000 North American equities we follow.
To begin with, all earnings dates are either Tentative (unconfirmed) or Verified (confirmed). Tentative dates are either obtained from a company's investor relations (IR) department or derived from our proprietary algorithms that calculate a future earnings date based on a company's historical patterns and profile.
Verified dates, while typically included in a company's pre-announcement press release, can sometimes be hard to find. Since there is no regulatory requirement for a company to pre-announce their next earnings date, many firms decide to simply publish their next earnings date somewhere on their website. Hopefully its clearly visible on the company's IR page, but don't be too surprised to find it buried in a company PowerPoint presentation somewhere else.
"Set it and Forget It"
Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are an event driven investor/trader) earnings dates are not like the "Set it and forget it!" Showtime Rotisserie that was so successfully pitched by American inventor and marketer Ron Popeil. Tentative and verified earnings dates change a lot. In fact, Wall Street Horizon analysts tracked over 3,500 date changes in Q3 2015 alone. And if you include the number of times a date was reclassified from tentative to verified, or vice versa, where the date did not change, that number grows to over 6,000. Here are the various classifications we use for earnings date/status changes.
DTT - Tentative Date has changed to a different Tentative Date
DTV - Tentative Date has changed and is now a Verified Date.
DVT - Verified Date has changed and become a Tentative Date
DVV - Verified Date and changed to a different Verified Date
XTV - Tentative Date is now a Verified Date and date has not changed
XVT - Verified Date has become a Tentative Date and date has not changed
XVV - Verified Date is unchanged but Time of Day has changed
There are also two other types of changes not covered above, but worth mentioning. How about that company that verifies its earnings date and time and then announces earnings at a different date or time without telling anyone? Or the company that never announces their quarterly earnings due perhaps to a pending merger, acquisition or bankruptcy filing? We keep very close track of these events as well and the companies that never report go into our Penalty Box. While we will continue to follow those in the Penalty Box, they will only be added back into our data products when they are able to reestablish a track record of announcing their earnings in a timely fashion.
Not All Dates are Created Equal
So, while there is no shortage of places online or in big financial data applications where you can find a company's earnings date, if you need to be certain its accurate, or care to know if it has recently changed, please let us know!