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Earnings Surprise

Updated: Apr 26

An earnings surprise occurs when a company's reported quarterly or annual profits are above or below analysts' expectations. These analysts, who work for a variety of financial firms and reporting agencies, base their expectations on a variety of sources, including previous quarterly or annual reports and current market conditions, as well as the company's own earnings' predictions or "guidance."


Breaking Down Earnings Surprise

In order to create an accurate forecast of how a specific company’s stock will perform, an analyst must gather information from several sources. They need to speak with the company’s management, visit that company, study its products and closely watch the industry in which it operates. Then, the analyst will create a mathematical model that incorporates what the analyst has learned and reflects their judgment or expectation of that company’s earnings for the forthcoming quarter. The expectations may be published by the company on its website, and will be distributed to the analyst’s clients. A surprise occurs when a company reports numbers that deviate from those estimates.


Earnings surprises can have a huge impact on a company's stock price. Several studies suggest that positive earnings surprises not only lead to an immediate hike in a stock's price, but also to a gradual increase over time. Hence, it's not surprising that some companies are known for routinely beating earning projections. A negative earnings surprise will usually result in a decline in share price.


Source: Investopedia, Earnings Surprise: Overview, Examples, and Formulas, accessed 24 December 2023, <https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/earningssurprise.asp>

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