|This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2007)|
An earnings call is a teleconference, or increasingly a webcast, in which a public company discusses the financial results of a reporting period via an 800 number and on the internet. The name comes from the bottom line numbers in the income statement - earnings per share. The U.S. based National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) says that 92% of companies represented by their members conduct earnings calls and that virtually all of these are webcast. Transcripts of calls may be made available either by the company or a third party.
The calls are usually preceded or accompanied by a press release containing a summary of the financial results, and possibly also by a more detailed filing under securities law. Earnings calls usually happen, or at least begin, while the stock market on which the company's shares are traded is closed to trading, so that all investors will have had a chance to hear management's presentation before or after trading in the stock resumes. NIRI issued an updated "best practices" on earnings news releases and conferences calls document available to members and others (July 11, 2013). To obtain a copy of the Standards of Practices go to http://www.niri.org/Main-Menu-Category/resource/publications/Executive-Alert/NIRI-Releases-Updated-Standards-of-Practice-for-Earnings-Release-Content.aspx
Generally, the call will begin with a company official, typically the Investor Relations Officer (IRO) reading a safe harbor statement to limit the company's liability should the future prove different from that stated in the discussion. Then one or more company officials, often including the Chief executive officer and Chief financial officer will discuss the operational results and financial statements for the period just ended and their outlook for the future. The teleconference will then be opened for questions by investors, financial analysts, and other call participants. Management will answer many of these questions, although if the data is not available to them they may decline or defer response. Depending on the size and complexity of the company, the difference between actual and expected results, and other factors, the length of the call will vary.
There is no general requirement for how far in advance notice of a call must be given. However, keeping the investor and analyst communities happy is part of management's job, so the call will generally be announced a few days or weeks in advance. If the company has a website, there will probably be a section titled Investor Relations or Investors - this is the most likely part of their website to contain both call schedules and archived past calls.
Many companies are tracked by financial analysts that publish estimates of earnings per share. The company may also provide guidance as to what earnings per share are likely to be. If management knows that its results are going to be significantly different from its guidance or from analyst expectations, it may choose to make a preannouncement of differing results.
If the call occurs within 48 hours of a press release furnished to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on form 8-K and meets certain other criteria there is no obligation to separately report the call to the SEC. Otherwise, it must be reported on form 8-K. If the call contains non-GAAP information there are additional requirements under SEC regulations, including Regulation FD.
Companies headquartered in the United States with securities traded on a U.S. based stock market or other exchange are required to file audited annual reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Form 10-K following the end of a fiscal year and unaudited reports on Form 10-Q following the end of a fiscal quarter. These companies will announce earnings quarterly and generally hold an earnings call quarterly.
Some companies with shares traded on foreign stock exchanges also have American depositary receipts (ADRs) that are traded on U.S. exchanges and are required to file Forms 20-F and 6-K with the SEC. (Not all companies with ADRs need to file these forms.) They are likely to have their earnings announcements and calls coordinated with the schedule required in the country where their shares are traded.
- The National Investor Relations Institute provides a FAQ, from U.S. corporate management's point of view, about how to handle earnings calls.
- Yahoo! Finance hosts audio from many current and recent earnings calls of public U.S. companies.
- EarningsCast also hosts many current and recent earnings calls of public U.S. companies.
- Seeking Alpha hosts many recent earnings call transcripts.
- Earnings Impact Read the latest Transcripts of Earnings conference calls, Business Updates, Sales Calls, Brokerage Presentations, M&A, Shareholder Meets, Analyst Events and Investor meets of listed stocks around the globe.