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Expected earnings reports and the whisper number impact for March 28th, 2012, before market open.

Knowing how likely a stock's price will move following an earnings report will help you make better trades. Many investors believe that beating or missing the whisper number has the greatest impact on stock movement. If the number is exceeded, the stock is rewarded and prices move higher. If the number is missed, the stock is punished and prices move lower. Unlike the analysts estimate, the 'whisper number' from WhisperNumber.com has actually been proven to have a greater impact on stock movement.

Family Dollar Stores (FDO): The whisper number is $1.17, four cents ahead of the analysts estimate. FDO has a 51% positive surprise history (having topped the whisper in 18 of the 35 earnings reports for which we have data). The average price movement (starting at next market open) within ten trading days of these thirty-five earnings reports is +0.8%. The strongest price movement of +5.5% comes within thirty trading days when the company reports earnings that beat the whisper number, and -0.4% within thirty trading days when the company reports earnings that miss the whisper number. Last quarter the company reported earnings five cents short of the whisper number. Following that report the stock realized a 5.1% loss in one trading day. More earnings information can be found here.

Progress Software (PRGS): The whisper number is $0.25, in-line with the analysts estimate. PRGS has a 53% positive surprise history (having topped the whisper in 8 of the 15 earnings reports for which we have data). The average price movement (starting at next market open) within ten trading days of these fifteen earnings reports is +0.3%. The strongest price movement of +3.8% comes within thirty trading days when the company reports earnings that beat the whisper number, and -9.0% within thirty trading days when the company reports earnings that miss the whisper number. Last quarter the company reported earnings nine cents ahead of the whisper number. Following that report the stock realized a 4.8% loss in one trading day, before turning positive and seeing a 26% gain in thirty trading days. More earnings information can be found here.

Reported today, March 27th:
- Walgreen (WAG) reported earnings of $0.78, two cents ahead of the whisper number. More info here.
- Lennar Corp (LEN) reported earnings of $0.08, four cents ahead of the whisper number.
- McCormick Co. (MKC) reported earnings of $0.55, in-line with the whisper number.

When analyzing the data collected by WhisperNumber.com, the most important aspects are how a company reacts to beating or missing the whisper number, the average post-earnings price movement, and in what timeframe. Since 1998, WhisperNumber.com has been tracking and publishing crowdsourced estimates for earnings. Keep in mind that trading on whispers is a technical play on market psychology, rather than a bet on a company's fundamental strengths.

A company's reaction to the whisper number expectation is the key - on average companies that exceed the whisper are rewarded, while companies that miss are punished following an earnings report.

According to The Wall Street Journal:

The percentage of companies that have beaten expectations often is cited as a barometer of corporate profitability, an indicator of how well the economy as a whole is doing or a predictor of where the stock market is going. What goes unsaid, however, is that these positive surprises are becoming so common they are nearly universal. They are predetermined in a cynical tango-clinch between companies and the analysts who cover them. And there is no reliable evidence that the stock market as a whole will earn higher returns after periods with more positive surprises.

In short, there isn't anything surprising about earnings surprises. They aren't the exception; they are the rule. "All the numbers are gamed at this point," says James A. Bianco, president of Bianco Research.

Whisper numbers provide the unbiased earnings expectation proven more significant than the analysts estimates.

Disclaimer: All trading involves risk, and the information presented is not intended to be a recommendation of any kind.

Source: Whisper Number Impact: Earnings Previews For Family Dollar, Progress Software