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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.

Paychex (NASDAQ:PAYX): The whisper number is $0.38, one cent ahead of the analyst estimate. Paychex has a 50% positive surprise history (having topped the whisper in 16 of the 32 earnings reports for which we have data). The average price movement (starting at next market open) within 10 trading days of these 32 earnings reports is 0.4%. The strongest price movement of 1.4% comes within 30 trading days when the company reports earnings that beat the whisper number, and 1.6% within 30 trading days when the company reports earnings that miss the whisper number (positive reactor). More earnings information can be found here.

Red Hat (NYSE:RHT): The whisper number is $0.28, one cent ahead of the analyst estimate. Red Hat has a 58% positive surprise history (having topped the whisper in 21 of the 36 earnings reports for which we have data). The average price movement (starting at next market open) within 10 trading days of these 36 earnings reports is -1.4%. The strongest price movement of 1.5% comes within 10 trading days when the company reports earnings that beat the whisper number, and -6.6% within 10 trading days when the company reports earnings that miss the whisper number. More earnings information can be found here.

Reported today, March 28th:

  • Family Dollar Stores (NYSE:FDO): reported earnings of $1.15, two cents short of the whisper number.
  • - Progress Software (NASDAQ:PRGS): reported earnings of $0.28, three cents ahead of the whisper number.

Price reaction information for FDO and PRGS can be found here.

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 time frame (see link in profile to receive alerts). Since 1998, WhisperNumber.com has been tracking and publishing "crowd sourced 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.

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

Source: Whisper Number Impact: Earnings Preview For Paychex, Red Hat