Publication dates of annual reports/earnings

One of the hardest variables to find, is the publication date of the annual report / annual earnings. Not many databases carry a variable listing the dates for one or more years. In the past, the database Factiva had this variable for 5 years but after the database changed this data is no longer available. The only options to get publication dates are:

  • Websites with calendars that list the publication dates of current and previous annual reports for one or more companies. Company websites often list release dates for their reports
  • Press releases from companies that announce the publication of the report. Press releases are available on websites of companies and also in commercial databases like LexisNexis and Factiva.com.

One of the few databases that carries a variable similar to the publication date is the Compustat North America database. Unfortunately the specific publication dates for annual reports are not available. The report dates for specific quarterly earnings are available, however. The reported publication date of the 4th quarter earnings may serve as an alternative for the publication date of the annual earnings result (in an annual report).
The variable “Report Date of Quarterly earnings” is only available in the part database Fundamentals Quarterly (= covers data from quarterly reports).

To get the data for a large number of companies make sure to include the following variables in the output:

  • DATACQTR – Calendar Data Year and Quarter
  • DATAFQTR – Fiscal Data Year and Quarter
  • FQTR – Fiscal Quarter
  • FYEARQ – Fiscal Year

These variables may be used to filter out the 4th fiscal quarter date (in Excel or SPSS) for each year for one or more companies. The variable that lists the necessary earnings report date is:

  • RDQ – Report Date of Quarterly Earnings

Another variable from the Compustat Fundamentals Quarterly database (in theory) might also serve as a proxy for the annual report publication date: the Final Date. This variable gives the specific date on which the data for that quarter has been definitely finalized. However, a PhD student from the Stockholm School of Economics, Peter Aleksziev, in 2015 did some investigation and came to the conclusion that the Final Date cannot serve as a publication date. By crosschecking the data with the publication dates from IBES (using the variable anndats_act) he found that only in less than 1 percent of his dataset of ±16.000 dates did the yearly date match the Final Dates and the match was also very small when looking around a 5 day interval. The Preliminary Date (PDATE) from Compustat (Segment files) much more closely matched the Annual Report end dates from IBES.

The variable Final Date is also available in the Fundamentals Annual part database (= covers data from annual reports) and there it indicates when the Annual data is finalized:

  • Fundamentals Quarterly variable: FDATEQ = Final Date
  • Fundamentals Annual variable: FDATE = Final Date.

The variable Final Date is also available in the Compustat Global Fundamentals Annual and Quarterly databases.

N.B.1: Compustat North America covers financial data on listed North American companies from (mainly) Canada and the United States of America. Compustat Global covers listed companies from other countries (worldwide, including Europe and Asia).

N.B.2: the IBES database is the Institutional Brokers Estimate System database and is available (when licensed) through platforms like Wharton/WRDS and Datastream.

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