Whisper number

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Whisper numbers are the "unofficial and unpublished earnings per share (EPS) forecasts that circulate among professionals on Wall Street... generally reserved for the favored (wealthy) clients of a brokerage." According to Per Afrell, a former analyst at UBS Warburg, buy and sell side research analysts generally maintain a 20 plus page spreadsheet to calculate their earnings per share estimates. When the estimate is first calculated by sell-side analysts, the number is submitted to companies such as First Call to be averaged with other analysts’ estimates for the consensus earnings estimate. As new information is made available and plugged into the spreadsheet, the calculation may change several times leading up to a company’s actual earnings release. However, the analyst is generally not going to issue a new report and revise his or her published estimate with each new calculation, resulting in the analyst’s true expectations differing from his or her published number. Therefore, when someone within the firm, an institutional client, or even a retail client asks the analyst his or her expectation for the company, the response is often different than the published estimate. This number then gets passed among trading desks and professional traders as the whisper number.

Because the whisper number is the analysts’ true expectation, it tends to be more accurate than the officially published consensus estimates. The Wall Street Journal found one website that...
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