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Q: When, and what, is “earnings season”?

Public companies are required to report on their earnings and financial condition every quarter, and they do so with three quarterly 10-Q reports and an annual 10-K report.

They’re free to structure their fiscal year as they want, and while many companies end their years at the conclusion of December, others choose the end of March or some other time.

Earnings reports are typically issued a few weeks after the end of the quarter, and market watchers will see most American companies releasing their reports from early January through February, from early April through May, from early July through August, and from early October through November.

These are our four “earnings seasons.” They’re of interest to many investors because new data is available, and analysts and commentators will often issue fresh or revised opinions on companies.

Savvy investors will learn to make sense of the reports themselves — which isn’t as hard as you might think.

Stock prices can also surge or swoon on earnings report, when results are surprisingly good or bad.

The Motley Fool