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Net income post-tax, showing the bottom line or profits of the business. Perhaps the most significant and carefully scrutinized statistic in a company's financial filings is its earnings. It displays a company's actual profitability in comparison to analyst forecasts, historical results, rivals' earnings, and peers' earnings in the same industry. Earnings are the primary factor in determining a public company's share price because they can only be applied in one of two ways: either investing them in the firm to boost future earnings, or paying dividends to owners.

  • Profits during a quarter or year are earnings.
  • Earnings are used to value stocks.
  • Earnings are utilized in numerous ratios.
  • Earnings affect stock price, hence they may be manipulated.

Understand Earnings
Earnings are a company's profit produced over a period, usually a quarter or a year. After each quarter, analysts wait for company earnings reports. Earnings are have direct correlation to how well or not a company is performing. 
Earnings that miss analysts' forecasts can affect a stock's price in the short run. If analysts expect earnings of $1 per share and they come in at $0.75, the stock price may decrease on that earnings miss.
Investors like companies that outperform earnings forecasts. A company that frequently misses earnings projections may be viewed as an unappealing and risky investment, or it may need to strengthen its financial forecasting ability in order to provide better profits guidance. As a result, a company that misses earnings usually suffers a drop in its stock price. Obviously this is a generalization.  Depending on the company, and the circumstance surrounding the company, these consequences may vary. For example some investors, might see the long-term potential of that specific company, and it will attracted more, especially if they can get in at a discount price.
As long as a company is growing and is investing in future earnings, they can withstand a few poor quarters. However management needs to be able to provide a good and reassuring explanation.
And then there are companies, such as Google, that underpromise and overdeliver. As a result, Google has historically exceeded earnings projections. Analysts understood this and incorporated Google's conservative policy into EPS forecasts.

Earnings Measures
Earnings is used in different ways. Some analysts calculate pre-tax earnings (EBT). Analysts favor EBIT (EBIT). Other experts, notably in industries with many fixed assets, favor EBITDA.  All three figures represent differing degrees of profitability measurement.

Shared earnings
EPS shows a company's profits per share. Divide the company's total earnings by its outstanding shares.

Earnings define the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio.
Earnings define the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Investors and analysts use the price-to-earnings ratio to compare businesses in the same sector or industry.
A corporation with a high P/E relative to its peers may be overvalued. A corporation with low price to earnings may be undervalued.

Profitability or Earnings yield
Earnings yield is the latest 12-month earnings per share divided by the current share price. It's the inverse of P/E.

Earnings Critique
Managers may be motivated to manipulate earnings since they affect share price. Legal and unethical. Some corporations try to influence investors by prominently presenting earnings on their financial statements to disguise flaws like dubious accounting techniques or a reduction in sales. These companies tend to have bad earnings.
Earnings per share may be overstated through share buybacks or other means of reducing outstanding shares. Companies might repurchase shares with retained earnings or debt to give the appearance of higher profits per share.
Other firms may buy a smaller firm with a higher P/E to boost their own numbers.
When profits manipulations are uncovered, the accounting problem generally leads to falling stock prices.

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