The premier research database for historical numerical analyst forecast data is IBES (or I/B/E/S ) from Thomson Reuters.
If you want the number of analysts who are covering a company the best estimate is the number of analysts who provide an earnings per share estimate (EPS) for the next (to be announced) financial year (FY1). This is the variable estimated by most analysts.
At the University of Manchester we have access to IBES through WRDS. For the number of analysts we can use the IBES summary data rather than the detailed data at the individual analyst level.
Selecting IBES – Summary History – Summary Statistics
Select dates and the company codes
Measures – EPS (Earnings Per Share)
Forecast Period Indicator – Fiscal Year 1
Identifying Information – <as required>
Other Variables – Number of Estimates
The results will be similar to these.
INTEL CP (ticker INTC, cusip 45814010) in January 2010 had 43 analysts giving an estimate for EPS of next forecast period (fpi 1). The next forecast period was the company fiscal year ending 31 December 2010 (fpedats 20101231) and the number of analysts was calculated on 14 January 20101 (statpers 20100114).
Note that the number of analysts (numest) varies monthly. IBES considers that an analysts estimate is only valid for a certain period of time. If analysts do not update or confirm their estimate within this period then it is removed from the number of estimates.
The IBES summary data is also available through Datastream.
The Datastream variable EPS1NE – Earnings Per Share Total Number of Estimates in the Mean FY1 – is the same variable that was obtained using the WRDS IBES Summary Statistics query described above.
Datastream makes it easy to retrieve EPS1NET – EPS Total Number of Estimates (including those excluded from the Mean) FY1 – in January 2010 this was 44, rather than 43 for EPS1NE.
This expands on the July 2010 post No of Analysts covering a company
We recently got access to IBES (I/B/E/S – Insitutional Brokers’ Estimate System) from Thomson Reuters on WRDS. This is excellent for researchers who want to access large quantities of brokers’ estimate data, for example when dealing with the detailed estimates collected on an individual broker basis.
Summary (or Consensus) IBES data is also available on Thomson One Banker and Datastream. This consensus data is gathered monthly so gives a record of how brokers’ expected/expect a company to perform in terms of several variables. (Earnings per Share (EPS) is the most forecast of these.)
How many analysts provide estimates for a company? It sounds like a simple question but there are some complications (see below). However, we can relatively easily find:
Number of analysts providing EPS (Earnings per Share) estimates for the next financial year (FY1).
EPS is the most estimated financial variable and most analysts covering a company will estimate it for the next financial year.
This variable is part of the IBES summary data available through Thomson One Banker or Datastream:
- ThomsonOneBanker – data item IBH.EPSNbrEstFY1
- Datastream – datatype F1NE (or F1NET if available)
This data is available monthly (not all analysts covering a company will estimate every month so it can vary over the year).
See also Number of Analysts from IBES (posted June 2014) that gives details of how to get this information from IBES on WRDS.
Why knowing exactly how many analysts cover a company is hard.
First, there is no requirement for brokers and analysts to record what companies they are following. The ThomsonReuters IBES database, which is the most used analysts estimates database for research, is gathered by asking brokers/analysts to be involved and provide their estimates on a monthly basis.
Second, analysts coverage of a company can vary in detail. They provide estimates for a number of key financial variables but the choice of variables will vary between analysts.
Using the IBES detailed database, it would be possible to write a program to count the number of distinct analysts who provided an estimate for any financial variable for a company within a chosen time period. However, if within a broker one analyst estimates EPS, and another analyst estimates Sales, is that 2 analysts covering the company or just one?
Research on analysts’ estimates often involves comparing the estimates with the actual reported values, and knowing the date that the actual value was reported can be important. For example, the Glaxosmithkline EPS for the year to Dec 2009, was reported in 4 Feb 2010.
While IBES on Datastream gives access to the consensus forecasts for EPS and other variables, it does not include this actual report date.
The actual report date is also available from:
- ThomsonOneBanker – database IBES, variable EPSActualReportDate
- IBES – Detailed Actuals File, Announcement Date
- FactSet ExcelConnect – [to be confirmed]
- Compustat (for North American companies) – RDQ, Report Date of Quarterly Earnings (in Fundamentals Quarterly)