Updated on May 4, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Earnings Meaning

Earnings are usually defined as the net income of the company which is obtained after reducing the cost of sales, operating expenses, interest, and taxes from all the sales revenue for a specific time period. In an individual’s case, it comprises wages or salaries, or other payments. For publicly listed companies, earnings per share is a common metric to gauge performance.


This metric determines the share price of a company adversely. Since they have an effect on the stock price, it is prone to manipulation to a large extent. It also gives the company an idea of its performance in a specific period in comparison to previous such time frames. A company that beats analysts’ expectations is looked at as a lucrative entity for investors.

Earnings Explained

Earnings of a company are crucial determinant since it calculates the share price of the company. Share price determines the going concernGoing ConcernAny analyst analyzing a company will be left to a basic assumption that the company does not go bankrupt or file a chapter 11 bankruptcy. This basic assumption allows the analyst to think that there is no immediate danger to the company. The company can operate until infinity is called the principle of going concern.read more of the company according to the profitability capabilities. It helps in determining whether it will be profitable in the long run or not. These are the most critical measure for stakeholders that have a massive impact on their decisions towards the company. It helps in making comparison, deriving estimates, and analyzing past trends of the company with the industry.

Therefore, they are the final and net income of a company after reducing all the operating expensesOperating ExpensesOperating expense (OPEX) is the cost incurred in the normal course of business and does not include expenses directly related to product manufacturing or service delivery. Therefore, they are readily available in the income statement and help to determine the net profit.read more as well as other debt-related costs and taxes. They are the final income available in the hands of the shareholders. These are not similar to the profits of the company.

However, there are a few exceptions when investors ignore the low numbers from the earnings calculator for a year or a quarter as the business is developing multiple verticals or undergoing a transition, or even during infrastructural development. Investors who look at the term growth of the company stay invested in the company despite the low earnings for a quarter or even a couple of years for that matter if the company shows great potential.

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How To Calculate?

They are generally determined as earnings available for the shareholders of the company. From the after-tax profitsAfter-tax ProfitsProfit After Tax is the revenue left after deducting the business expenses and tax liabilities. This profit is reflected in the Profit & Loss statement of the business.read more of the company, the profits shared with the senior class of shareholders of the company have to be subtracted like preference shareholders. The remaining profits are the company’s profits available for the shareholders, which shall be distributed among shareholders in ratio. The share that each shareholder get is thus their earnings per share.

Earnings Calculation

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Let us understand how to use the earnings calculator with the help of a couple of examples. These examples will give us practical insights into the concept.

Example #1

ABC company has after-tax profits of $100,000. The company has 1,000 preferred shareholdersPreferred ShareholdersA preferred share is a share that enjoys priority in receiving dividends compared to common stock. The dividend rate can be fixed or floating depending upon the terms of the issue. Also, preferred stockholders generally do not enjoy voting rights. However, their claims are discharged before the shares of common stockholders at the time of liquidation.read more who are guaranteed dividends of $ 30 per year and 10,000 common stock shareholders.

In this case, the guaranteed dividend to the preferred shareholders is distributed first from the after-tax profits. The dividend distributed is $ 30,000, which is subtracted from after-tax profits. The remaining $ 70,000 in profits are the earnings available for the common stock shareholders.

Example #2

The S&P500 was expected to fall by 5.1% in the first quarter of 2023. However, the earnings of the index rose by a 0.1%. However, the earnings of the top 500 companies combined is expected to fall by 5.6% in the second quarter.

The last quarter of 2022 saw a drop in earnings of S&P500 companies by 3.2%. Had the first quarter shown a decline as well, it would have invoked what experts call a recession. Therefore, the improvement of a marginal 0.1% was celebrated among investors and market experts as the recession would have had an adverse effect on the economy as thousands more could have been laid off from their jobs. In fact, large corporations had already started laying employees off in thousands fearing the recession even before the end of the first quarter.


Commonly, the results from an earnings calculator are measured by reducing the cost of sales, operating expenses, and taxes from all the sales revenue for a specific period. They are measured in different ways, depending on the analysts. The most common measure of profitability is the calculation of earnings per shareEarnings Per ShareEarnings Per Share (EPS) is a key financial metric that investors use to assess a company's performance and profitability before investing. It is calculated by dividing total earnings or total net income by the total number of outstanding shares. The higher the earnings per share (EPS), the more profitable the company is.read more. The other measures are Earnings Before Taxes (EBTEBTPretax income is a company's net earnings calculated after deducting all the expenses, including cash expenses like salary expense, interest expense, and non-cash expenses like depreciation and other charges from the total revenue generated before deducting the income tax expense.read more), Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBITEBITEarnings before interest and tax (EBIT) refers to the company's operating profit that is acquired after deducting all the expenses except the interest and tax expenses from the revenue. It denotes the organization's profit from business operations while excluding all taxes and costs of capital.read more), Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDAEBITDAEBITDA refers to earnings of the business before deducting interest expense, tax expense, depreciation and amortization expenses, and is used to see the actual business earnings and performance-based only from the core operations of the business, as well as to compare the business's performance with that of its competitors.read more). The analysts use such measures based on their purpose and requirements. The ratios are also calculated to determine the earnings of an organization like EPS, PE RatioPE RatioThe price to earnings (PE) ratio measures the relative value of the corporate stocks, i.e., whether it is undervalued or overvalued. It is calculated as the proportion of the current price per share to the earnings per share. read more, yield, etc.


Let us understand the importance of earnings per share and how earnings is an important metric for investors and shareholders to gauge the performance of a company through the discussion below.

  • Earnings are an essential measure for all the stakeholders of the company to review their decisions.
  • Investors are highly affected by the net income of a company as it drives stock prices. It tells about the financial health of a company and the value of the stock of the company.
  • The dividends are paid to the shareholders based on the net income of the company.

Earnings vs. Profits

There is a common confusion between earnings and profits. Despite the fact that they indicate similar metric of a company, there are a few differences in their fundamentals and implications. Let us understand the differences through the comparison below.

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