Is Wal-Mart Poised to Beat the Whisper Number?

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) is expected to report earnings on Thursday, February 20. The whisper number is $1.64, four cents ahead of the analysts’ estimate. Whispers range from a low of $1.62 to a high of $1.67. Wal-Mart has a 52 percent positive surprise history, having topped the whisper in 25 of the 48 earnings reports for which we have data.

Earnings history:

– Beat whisper: 25 qtrs
– Met whisper: 2 qtrs
– Missed whisper: 21 qtrs

Our primary focus is on post earnings price movement. Knowing how likely a stock’s price will move following an earnings report can help you determine the best action to take (long or short). In other words, we look at what happens when the company beats or misses the whisper number expectation.

The table below indicates the average post earnings price movement within a one and thirty trading day timeframe.


The strongest price movement of -2.2 percent comes within thirty trading days when the company reports earnings that beat the whisper number, and -1.7 percent within twenty trading days when the company reports earnings that miss the whisper number. While the strongest price moves are negative, the overall average price move is ‘as expected’ (beat the whisper number and see strength, miss and see weakness) when the company reports earnings.

The table below indicates the most recent earnings reports and short-term price reaction.


The company has reported earnings ahead of the whisper number in one of the past four quarters with a whisper number. In the comparable quarter last year, the company reported earnings sixteen cents ahead of the whisper number. Following that report, the stock realized a 1.6 percent gain in five trading days. Last quarter, the company did not have a whisper number. Overall historical data indicates the company to be (on average) an ‘as expected’ price reactor when the company reports earnings.

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John Scherr is the founder and President of, an independent financial research firm focused on earnings expectations. He is a regular contributor to CNBC and Fox Business Network, and has been featured in Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, and MarketWatch. He is considered a leading expert on ‘whisper numbers’ and post earnings price movement analysis. provides specific earnings trade alerts to take advantage of earnings report price movement with their Whisper Reactors subscription service.