How to Calculate a Stock's Earnings Surprise

How to Calculate a Stock's Earnings Surprise
An earnings surprise compares the actual earnings per share to the consensus earnings estimate.

Find the stock's consensus estimate per share for the quarter. You can find the consensus earnings estimate for a stock on a stock's quote page on free financial websites. Many brokerage websites also provide consensus earnings estimates for their clients.

Find the stock's reported earnings per share. You can find the reported earnings per share by entering the stock's symbol in a financial site. Most companies also publish their earnings per share on the "Investor Relations" or "About Us" pages of their websites.

Calculate the earnings surprise as a dollar amount by subtracting the consensus earnings estimate from the actual reported earnings. A positive earnings surprise occurs when the reported earnings per share is higher than the consensus earnings estimate. A negative earnings surprise occurs when the reported earnings per share is lower than the consensus earnings estimate.

Calculate the earnings surprise as a percentage by first subtracting the consensus earnings estimate from the actual reported earnings and then dividing that number by the consensus earnings estimate.