What is a 'Consensus Estimate'

A consensus estimate is a figure based on the combined estimates of the analysts covering a public company. Generally, analysts give a consensus for a company's earnings per share and revenue; these figures are most often made for the quarter, fiscal year and next fiscal year. The size of the company and the number of analysts covering it will dictate the size of the pool from which the estimate is derived.

BREAKING DOWN 'Consensus Estimate'

When you hear that a company has "missed estimates" or "beaten estimates", these are references to consensus estimates. Based on projections, models, sentiments and research, analysts strive to come up with an estimate of what the company will do in the future.

Obviously, consensus estimates are not an exact science. This leads some market pundits to believe that the market is not as efficient as often purported, and that the efficiency is driven by estimates about a multitude of future events that may not be accurate. This might help to explain why a company's stock quickly adjusts to the new information provided by quarterly earnings and revenue numbers when these figures diverge from the consensus estimate.

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