Seasonality

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Seasonality'

A characteristic of a time series in which the data experiences regular and predictable changes which recur every calendar year. Any predictable change or pattern in a time series that recurs or repeats over a one-year period can be said to be seasonal.

Note that seasonal effects are different from cyclical effects, as seasonal cycles are contained within one calendar year, while cyclical effects (such as boosted sales due to low unemployment rates) can span time periods shorter or longer than one calendar year.

BREAKING DOWN 'Seasonality'

Seasonality can be seen in many time series, and it's more common than you might think. For example, if you live in a climate with cold winters and warm summers, your home's heating costs probably rise in the winter and fall in the summer. You would reasonably expect the seasonality of your heating costs to recur every year. Similarly, a company that sells sunscreen and tanning products would see sales jump up in the summer, but drop in the winter. Companies that understand the seasonality of their business can time inventories, staffing and other decisions to coincide with the expected seasonality.

It's important to remember the effects of seasonality when analyzing stocks from a fundamental point of view. For example, if you assumed a sunscreen company was going to earn as much in the next three quarters as it did during the recent summer quarter, your earnings estimates would likely be way off the mark!

RELATED TERMS
  1. Business Cycle

    The fluctuations in economic activity that an economy experiences ...
  2. Sell In May And Go Away

    A well-known trading adage that warns investors to sell their ...
  3. Halloween Strategy

    An investment technique in which an investor sells stocks before ...
  4. Peak

    The highest point between the end of an economic expansion and ...
  5. Contraction

    A phase of the business cycle in which the economy as a whole ...
  6. Trough

    The stage of the economy's business cycle that marks the end ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    The Ups And Downs Of Investing In Cyclical Stocks

    This strategy can be profitable but only if you know when to dump these stocks.
  2. Active Trading Fundamentals

    Capitalizing On Seasonal Effects

    We show you how to take advantage of periodic trends in the equity markets.
  3. Options & Futures

    Cyclical Versus Non-Cyclical Stocks

    Investing during an economic downturn simply means changing your focus. Discover the benefits of defensive stocks.
  4. Fundamental Analysis

    Is India the Next Emerging Markets Superstar?

    With a shift towards manufacturing and services, India could be the next emerging market superstar. Here, we provide a detailed breakdown of its GDP.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: Guggenheim Enhanced Short Dur

    Find out about the Guggenheim Enhanced Short Duration ETF, and learn detailed information about this fund that focuses on fixed-income securities.
  6. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares Morningstar Small-Cap Value

    Find out about the Shares Morningstar Small-Cap Value ETF, and learn detailed information about this exchange-traded fund that focuses on small-cap equities.
  7. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social

    Find out about the iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social exchange-traded fund, and learn detailed information about its characteristics, suitability and recommendations.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares Agency Bond

    Find out about the iShares Agency Bond exchange-traded fund, and explore detailed analysis of the ETF that tracks U.S. government agency securities.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: PowerShares DWA SmallCap Momentum

    Find out about the PowerShares DWA SmallCap Momentum Portfolio ETF, and explore detailed analysis the fund's characteristics, suitability and recommendations.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: ProShares Large Cap Core Plus

    Learn information about the ProShares Large Cap Core Plus ETF, and explore detailed analysis of its characteristics, suitability and recommendations.
RELATED FAQS
  1. To what extent do seasonal factors influence the utilities sector?

    Seasonal factors have a large impact on the utilities sector, with a significant increase in demand during the summer and ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How much does seasonality affect the net sales figures of companies, such as retailers?

    Seasonality affects both sales and net sales figures of companies in different ways. For some companies, seasonality has ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the most popular companies in the retail sector?

    Examples of popular companies in the retail sector include Costco, Nordstrom Rack, J. Crew, Sephora, Ikea, The Container ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Is the banking sector subject to any seasonal trends?

    The banking industry, including retail and investment banks, is subject to seasonal trends. Seasonality is most commonly ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are there significant seasonal patterns in the electronics sector?

    There is strong seasonality in the electronics sector, with sales of nearly all kinds of electronics – computers, digital ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Why is the TTM (trailing twelve months) important in finance?

    Using trailing 12-month (TTM) figures is an effective way to analyze the most recent financial data in an annualized format. ... Read Full Answer >>
  7. Why would you look at year-over-year rather than quarterly growth?

    Growth rates are an important metric for evaluating financial and economic data. Annual growth rates are more commonly cited ... Read Full Answer >>
  8. How does seasonality affect the financial services sector?

    The seasonal trends in financial services vary depending on which subset of financial services is being considered. For example, ... Read Full Answer >>
  9. How does seasonality affect the forest products sector?

    The concept of seasonality comes from the analysis of time series data. A certain data set demonstrates characteristics that ... Read Full Answer >>
  10. Does the consumer price index (CPI) correlate with the change in price of goods and ...

    It is unlikely that the consumer price index (CPI) measures any one individual's exact experience with price changes. Though ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Bear Market

    A market condition in which the prices of securities are falling, and widespread pessimism causes the negative sentiment ...
  2. Alligator Spread

    An unprofitable spread that occurs as a result of large commissions charged on the transaction, regardless of favorable market ...
  3. Tiger Cub Economies

    The four Southeast Asian economies of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Tiger cub economy indicates that ...
  4. Gorilla

    A company that dominates an industry without having a complete monopoly. A gorilla firm has large control of the pricing ...
  5. Elephants

    Slang for large institutions that have the funds to make high volumes trades. Due to the large volumes of stock that elephants ...
  6. Widow's Exemption

    In general terms, a widow's exemption refers to the amount that can be deducted from taxable income by a widow, thereby reducing ...
Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!