A company's earnings report is a public display of profitability, financial standing, and the official word on recent overall business performance. All publicly-traded companies in the U.S. are legally required to file quarterly reports, annual reports, and 10-Q and 10-K reports.

Current and potential shareholders can track upcoming earnings releases through online resources such as the NASDAQ online earnings calendar. Earnings reports that have already been released can be found through SEC.gov and other publications, such as Morningstar, as well as on a company's website.

These earnings reports serve as public balance sheets that all come out at around the same time. This rapid release keeps stocks going up and down with each new announcement, but it doesn't necessarily disclose anything about a stock's long-term viability for you. So be careful how you use earnings release information.

How to Track Earnings Reports Through NASDAQ

The NASDAQ earnings calendar presents a collection of coming earnings reports. You can search for a company based on a specific release date or by ticker symbol to receive a brief overview of key information.

For example, you can see reports released on the current day, complete with fundamental data such as market capitalization, consensus earnings per share (EPS) forecasts as well as last year's EPS. {ALSO: 5 different types of EPS}

How to Track Earnings Reports Using EDGAR

The most authoritative and complete resource for all earnings reports is on SEC.gov. Using their EDGAR system, you can search for any publicly-traded company and read quarterly, annual, and 10-Q and 10-K reports.

Many people confuse the quarterly earnings report with the 10-Q because they are both based on quarterly data. However, the 10-Q is a much longer document, filled with black-and-white financial information. While this can make it tedious to read, it allows investors to avoid the fluff often found in the official earnings report. The 10-K and annual earnings reports have a similar relationship.

Listen to Earnings Conference Calls

Earnings calls are generally available to the entire public. If you keep track of when these are scheduled to take place, you can often listen to the call live via telephone. These earnings calls can provide an even better insight into the financial health of a company than quarterly earnings reports.

They also can be accessed online and are often found in the investor relations section of a company's website. Many companies provide access to the earnings calls on their corporate websites for some time after the actual call, making it possible for investors to access and analyze valuable information.