I/B/E/S - The Institutional Brokers' Estimate System Explained

What Is the Institutional Brokers' Estimate System (IBES)?

The Institutional Brokers' Estimate System (IBES) is a database used by brokers and active investors to access the estimates made by stock analysts regarding the future earnings of publicly traded American companies.

IBES is often written as "I/B/E/S."

Key Takeaways

  • The Institutional Brokers' Estimate System, or IBES, is a database of analyst estimates and company guidance for more than 23,000 public companies.
  • The database aggregates all of the available financial data on companies and company sectors to aid in decision-making.
  • It features a host of data from equity analyst consensus to forward guidance.
  • Historical data is available from 1976 when IBES was introduced, with international data going back to 1987.
  • IBES is owned today by Thomson Reuters.

Understanding the IBES

IBES serves as a central location for all current analyst estimates for stocks. It also incorporates company guidance, the estimates of projected future earnings that companies publish on a quarterly and annual basis, and update periodically as needed.

The first iteration of the IBES database was created by a brokerage firm in 1976 and traded hands several times, landing at financial analytics firm Primark, before being purchased by Thomson Reuters in 2000.

The database provides summary information and detailed projections gathered from analysts and brokers from the major international brokerages as well as local independent analysts. It draws on analyst estimates of more than 216 performance measures for companies across all industries. These include estimates of revenue, earnings per share, price targets, net debt, enterprise value, and net income, among other factors.

Users can break down data by year, by fiscal quarter, and by other timeframes that are used to measure and anticipate a company’s performance.

The database includes recommendations from the analysts on whether to buy, hold, or sell shares in the public companies they cover.

IBES is designed to be a centralized system to assist decision-making about securities.

How IBES Is Used

IBES aims to be a concise centralized system to aid in decision-making about securities. It allows for access to a broader consensus estimate rather than relying on the narrow judgments that can be made from day to day as analysts publish their reports.

IBES can be used in a variety of ways. Forecast models for earnings per share results, for instance, can be created using IBES as a benchmark. The database also is used in accounting research.

IBES Sample Screen
Source: Thomson Reuters - Refinitiv.

IBES Spinoffs

Thomson Reuters has other distinct databases based on IBES. For example, IBES guidance data and earnings estimates are available to academics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to review and evaluate expectations for companies. An IBES historical database is used to compare and test investment theories.

The IBES is one of a number of databases used by money managers and investors. The Center for Research on Security Prices has developed databases for stock prices including daily and monthly market information, research, and historical data.

What Does IBES Stand for?

In the financial markets, IBES (or I/B/E/S) stands for the Institutional; Brokers' Estimate System, a financial database containing equity analysts' estimates and reports on most publicly-traded companies.

Who Owns IBES?

IBES is owned by the financial data and media company Thomson Reuters, which it acquired in 2000 when Thomson Reuters purchased the Primark Company.

What Kind of Data Is Found in an IBES Report?

In addition to analysts' recommendations, IBES reports contain a wealth of company financial data including earnings (EPS) forecasts, company guidance, and KPIs (key performance indicators).

How Can I Access IBES Data?

IBES is available through various subscription services offered by Thomson Reuters, including its Refinitiv, Thomson ONE, and Eikon platforms.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Refinitiv. "Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S Key Performance Indicators," Page 2.

  2. Wharton University of Pennsylvania. "I/B/E/S Overview."

  3. Refinitiv. "I/B/E/S Estimates."

  4. Center for Research in Security Prices, LLC. "The Center for Research in Security Prices."

Take the Next Step to Invest
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.