Quarter-to-date (QTD) is a time interval that captures all relevant company activity that occurred between the beginning of the current quarter and the point at which the data was gathered. Quarter-to-date information is typically gathered in situations when the entire quarterly period has not yet ended, and it can allow management to see how the quarter is shaping up.

Breaking Down Quarter-To-Date (QTD)

For example, a company may have software that is tracking its revenue for the quarter-to-date. 

In finance, QTD is often provided in financial statements detailing the performance of a business entity. Providing current QTD results, as well as YTD results for one or more past years, provides owners, managers, investors and other stakeholders with reality-based context from which to compare the company's current performance to that of past years and past quarters.

QTD describes returns in progress during the specified time period, at the time of query. For example: if the QTD return for the stock is 3 percent. This means from the beginning of the quarter to now, a stock has appreciated by 8 percent.

Analyzing Quarter-To-Date Data

Many companies spend a great deal of time just preparing their quarter-to-date reports. All information must be clean and free of errors, and since reports can get quite lengthy, this level of precision often slows down the process. Add other pressures, such as ever-changing compliance requirements, and finance departments may quickly run out of the time they need to conduct comprehensive analyses, to the point where they cannot add any insight or value beyond simply delivering the results. However, to allow this to happen would be a mistake. Companies need to be competitive in today's markets, and that requires companies to go beyond simply reporting important data. They need to pay a great deal of attention to how they analyze that data. Appropriately used, accurate, and timely QTD reporting and analytical tools can help a company spend more time taking action on improving their performance.

If, for example, the information is suggesting that QTD revenue is dramatically lower than the same quarter from last year, this updated data will allow management to start looking for trends to see what is different compared to last year. Further analysis can also determine if any changes will need to be made to improve the situation.

Comparing QTD measures can be misleading if not much of a given quarter has occurred, or if the date of query is not clear. QTD measures are more sensitive to changes early rather than later. Comparing quarter-to-date information among companies with different fiscal-year start dates can distort an analysis since the time included may vary and seasonal factors may become skewed. It is also important to remember that the extra day in leap years may distort quarter-to-date comparisons.