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Finance Glossary

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Whisper Number

Definition:

A stock appears to trade at 100x earnings with the Wall Street consensus estimate for next year's earnings being $1 a share. The company has no debt and just a little cash. But nothing trades at 100x earnings. The $1 a share for next year is not what investors believe who are paying $100 a share - rather, they believe that the real earnings by the time the company is done printing its quarterlies will be more like $3 and the next year, more like $7. So on two year forward earnings, investors are paying just 14ish times earnings. That number isn't published anywhere except maybe on analyst's private company write-ups - those are analysts inside of mutual and hedge funds who don't, well, publish. Those numbers are the earnings numbers that investors are "whispering" about.

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