Skip to main content

What Is a Whisper Number? Definition and Example

A whisper number is an informal, unpublished earnings estimate.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:
Photo of a person whispering to another person with text overlay that reads "What Is a Whisper Number?"

When a company is expected to beat earnings, whisper numbers are the earnings that analysts think a company is likely to make, but are reluctant to publish. 

What Is a Whisper Number?

A whisper number is an informal, unpublished estimate on profit. Whisper numbers tend to circulate in the news about the market and on social media, blogs, and chat channels on trading platforms prior to the earnings announcements of publicly traded companies. They are typically matched with analysts’ consensus earnings estimates for comparison. Sometimes, the whisper number is the actual profit figure or is close to it.

It’s difficult to ascertain the source of a whisper number, but investors use it to gain an edge in trading stocks. A whisper number could originate from a corporate executive seeking to boost the value of shares of a publicly traded company that has not released that information publicly, which would be in violation of Securities and Exchange Commission rules, such as regulation on fair disclosure. If the SEC discovers that an executive is leaking information that hasn’t been disclosed to the public, the regulatory agency could sanction the company and the official.

An analyst who has close ties with executives of a listed company also could be the source of a whisper number. Still, stopping leaks of information can be challenging, and the enforcement of regulations is sometimes lacking.

How Does a Whisper Number Affect the Market?

Investors seek to gain an edge over other investors, and being the first with knowledge of a whisper number on net income, earnings per share, or another measure on profitability means having the first opportunity to trade based on this information. Whisper numbers tend to be mentioned prior to the publication of a company’s earnings results, and its shares tend to rise in advance of the release.

A profit figure that is at or above the whisper number could translate into gains from trading, while a weak or disappointing number that trails results could mean lower share prices.

For example, if a company is expected to post a profit of $2 a share for a quarter based on analysts’ consensus earnings estimate, and the whisper number is $3, shares of that company are likely to rise before the announcement. Sometimes, the company’s share price retreats after the actual figure is made public, following a buildup in the stock’s price in anticipation of the result.

How Do Whisper Numbers Compare to Earnings Estimates?

Earnings estimates are typically profit forecasts provided by companies or analysts based on projections for revenue and costs. A whisper number, though, doesn’t necessarily have to be based on facts and instead could be conjecture, which is part of the reason regulators discourage the release of unsubstantiated information because of the investment risks posed toward investors.

While executives might be releasing their earnings to analysts ahead of the public in confidence, some companies actively discourage analysts from passing around whisper numbers. Still, some analysts would anonymously leak a whisper number that they think a company is likely to report, but are reluctant to publish.

Do Whisper Numbers Solely Refer to Profit?

Nowadays, investors, analysts, and the media tend to broaden the categorization of the whisper number beyond earnings per share, and some apply it to revenue and other measures, and even apply it to other financial markets. For example, a whisper number could refer to electric car deliveries from Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) because it’s an important measure for the company—the more EV units it produces and sells, the more likely its profit will grow in future periods, which could translate into a higher stock price.

How Can I Invest Using Whisper Numbers?

Websites like WhisperNumber.com focus on whisper numbers and provide figures for hundreds of companies. Whisper Number advocates trading strategies based on an individual investor’s needs, and claims that its whisper number for a company has a high correlation with its stock price.