How To Speed Read An Earnings Report In 60 Seconds Or Less

I own around 40 stocks in various sectors of the market and during the earnings season, I have to read each one of the 40 earnings reports to make sure companies I invest in are doing well, and there is no imminent danger to my investment objectives.

Reading quarterly earnings report on companies one invests in, is a due diligence that I think all serious investors should do. However, reading earnings report can be a daunting task, especially if you have a well diversified portfolio of several stocks. In my case, you may think it would take me days if not weeks to go through all the 40 reports.

But, what if I tell you, it only takes me less than 60 seconds each, to go through the majority of my stock's earnings reports? How I do this?

Well, let me fill you in on a couple of tricks I use to speed read the earnings reports.

But before I can get into the details of speed reading earnings reports, let me quickly go over where I prefer to get my earnings report and the format I use to help me read them super fast.

I prefer earnings transcripts over listening to earnings webcast.

I normally don't listen to audio webcasts of the earnings reports as they are usually an hour or longer, besides I'm only interested in some very specific items in the earnings reports. Therefore, I prefer reading my earnings reports in a simple text transcript format, and it is usually available the same day, after the actual earnings have been released by the company.

Where Do I Get My Earnings Reports?

You can get earnings report from many different sources including the company's own website or your brokerage. However, I like getting my earnings reports from the free SeekingAlpha's website by putting the company's stock ticker in the website's quote search box and then selecting the Company/Stock's 'Earnings' tab.

The website would list the most current and past earnings reports. Then I would click on the 'Transcripts' tab to narrow down the list to transcripts only. After that, I would select the most recent Earnings Call Transcript. See the picture below for an example:


At this point, I should have the transcript in front of me. For some very long transcripts, I may have to select the 'Single Page View' option to get the entire transcript in one singe page, as it would help me scan the entire transcript without having to go to different pages.

Okay, now I'm ready to look for key indicators or search words.

Things I Look For In An Earnings Report

When reading an earnings report, I first and foremost focus on my investment objectives.

My primary investment objective is to earn dependable, predictable, and growing income in the form of dividends. Therefore, I pay more attention to dividend related metrics when reading through an earnings report of my existing stock holding (note: I do not use this process for picking a new company, though I may use some elements of it).

But what about the earnings?

What about' em? I don't need to read an earnings report to know the company's earnings. It is all over the news, especially if the company beat or came short on its earnings estimate or previous guidance. When a publicly traded company announces its quarterly results, earnings and revenues are the first two things that hit the news.

But you may ask, well dividend cuts also make the news. That's right, but when the dividend cuts hit the news, it's already too late to do anything about it.

The whole point of reading an earnings report, at least for me is to gauge the health of the dividend and its growth preemptively. What a one quarter's earnings beat or shortfall would do to the stock price is not that important to me, unless I'm looking to buy shares in a company.

Therefore, I don't need the earnings report to know whether a company beat its earnings or not. I stay focused on dividends.

One thing I want to say about earnings: if a company beats and raises its earnings outlook, then it's a sure buy for me when it comes to adding to an existing position. This is because a dividend increase is pretty much a guarantee for such a company and adding more shares of such a company is a no brainer: Let the winners get stronger and bigger in the portfolio.

I don't read every single word in the report, but instead I search (CTRL+F) for specific words that are indicators for dividend safety and growth. Here is what I do:

The First 60 Seconds Read

- I search for the word 'dividend' 

I want the management to brag about dividends and how much they have grown or increased it over the years. The more they talk about dividend and its growth the better. I want it to be one of their highlights in the report.

Example of Abbvie's Q3 2017 report:
  • Since inception, we have grown our quarterly dividend more than 77%
  • These cash flows will fund our pipeline and fuel our ability to continue to provide an attractive return of capital to our shareholders through a strong and growing dividend and share repurchase.
  • We've certainly demonstrated that, both in the dividend – I mentioned in my comments, we've grown the dividend over 77% since we became a public company
Note how management twice bragged about growing dividend over 77%. That's a good sign for dividend safety, its continued growth, and management's commitment.

Abbvie increased the dividend by 11% in 2017.

Example of Teva's Q1' 2017 report:
  • And last, dividend, our board approved a dividend of $0.34 per share for the first quarter of 2017. As a reminder, Teva’s board approves dividend payments every quarter after considering the financial condition of the company.
  • And obviously, this quarter we have said that we will pay the dividend. I can’t speculate under any circumstances what would happen. I think it should suffice at this point that our policies are the same and that we have met and we have paid a dividend, and in the future every quarter we will do the same.
Note how Teva's management is emphasizing on board's approval and the dividend is paid only after financial consideration of the company, and even though their policy to pay a dividend hasn't changed, they can not speculate to what would happen in the future.

To me, this is a clear indication that dividend could be in trouble and management is setting a tone for a possible reduction in dividend. We all know that board approves a dividend each quarter, but because the Teva management is emphasizing on it a bit too much, it's a sign to me that dividend is in danger. They want the board to be the bad guy when dividend gets cut and not them.

Surely, Teva did cut their dividend by 75% in the Q2 quarter of 2017.

It's Like Taking The Temperature Of A Dividend

At this point, if I'm getting warm and happy feelings from the words used by the management to describe the dividend, then I would stop reading the earnings report and move on to the next report. Up till this point, it should not have taken me more than 60 seconds.

Now, if I'm getting a cold and fuzzy vibe from the wording that management used to describe the dividend, then I would need to extend my reading beyond the 60 seconds to get to some additional details which would help me decide whether to wait for another quarter or sell now to protect against an impending dividend cut or freeze.

I will cover the 'Speed Reading Beyond The First 60 Seconds' in the next post.


It may seem like a lot of work to go through earnings reports, but actually it's not that much work when you have a process down, like I do. Also, if I've done a good job selecting companies in the first place, then I would breeze through most of the earnings report within 60 seconds, without the need for deeper dive or further investigation.

Hope you found this article to be useful and as always, I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Disclaimer: Author of this article is not a licensed/registered financial or investment adviser and does not provide investment advice. Any mention of stock names/tickers in this article or website is not a recommendation to buy or sell. Please do your own due diligence before buying any stocks. This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Full disclaimer can be read here: Full Disclaimer


  1. Nice post buddy. I agree with you that any serious investor should read most reports. Using the search function wasn't dumb either. Clever way to find the things that you care most about. For me, I also check debt, sales and earnings. I want to know if they have increased their debt alot, also I want to know if they are selling more or less, if so, why.

    Good post!

    1. Hi Stockes,

      Yes, debt, sales, and earnings are important; however, I pay more attention to them when I'm starting a new position. Given that, if I've done a good job picking a new stock, then moving on I mainly focus on dividend safety and as long as dividend continues to go up, it is an indication that all the other stuff (debt, sales, and earnings) are doing well enough to support an increasing dividend.

      When things start to get shaky with earnings, sales or debt, it would start to show in how the management talks about the dividends in their earnings report.

      Therefore, I think of dividends as one of the key and leading indicators for predicting how a company is doing financially.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your valuable comment Stockles!

  2. This is very insightful Mr. ATM. I'm an ex finance/accounting professional, CPA and accounting teacher now as I think you know. Not bragging here, far from it. With all that baggage I carry, I can get bogged down in a set of financial statements like a man (or woman) in quick sand. Sure, I know my way around a set of financials, but it is excellent that you highlight key things a dividend growth stock investor should be looking for. Whatever one's strategy, I think it's good to reduce it down to what to look for in quarterly/annual reports so one can do it efficiently. Very helpful. Tom

    1. Tom brag away, you have earned it! We can all learn from your experience in the financial world.

      As an engineer, one important lesson I've learned is to keep the design as simple and efficient as possible. I think the same applies in finance or investing world as well.

      The other thing I've learned is how well-versed an upper management can be in choosing their words correctly to not adversely affect their stock prices, while still put out an implied warning, so they can't be held liable for misrepresenting or hiding negative information. It's all part of the game they play with regards to managing liability and maintaining share price. We, the investors, have to cut through some of that wording to get to the bottom of what management is really trying to tell us.

      Thanks as always for stopping by and for your valuable comment Tom!

  3. Mr ATM, what a delightful article as always! I don't think I've ever read somebody that has given tips to shorten the inspection of the financial reports. It's usually the opposite approach of spending hours pouring over the things with a fine tooth comb. I like your concept better! The KISS method.

    1. Hi DS,

      Thanks for the kind words and glad you liked the post.

      That's the idea to focus on investment objectives and look for specific items in the earnings report that could impact those objectives both positively and negatively.

  4. The hard part about earnings reports is reading between the lines. A lot of lines in those reports will be vague, and it doesn't give you the full picture of the company's financial health.


    1. Yes, and that's why I like to focus on dividends that are hard to be vague about, without causing a red flag storm. I look for words in the earnings transcripts that reflect certainty about dividends. Any choice of words by the management that portray vagueness towards dividend policy is a red flag in my view.

      For example, when the Dominion Energy's management announced in their Q3 earnings report: "Our plan is to share these benefits with our shareholders by growing our dividend at a 10% rate through at least 2020."

      That's the strongest form of certainty or assurance one can expect from a company's management about dividend safety as well as growth. There is nothing vague about it.

      On the other hand, when management dances around dividend policy by using vague words like 'high priority' or 'upon board's approval/evaluation' or worse when they describe dividend as the last item in the earnings report with the choice of words like "And last, but not least, dividend ...", they are implying that dividend is not the priority and may be up for chopping.

      I keep an entire list of all the words management use to dance around the dividend policy, when dividend is at risk. I should publish it in a blog. Ha!

      Thanks for your comment.

  5. Very informative. I can see how having a full portfolio with over 40 companies can be taxing to read all of those reports. That is a good quick way to check up on a few factors of dividend safety and company stability. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Any thoughts on the Dominion deal Mr. ATM? It will be interesting to see what they do with the next dividend. They gave us a small unexpected hike last year and I was expecting more to come with the 1rst Q payment. Not sure now. Tom

    1. Hi Tom,

      Looks like a good deal, I think they are getting SCG for a steal at $55 and per Dominion's announcement, the deal would be 'accretive' to Dominion Energy's earnings upon closing in 2018.

      As for the dividend, D recently committed to raising the dividend by 10%. They announced it on Dec 15. It is still subject to board's declaration in Jan and payable in March. Here is the div announcement:

      I just added some more D today. It is now my largest utility position.

  7. Thanks Mr. ATM. I appreciate having someone to bounce it off of. I just added to my holding as well. It's nice to get a 4% yield with a healthy dividend growth rate. It is also my largest utility holding and now 4th largest overall. Thanks again. Tom

    1. Sure no problem. Oh and that’s over 4.5% yield with the raise. :)

      Good luck to us both.

  8. Thanks for the great suggestion Mr. ATM. We have busy lives sometimes, and so finding an easy way to go through earnings reports is helpful. Honestly, I don't pay as much attention as I should to earning reports, so this gives me something to think about.

    1. Your welcome DP, glad you found the article to be useful.

      Take care

  9. Nice write up on quick review of earning reports. I have been spending time with family for past week and half and was away from blogging etc. It was nice read here. I also look out for any projection or revision on guidance if they provided any in my search criteria after I look it up for dividends. Since I am also an engineer, I totally agree to your response to Tom, keeping design as simple as possible is the right key and same can be applicable for investing keeping things simple.

    Happy Investing.

    1. Hi Karma,

      Yes, projections or revisions on guidance are very important components of an earnings report. I have a term for it too: "Beat and Raise"

      When an existing company in my portfolio beats and raises its earnings, I bump-up its 'Next-man-up' priority on the Add-more list.

      Hope you had good holidays with the family and welcome back!

      Happy Investing to you too


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