Understanding Stock Market Quarters

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Stock market quarters refer to a company's fiscal year. You may hear about a company's stock performing badly in a quarter or picking up in another quarter. Stock market quarters are different for every company because each company's accounting, or fiscal, year starts at a different date.

Things You'll Need

  • A company's stock market quarterly report.

How to Understand Stock Market Quarters

  • Understand that a stock market quarter is a period of three months. There are four quarters for each fiscal year. Furthermore, the fiscal year starts at a different date for each company, depending on that company's fiscal year. For instance, company X's first quarter may start Sept. 1 and end Dec. 1, while company Y's first quarter may start Jan. 1 and end March 1.

  • Know that quarters are meant to measure a company's revenue (or lack thereof) for a fiscal year. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires all publicly traded companies to report on their performance for their shareholders. For instance, if you invest in company X, you will receive a report for each quarter of the year on company X's stock-market performance.

  • Understand that when you receive a quarterly report, you will generally read that a company either lost or gained value in its stock, expressed in percentages. For instance, you may read that company X's stocks dropped by 15 percent during the first quarter of a year.

  • Know that fiscal years vary widely from country to country. For instance, the U.S. government's fiscal year starts on Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 20. However, in the United Kingdom, the fiscal year starts on April 6 and ends on April 5 of the following year. It is essential for you to know this information if you are an international investor.

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