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Foolish Fundamentals: Earnings Season

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"It never rains but it pours."

Four times a year, every year without fail, we're inundated by a stream of news from the companies we follow: IBM earned this, Gap (NYSE: GPS  ) sold that, and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) , true to form, "beat by a penny." It's called "earnings season," folks. And it's the time when companies traditionally report their quarterly and/or annual earnings results en masse.

Rarely does an investor know precisely when it will start, and truth be told, it never really ends. But if you're ever in doubt, there's an easy way to find out if you're in the midst of it: Click on over to Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) Finance's "US Earnings Calendar," and if the list of companies reporting looks like this, then congratulations, Fool, you're soaking in it.

You can expect then that CNBC, Yahoo!, Marketwatch -- basically everyone whose customer base is investing-centric (yep, us Fools, too) -- will be doing all earnings news, all the time, for the next four to six weeks. When you finally come to a day when the reporting schedule looks more like this, it's time to take a breather -- but not for long. Within a month or so, the cycle will start right back up again.

But is there an alternative to getting smacked upside the head by the blizzard of earnings news, then fumbling blindly within it in search of the news you really want (you know, how your company did in the quarter)? Actually, there are a couple of good sites that can help you figure out when to start looking for the news you can use. At the Yahoo! site linked above, for example, you'll find a search box in the top left corner. Enter the ticker for the company you're interested in, and you'll be taken to the page for either the next expected reporting date, or the most recent one -- whichever is closer, calendar-wise.

Or if you want to get a feel for when your company usually reports, you can visit Again, there's a search box. But this time, putting in a ticker won't just tell you when next to expect an update; it will give you a table showing the date of every single earnings report the company has released for the last eight years, as well as when it's next expected to check in. Good stuff.

Meanwhile, investors who subscribe to the Fool's Hidden Gems newsletter get a special treat: an earnings calendar that lists every active Hidden Gems recommendation -- from Actuant (NYSE: ATU  ) to Zumiez (Nasdaq: ZUMZ  ) -- along with when, and what, it's expected to report next. To minimize the clutter, we don't include information about stocks such as RedEnvelope (Nasdaq: REDE  ) or FARO Technologies (Nasdaq: FARO  ) that we've "sold" from the portfolio. But everything else -- it's in there.

It's just one small part of our continuing effort to make investing as easy as possible for our members. If you're not one yet, take a free trial of the service and see what else we've got on offer. Don't let the next earnings season catch you by surprise -- click here to start today.

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