Earnings guidance, also called forward-looking statements, is usually given in conference calls and then reported in the financial press. Guidance offers companies the opportunity to provide their estimates of the company's sales or earnings expectations and comment on these numbers in the context of current industry conditions.
Before the passage of Regulation FD in 2000, earnings guidance was often referred to as "whisper numbers" because they were given to selected analysts. Now companies must give all investors access to guidance numbers at the same time.
Not all companies offer earning guidance and some only offer annual, not quarterly estimates. Both the advantages and the risks and costs of offering guidance are topics argued in the business press. To understand the pros and cons of this issue, read these articles.
Lev, Baruch. "The Case for Guidance." The Wall Street Journal. February 27, 2012.
McKinsey and Company. "The Misguided Practice of Earnings Guidance." March 2006.