Helpful Hints for Compustat Programming

Fiscal Year End and Dates on the Annual Files

  In order to find data which corresponds to a given year, you need to know the naming convention that Compustat follows.  In a nutshell, Compustat assigns the to the data year the year in which the fiscal year begins if the fiscal year end is from January through May.  If the fiscal year end is from June through December, then the data year is the year in which the fiscal year ends.  One way to remember it (except for in June) is that the data year is the year in which the majority of the months in the fiscal year fall.

The data year is contained in YEARA(i), and the month in which the fiscal year ends is contained in FYR(i).  So for example the record with a given YEARA and FYR contains data which span the following time periods:

1995   01   2/1/95 - 1/31/96  (11 months in 1995)
1995   02   3/1/95 - 2/30/96  (10 months in 1995)
1995   03   4/1/95 - 3/31/96  (9 months in 1995)
1995   04   5/1/95 - 4/30/96  (8 months in 1995)
1995   05   6/1/95 - 5/31/96  (7 months in 1995)
1995   06   7/1/94 - 6/30/95  (6 months in 1995)
1995   07   8/1/94 - 7/31/95  (7 months in 1995)
1995   08   9/1/94 - 8/31/95  (8 months in 1995)
1995   09  10/1/94 - 9/30/95  (9 months in 1995)
1995   10  11/1/94 -10/31/95  (10 months in 1995)
1995   11  12/1/94 -11/30/95  (11 months in 1995)
1995   12   1/1/95 -12/31/95  (12 months in 1995)

Fiscal Year End, Calendar Quarters and Fiscal Quarters on the Quarterly Files:   perdes(1,i), perdes(2,i), perdes(3,i). 

On the quarterly file the information on the fiscal year, the fiscal quarter, and the month of the fiscal year end is contained in the first 3 items in the period descriptor array--called perdes(item,record)--in the access programs. 

perdes(1,i) is the fiscal year of the data for record i, just like YEARA is above.   Not all companies themselves use this convention in labeling their own fiscal years.  So if you are checking Compustat data against annual report data off of microfiche, Edgar, or hard copy annual reports, be sure to note the date of the annual report--and don't rely on the name that the company gives to the fiscal year to identify what dates the data encompass. 

perdes(2,i) is the fiscal quarter for record i.  This is not the calendar quarter.   You can see what months this corresponds to by looking at perdes(3,i).

perdes(3,i) is the numerical month of the fiscal year end month--like FYR above.  For example a company with fiscal year end December will have perdes(3,i) = 12.  A company with fiscal year end September will have perdes(3,i) = 9.  Suppose perdes(1,i) = 95, perdes(2,i) = 2, and perdes(3,i) = 9.  Then record i corresponds to the second fiscal quarter in fiscal year 1995 for a firm with fiscal year end in September.  From above, if the data year is 1995, then the data encompass dates from 10/1/94 through 9/30/95 and so the second quarter would be January, February and March in 1995.