Quarter (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4)

What it is:

A quarter is a three-month period. There are four in one fiscal year.

How it works/Example:

In the finance world, quarter 1 usually spans January 1-March 31; quarter 2 usually spans April 1-June 30; quarter 3 usually spans July 1-September 30; and quarter 4 usually spans October 1-December 31. However, companies may have their own quarterly calendars.

Why it Matters:

Quarters are the time periods around which much of the financial world revolves. Reports issued that cover the performance during a quarter (called quarterly reports) usually involve a set of financial statements. Public companies in the United States file these reports via Securities and Exchange Commission Form 10-Q.

Quarterly reports help investors take the pulse of the companies they invest in. Comparing the quarterly information to the previous year's information for the same quarter can yield rich insight into how seasonal a company's business is, short-term  performance and growth rates in a variety of measures, and information to compare with  similar companies.

Best execution refers to the imperative that a broker, market maker, or other agent acting on behalf of an investor is obligated to execute the investor's order in a way that is most advantageous to the investor rather than the agent.