What it is:
An earnings call is a public announcement, usually via conference, of a company's profits, usually on a quarterly basis.
How it works (Example):
Company XYZ is a public company. As such, it must file a 10Q every quarter with the Securities and Exchange . At that time or just before, Company XYZ also issue a press release announcing significant components of its financial performance (especially margins) and any noteworthy items. It also host a publicly available conference to relay this information and answer questions from analysts.
Why it Matters:
Earnings calls are often the first pieces of definitive information that investors and analysts get regarding a company's financial performance for the quarter or year. They are also the first time analysts get to ask about the results and request comment or further insight from management. Analysts and investors pay special attention to earnings calls and even plan trades around them.