Whether you’re a new or tenured Investor Relations Officer (IRO), you likely know the challenges of ensuring that your sell-side consensus estimate data is correctly reflected, while also managing the many other aspects of your investor relations program. Thus, confirming that popular financial media outlets are posting accurate sell-side estimates tends to fall through the cracks, as it is presumed these news sources are immune to errors. However, despite this common assumption, there are frequent inconsistencies in the sell-side consensus data being reported by the majority of financial media sources, which can exacerbate the perceived deviation between a company’s actual earnings results and the Street’s expectations.  

As an example, we had a client that was on track to deliver on its $0.07 earnings guidance (which was aligned to the Refinitiv estimate).  It was a challenging economy, and the earnings call went very well.  However, multiple reporters and half of their sell-side reports referenced another provider’s estimates of $0.08 and called the quarterly results a miss.  The other provider was missing a mid-quarter update by an analyst that lowered her estimates, and thus the actual consensus.  The reality is you never know which of the providers will be quoted by your analyst, the bots at outlets like Seeking Alpha, or the press.   

There are four main data aggregators: Bloomberg, FactSet, Refinitiv and S&P Capital IQ (“Big 4”). Most sources outside of these four, usually retail focused and less credible organizations, regularly miss numerous analyst estimates. Credible journalists and analysts understand this and will almost always reference the Big 4. They should always be the center of your IR team’s efforts, too.  

While few IROs can pay for all four of those toolsets, the Big 4 data sources are often pulled into top finance sites, like the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, Barrons, E*TRADE, etc.  If you can figure out which of these tools source which data sets, you can at least grab the consensus figures of most of the providers.  

As a product of this financial data being auto populated from these aggregators, there are limited controls to ensure consensus estimates are accurate., This leads to discrepancies and, more consequentially, investors formulating opinions based on inaccurate data. As an IRO, you want to confidently tell your management team and board that you beat, met, or missed analyst estimates before they are referenced in post-earnings documents, so it’s imperative to  fact check all four data aggregators. 

If an estimate or actual number is incorrect, you can contact the news provider directly to have the data amended. Better yet, you can reach out directly to the data provider and often get the situation fixed directly.  The nuances and discrepancies between the four data providers are a derivative of which analysts are included in the consensus. Meaning, if a certain analyst’s estimates are included in Bloomberg’s consensus figures, but not Refinitiv’s, there will be a material difference in what gets quoted or sourced.  

To conclude, understanding where estimates are sourced by public financial news providers can be vital to IROs to ensure all aggregators have accurate information. A growing number of investors, especially those for under-followed and retail-heavy stories, rely on these outlets for information, and it is extremely important to check specific news sites that source from the data aggregators you don’t have access to ensure all the data being provided is accurate. 

Below are examples of how the four different  data aggregators are used by financial media outlets and institutional investors. 


  • CNBC and Yahoo Finance’s financial data and estimates are sourced by Refinitiv. 


  • Wall Street Journal & Barron’s financial data and estimates are sourced by FactSet. 
  • Wall Street Journal corrections email: wsjcontact@wsj.com 

S&P Capital IQ: 

  • Seeking Alpha’s financial data and estimates are sourced by S&P Capital IQ. 
  • Seeking Alpha corrections email: disputes@seekingalpha.com 


  • Bloomberg data  is highly protected and not sold to third parties. The main way to get Bloomberg data is through a Bloomberg Terminal subscription. 
  • Many FP&A teams and any reputable IR firm (like Alpha!) pay for this access.  Worst case, some of your top buy-side followers can likely source a quick number if needed. 
  • If you are on the Bloomberg website and you see an error in the data being reported, you can reach out to the Bloomberg help center to get assistance making the correction. 

While it may take time to confirm the accuracy of certain data sources, it pays off greatly in the long run. Again, this process is not an easy one, but at least once a year we’re fairly sure you’ll be happy to have fact checked all four providers as we’re seeing more and more errors in the data – all of which can be fixed by triangulating the data against the complete information you should have directly from your covering analysts.