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Headline Earnings


Headline Earnings is a financial term used to assess a company’s profitability, primarily in South Africa. It is calculated by adjusting a firm’s net earnings by removing certain non-operational and non-recurring items, such as gains or losses from the sale of assets, goodwill impairment, and other extraordinary events. The purpose of Headline Earnings is to provide a more accurate representation of a company’s underlying financial performance and to enable more consistent comparisons over time.


The phonetics of the keyword “Headline Earnings” is:Headline: /ˈhɛdlaɪn/Earnings: /ˈɝːnɪŋz/

Key Takeaways

  • Headline Earnings is a measurement of a company’s earnings, typically used in South Africa, which excludes certain non-operational items, providing a clearer picture of a company’s financial performance.
  • This method of calculation allows investors and analysts to focus on a company’s core business operations, by removing the effects of exceptional or once-off transactions.
  • Headline Earnings are often used to determine a company’s dividend policy, as it reflects the company’s ability to generate sustainable income from its core operations.


Headline Earnings are important in the business and finance world as they provide a clearer and more accurate measurement of a company’s profitability by excluding non-recurring, exceptional items from its earnings report. By focusing on these earnings, which represent the core operational income, stakeholders can better gauge a company’s financial performance, sustainability, and potential growth. Investors and analysts pay particular attention to headline earnings in order to make better-informed investment decisions, as they often serve as the basis for valuations and financial ratios that aid in identifying fair market value, growth trends, or potential risks in the company.


Headline Earnings are an essential financial metric that helps investors and financial analysts evaluate the true profitability and operating performance of a business. The underlying purpose of using headline earnings is to present a transparent and comparable measure of a company’s earnings by excluding non-recurring and exceptional items that could potentially distort the true financial performance of the organization. Items such as gains or losses due to asset sales, acquisitions, restructuring costs, and significant write-downs are excluded from headline earnings calculations as these events are not representative of the company’s core business operations and can often present a temporary or one-time fluctuation.

In addition to assisting in ascertaining the company’s underlying earnings power, headline earnings play a significant role in various other financial assessments and decision-making processes. Investors and analysts rely on headline earnings when comparing the performance of different companies within the same industry, as it assists in determining the overall earnings quality and allows for a more accurate relative comparison. Furthermore, headline earnings are often used as the basis for determining executive remuneration structures, dividend payouts, and assessing trends in historical earnings growth. By focusing on headline earnings, stakeholders can better understand the company’s financial health and make informed decisions related to investment, resource allocation, and strategic planning.


Headline Earnings refer to a company’s profits after excluding non-recurring and non-operational financial events, which helps investors to evaluate a company’s true operating performance better. Here are three real-world examples of headline earnings:

1. Apple Inc.’s Q3 2021 Earnings Report: In their Q3 2021 earnings report, Apple reported a headline earnings per share (EPS) of $1.30, which indicates the company’s profitability from its core business operations. This excludes any one-time gains or losses, such as from the sale of assets, tax adjustments, or legal settlements.

2. BP’s Q2 2021 Earnings Report: BP, the multinational oil and gas company, released its Q2 2021 results, where it reported a headline earning of $2.8 billion, which reflects the company’s underlying business performance by excluding non-operating items such as impairments, write-offs, and gains resulting from the sale of assets.

3. Walmart’s Q2 2021 Earnings Report: In their Q2 2021 earnings report, Walmart reported a headline earnings per share (EPS) of $1.78, an increase of 15.6% compared to the previous year’s same period earnings. The headline earnings excluded any non-operating or non-recurring items, giving investors a clear picture of the retail giant’s true profitability from its core business operations.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What are headline earnings?

Headline earnings are a measure of a company’s earnings that excludes certain income and expense items considered to be non-recurring or unrelated to the company’s core operational performance. It is used primarily in South Africa and is considered an alternative to traditional earnings per share (EPS) calculations.

Why are headline earnings important?

Headline earnings provide investors and analysts with a clearer picture of a company’s ongoing profitability by removing non-recurring and exceptional items, allowing them to focus on the company’s core operations. They are often used as a basis for valuing companies and determining stock prices.

How are headline earnings calculated?

Headline earnings are typically calculated by taking the company’s reported earnings and excluding extraordinary items, gains or losses from the sale of assets, impairment charges, and other non-operational or non-recurring items. The resulting figure is then divided by the number of outstanding shares to determine the headline earnings per share (HEPS).

Can headline earnings be used to compare companies across industries?

While headline earnings can provide valuable insight into a company’s ongoing profitability, it may not always be suitable for comparing companies across different industries due to variations in accounting practices and the nature of non-recurring items. Investors should use caution and consider other financial metrics as well when comparing companies.

What is the difference between headline earnings and earnings per share (EPS)?

Earnings per share (EPS) is a traditional measure of a company’s profitability calculated by dividing reported net income by the number of outstanding shares. Headline earnings, on the other hand, adjust reported earnings by excluding non-recurring items to focus on the company’s core operations. As a result, headline earnings per share (HEPS) may provide a more accurate representation of a company’s ongoing profitability than standard EPS figures.

Are there any limitations to using headline earnings?

Headline earnings do have some limitations. Firstly, the exclusions of certain items can be subjective, leading to potential inconsistencies across companies and industries. Additionally, just because an item is non-recurring or extraordinary, it doesn’t mean it has no impact on a company’s financial position. Investors should consider headline earnings as part of a broader financial analysis rather than relying solely on them for decision-making.

Related Finance Terms

  • 1. Earnings per Share (EPS)
  • 2. Net Profit Margin
  • 3. Non-recurring Items
  • 4. Income Statement
  • 5. Financial Analysis

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