The Institutional Brokers' Estimate System is a service founded by the New York brokerage firm Lynch, Jones & Ryan and Technimetrics, Inc. I/B/E/S began collecting earnings estimates for U.S. companies around 1976 and used the raw data to calculate statistical time series for each company. The data subsequently was used as the basis for articles in academic finance journals attempting to demonstrate that changes in consensus earnings estimates could identify opportunities to capture excess returns in subsequent periods. After starting with annual earnings estimates and estimates of "Long Term Growth, the database later was expanded to include quarterly earnings estimates. This allowed for the analysis of "Quarterly Earnings Surprises." Other innovations made possible by the I/B/E/S data included estimates for various equity indexes on a "top down" basis and estimates made on a "bottom up" basis for those same indexes. In the mid-1980s I/B/E/S began to expand its dataset to include companies trading in international markets. Lynch, Jones was sold to Citigroup in 1986. Barra bought I/B/E/S in 1993, selling it to Primark two years later. Thomson Financial purchased Primark in 2000; the database is currently owned by Thomson Reuters.

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