What is a Reporting Period?

Definition: A reporting period is a selected time frame that will be covered by a given financial report. It is a period of time where financial information is gathered and sorted to be presented.

What Does Reporting Period Mean?

Reporting periods can be very different depending on the interested audience’s requirements. They refer to a given range of time that, after reaching its end, will produce a set of financial information about an organization such as a business, a non-profit or even a government agency. Reports are normally issued monthly or quarterly, depending on their nature and purpose. For internal uses, reports are often produced monthly, to inform shareholders or top executives about the company’s operations and financial status.

For external uses, these reporting periods are frequently extended to quarters or semesters and these are normally targeted to potential investors, government authorities or minor shareholders. In order to deliver the required information on schedule, most companies have automated administrative systems that can produce these reports within minutes. The most common financial reports issued are the balance sheet, the profit and loss statement and the cash flow statement. For annual reports, the volume of information reported is higher, since it covers many topics like marketing and sales information and financial forecasts.

Example

A company called Tropical Juices Co. produces bottled fruit juices that are sold in many retail establishments all around the country. It is a public company that trades in the New York Stock Exchange and since its foundation ten years ago it has grown exponentially, to reach $150,000,000 in annual sales.

Currently, the Board of Directors has different policies about financial reporting. The company’s senior management team must issue a comprehensive financial report each month that will be delivered to the Board of Directors exclusively, for decision-making purposes.

On the other hand, a quarterly report should be issued to the Board also, with more in-depth information about the business and its operations. Finally, legally required reports must be issued quarterly and annually and they must be disclosed to the public to comply with the listing rules of the stock exchange.