whisper number
n. An unofficial forecast of a company's earnings based on rumors and other unsubstantiated sources.

Example Citation:
Intel's earnings were far ahead of the $ 1.07 a share expected by Wall Street analysts surveyed by First Call.

The results even surpassed the "whisper number" of $ 1.10 a share circulated among traders following Intel's news in November that its results would be higher than analysts were projecting.
—"Profits at Intel, Yahoo Beat Wall St. Forecasts," Los Angeles Times, January 13, 1999

Earliest Citation:
"Net income [for the quarter] was $ 168.7 million, or 59 cents per share," Carter read from a press release, "vs. $ 98.8 million, or 37 cents per share, during the first quarter last year." The per share figure was up a remarkable 59%; more important, though, it handily beat Wall Street's published estimates, which had been around 55 cents a share. It even beat the "whisper number" that had been quietly passed around by some of the analysts in the previous few days, as they realized their published estimates had been too low. The "whisper number" had been 57 cents.
—Joseph Nocera, "Cooking with Cisco," Fortune, December 25, 1995

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