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Earnings calls are teleconference meetings during which CEOs of public companies discuss their results with investors and analysts. In my research, I investigate the relationships between the language that CEOs use in these calls and important organizational outcomes.

Every quarter, CEOs answer tens of thousands of questions that often relate to current events, ranging from elections to Black Lives Matter. When the pandemic hit, two new topics emerged in my data: COVID-19 and Remote work. I decided to create this page to track and visualize the evolution of these topics over time.

CEOs make decisions that influence millions of us. Studying the words that they use every quarter in their earnings calls can give us the “pulse” of corporate leadership.

Visualizations

For each topic, I provide a chart where CEOs are grouped by country, and a chart where they are grouped by industry. Please go to the methods section to learn more about the process involved in generating these charts.

COVID-19

The two charts below represent the number of times CEOs mentioned terms related to COVID-19 during their earnings calls. See the methods section for more information.

CEO Mentions of COVID-19, by Country

CEO Mentions of COVID-19, by Industry

Remote Work

The two charts below represent the number of times CEOs mentioned terms related to remote work during their earnings calls. See the methods section for more information.

CEO Mentions of Telework, by Country

CEO Mentions of Telework, by Industry

Optimism

The two charts below represent the proportion of positive words CEOs use compared to negative words. See the methods section for more information.

CEO Optimism, by Country

CEO Optimism, by Industry

Methods

Below, you will find a few elements relating to how I collect my data and run my analyses. Please reach out to me if you have suggestions on what information to add to this section.

Data Collection

Earnings calls held by companies listed on US stock markers (e.g. NYSE, NASDAQ, OTC) are commonly transcribed and part of the public record. One of the main limitations of these transcripts is their unstructured nature; they are plain text documents that cannot be analyzed linguistically as such. In my research, I developed an algorithm that structures transcripts into queryable documents. For example, I could analyze how CFOs respond to questions on “Black Lives Matter”. The data presented above is based on all statements made by CEOs on US stock markets.

Number of CEOs by Industry

Industry data is based on the S&P’s Global Industry Classification Standard.

wdt_IDIndustryCEO Count
1Information Technology604
2Financials581
3Real Estate231
4Health Care777
5Industrials652
6Consumer Discretionary542

Number of CEOs by Headquarters Location

Countries with fewer than 100 individual CEOs per quarter were removed from analyses.

wdt_IDCountryCEO Count
1United States3.094
2Canada398
3United Kingdom150
4China120

Linguistic Analyses

COVID-19

Mentions were measured using a short list of words related to COVID-19 (e.g. coronaviruscovid).

Remote Work

Mentions were measured using a short list of words related to COVID-19 (e.g. teleworkremote work work from home).

Optimism

Optimism represents the percentage of positive words (e.g. accomplishstrong) relative to negative words (e.g. abandonburden) in CEO statements. The dictionaries are from Loughran and McDonald’s Sentiment Word Lists, which were developed using public companies’ 10-K filings.