How would one calculate the correct value of the outstanding diluted shares for the fourth (last) financial quarter of a company?

When using the SEC 10-Q and 10-K forms: The 10-Q forms contain the number of outstanding shares that are specific to the quarter (Q1 to Q3). The 10-K form contains the number of outstanding shares that are specific to the whole financial year.

How would I now calculate the number of outstanding shares that are specific to the fourth quarter?

Example for AAPL (values from 10-K and 10-Q SEC):

  • Q1 (10-Q), ending on 2019-12-28 reported 17.818.417.000 outstanding diluted shares
  • Q2 (10-Q), ending on 2020-03-28 reported 17.618.765.000 outstanding diluted shares
  • Q3 (10-Q), ending on 2020-06-27 reported 17.419.154.000 outstanding diluted shares
  • Annual report (10-K), ending on 2020-09-26 reported 17.528.214.000 outstanding diluted shares

What is the amount of outstanding diluted shares when viewing Q4 isolated? I found two different examples: https://stockanalysis.com/stocks/aapl/financials/ Here they display 17.256.516.000 as value for Q4 - although I don't get how they calculated it. Another example is this: https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/AAPL/apple/shares-outstanding Here they display the same value as the annual 10-K report, so 17.528.214.000 for Q4.

What is the 'correct' way to do this? Is there even a correct way to do it?

I was wondering about it because depending on the calculation of the outstanding shares the value of EPS (and others) may differ.


I believe the annual value is the average for that year.

$\frac{17.818.417.000 + 17.618.765.000 + 17.419.154.000 + 17.256.516.000}{4} = 17.528.213.000$

It's off by 1000 but that might be a rounding error somewhere.

  • $\begingroup$ I thought so too, so I checked some other companies, they are all off by 1000 or 2000 so I wasn't sure if that really is the correct calculation. Is this documented somewhere? $\endgroup$
    – meberhard
    Oct 8 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know about any specific documentation on it. Maybe you could try to calculate the weighted average first to see if it is because of some quarters being longer than others. $\endgroup$ Oct 8 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ I also had that in mind, but all quarters are exactly 91 days in the example above, so this should not make any difference. $\endgroup$
    – meberhard
    Oct 8 at 15:11

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