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Ergebnis

English translation: earnings/results/income depending on context and preference

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14:04 Aug 11, 2004
German to English translations [PRO]
Bus/Financial - Accounting / financial reporting
German term or phrase: Ergebnis
This is another one of those questions for the financial specialists out there. Sometimes "Ergebnis" is translated as earnings, and sometimes as results. Are these two synonyms? Or are earnings used in some contexts and results in others? I've been trying to research this for a couple of weeks and have found myself turning in increasingly smaller circles....

I've looked all over the Web and have drawn a blank, and mMy Handbook of International Financial Terms only has earnings - no mention of results.

Woywode's not much help on the matter, and neither is Hamblock. IASs/IFRSs also doesn't shed much light on the matter, and I haven't gotten round to to plowing through Wiley's GAAP yet (although I'm pretty sure that it doesn't depend on the accounting standard used). The glossaries in my corporate finance books also haven't shed any light on the matter....

So I guess it all boils down to "What's the difference between earnings and results? Is there one?"

This all started when a customer of mine had "Betriebsergebnis (EBIT)" which I translated as "Operating results (EBIT)". Of course then the question was asked about why it was a "result" in one breath and "earnings" (in EBIT) in the next.

Help appreciated guys!

Thanks!

Alison
Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 20:05
English translation:earnings/results/income depending on context and preference
Explanation:
Hi Allison,

The short answer is that the earnings/results are interchangeble.

The long answer is that convention and personal preference (the company's, the accountants, whoever's) all to often makes a difference. For example, one company may use operating results, another results from operations, another operating income, and yet another, earnings from operations.

There is also a British "preference" (tendency?) for results over earnings, but this is NOT a hard and fast AE vs. BE convention as is the case with turnover vs. revenue.

With respect to translations from German, recent trends seem to lean to "Earnings" (or the abbreviated variants EBT, EBIT, EBITDA etc.), although I do have certain clients (either schooled in BE or those who "know English") who insist on "results" even where this can be confusing in Fliesstext (Projecktergebnisse as "project results" instead of project earnings/income).

Sorry I can't give you a hard and fast answer but I don't think there is one. As I said earlier, a lot of account names are merely personal preferences based on what the accountant who set up the chart of accounts learned in school. For example, when I got my accounting degree back in the Bronze Age, I developed a preference for "earnings" for all items above "net income". But I often see "net financial income (or interest income or whatever) now appearing in the revenue section above expenses.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 36 mins (2004-08-11 14:40:19 GMT)
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I also agree with CMJ that the \"best\" solution in your case would have been to simply use EBIT alone since it was already provided. If you really wanted to translate Betriebsergebniss in that case, then operating earnings/earnings from operations would have been \"more\" appropriate given it was followd by EBIT. (See, even then there is a choice to be made!)
Selected response from:

Ted Wozniak
United States
Local time: 13:05
Grading comment
Thanks Ted - and your comment "although I do have certain clients (either schooled in BE or those who "know English") who insist on "results" even where this can be confusing in Fliesstext " is exactly the situation I was faced with. Good to know that I'm not alone!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +1earnings/results/income depending on context and preference
Ted Wozniak
4 +1fashions change....xxxCMJ_Trans
4IncomeGlenn Peach
3earnings
Steffen Walter
1The E WordsRobinB


  

Answers


13 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
earnings


Explanation:
I'm by no means sure but based on
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/operatingearnings.asp ,
your EBIT would have been operating earnings. IMHO "results" might be too vague; the term is also used in a much broader sense than just accounting (caution! unverified assumption - there might also be a stricter definition I am momentarily unaware of). By contrast, to add to the confusion, I've also seen Betriebsergebnis translated as "operating profit".

My 2c just to get things moving - others will surely have brighter ideas. (Robin, what about your input?)

Steffen Walter
Germany
Local time: 20:05
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in category: 416
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18 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Income


Explanation:
Income or profit also works. Not to confuse the issue....Tell your "english speaking" customer that the English speaking target audience he is paying you big bucks to help him communicate with will understand the english text you have provided.
Perhaps he too has heard the interchangeability of, for example, 1st qtr earnings and 1st qtr results. Just listen to CNN!
You have done your research and provided a quality translation. Now he is asking you to provide free classes in financial accounting 101.


Glenn Peach
Local time: 20:05
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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26 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
fashions change....


Explanation:
Back in ancient history when I started translating, everyone blithely referred to "results". The reason often was that "operating results" got round the problem of whether the company had made a profit or a loss. In recent years, however, with the use of the terms EBIT and EBITDA, etc. the word earnings has been taking over from results. In fact when I see "Betriebsergebnis" I have no hesitation in using these acronyms, choosing the right one (I hope!) from the context given. Frankly, in the case you quote, I would just have put EBIT, since the basic text already supplied you with a ready-made translation....

HTH

xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 20:05
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 2

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  RobinB: Presumably by "ancient history" you mean when Anglo-Saxon GAAP was actually written in Anglo-Saxon.
1 hr
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31 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
earnings/results/income depending on context and preference


Explanation:
Hi Allison,

The short answer is that the earnings/results are interchangeble.

The long answer is that convention and personal preference (the company's, the accountants, whoever's) all to often makes a difference. For example, one company may use operating results, another results from operations, another operating income, and yet another, earnings from operations.

There is also a British "preference" (tendency?) for results over earnings, but this is NOT a hard and fast AE vs. BE convention as is the case with turnover vs. revenue.

With respect to translations from German, recent trends seem to lean to "Earnings" (or the abbreviated variants EBT, EBIT, EBITDA etc.), although I do have certain clients (either schooled in BE or those who "know English") who insist on "results" even where this can be confusing in Fliesstext (Projecktergebnisse as "project results" instead of project earnings/income).

Sorry I can't give you a hard and fast answer but I don't think there is one. As I said earlier, a lot of account names are merely personal preferences based on what the accountant who set up the chart of accounts learned in school. For example, when I got my accounting degree back in the Bronze Age, I developed a preference for "earnings" for all items above "net income". But I often see "net financial income (or interest income or whatever) now appearing in the revenue section above expenses.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 36 mins (2004-08-11 14:40:19 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I also agree with CMJ that the \"best\" solution in your case would have been to simply use EBIT alone since it was already provided. If you really wanted to translate Betriebsergebniss in that case, then operating earnings/earnings from operations would have been \"more\" appropriate given it was followd by EBIT. (See, even then there is a choice to be made!)

Ted Wozniak
United States
Local time: 13:05
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 722
Grading comment
Thanks Ted - and your comment "although I do have certain clients (either schooled in BE or those who "know English") who insist on "results" even where this can be confusing in Fliesstext " is exactly the situation I was faced with. Good to know that I'm not alone!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  RobinB
52 mins
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 1/5Answerer confidence 1/5
The E Words


Explanation:
Ergebnis(se)
Ertrag/Erträge
Erfolg
Erlös(e)
Einkommen
Einnahmen
Einkünte

Not that they're all synonymous, but they all seem to be problematic. No, I'm wrong, they *are* all problematic.

I think this is a points-free zone, so have given my ramblings the lowest confidence level. I'm also sitting on a bggr of a text on Pfandbriefe so don't have long.

First off, I certainly agree with Ted. Actually, I thought he got his accounting degree back when the core of the earth was cooling, but maybe he's younger than David Tweedie after all :-)

Of course there's no hard-and-fast rule about these things, but here are some thoughts of my own. Using "result" is a useful catch-all where you don't know whether it's a profit or a loss. This often happens when you've got no context, or when the annual or interim financial statements and notes and/or management report arrive with a lot of "Xs" where the figures should be. Or where - as happened to one of our customers - the company has decided to introduce SAP R/3, and the entire accounting department ends up working 24x7 to get the figures ready - in Excel(!) Of course you can always write "profit (loss)" too, as Alison could have done in her example.

"Results" often tends to be used in the more general sense when the company announces a whole load of figures relating to the year or quarter: not just headline earnings, but also e.g. capex, major contracts, restructurings, acquisitions, etc.

OTOH, you talk about "earnings releases", "earnings forecasts", not "results releases/forecasts", primarily I suppose because these focus on the various net amounts.

Another trend that's very clear is the contamination of accounting-speak by analyst-speak (where analyst-speak also covers financial communication and financial journalism in general). EBITDA, EBIT, EBT and EBITDASO are what are known in the US as "non-GAAP financial measures", in other words they aren't defined or used in financial accounting and reporting (or they shouldn't be at least), which is why there are very tight restrictions on their use in the US. But that doesn't stop a growing number of German CEOs/CFOs from adding them to their income statements. Their excuse is that "this helps the analysts", but to be honest, I think they're just trying to be cool and angelsächsisch. The point here is that you can define EBIT etc. anyway you want, and there's no assurance of comparability across companies (unless the analysts drill down in the accounts and establish their own basis of measurement).

Other than that, it's down to personal taste to a large extent, I'm afraid. In a narrative (management report, MD&A, press release, etc.) I personally prefer to sprinkle several terms around (result(s), earnings, profit) so it reads a bit better, but I'm also aware that many German customers prefer the "one German term = one English term" view of the world.

But to sum up: if you've got a lot a money to pay, you've also got a lot of choices. And the customer will almost always be wrong :-)

RobinB
Germany
Local time: 20:05
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 909
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