Why are some revenue figures negative?

If revenue is negative, the company may have lost money during operations or the tag may be incorrect.

This issue tends to surface when someone is doing a massive dive into the data – looking at thousands of companies at a time without consideration of the industry the company is in. It’s very common for companies that are rooted in research (biotechnology and pharmaceutical) or mining to lose money during the course of their operations. They don’t have revenue or will report negative revenue on their income statements.

When looking at a large set, negative revenues can often look like anomalies. When a ticket is sent to the support team, the first thing we look at is the filing with the SEC to determine if the company reported positive revenue and go from there. We also track companies that have either missing revenue or negative revenue, along with cost of revenues, as they tend to be related data points. If we find that the revenue is there and mismapped, we repair the tag. It doesn’t happen often, but generally fixing revenue data tags is very straightforward.

When revenue is fixed, it cascades through the calculations and metrics. Often revenue actually looks correct, but with closer analysis, we find duplicate values (due to the method the filing was submitted with) which will inflate revenue numbers. Once repaired, the system fixing the calculations and the results are typically ready in less than an hour.