Past earnings. Often used in the context of the price earnings ratio. This ratio is usually distinguished as price to trailing earnings (today's price divided by the most recent 12 months of earnings) versus price to prospective earnings (today's price divided by consensus forecast earnings for the next 12 months).
A company's earnings over a previous period of time. Commonly, one examines a company's earnings over the most recently completed fiscal year; these may be considered trailing earnings. However, the term "trailing" often implies a value calculated on a rolling basis. That is, trailing earnings may describe the most recent 12 month period. These earnings will change each month as the nearest month is added to the calculation and the most distant month is dropped. See also: Trailing 12 Month.
The earnings per share for a firm's most recently completed fiscal year.