We work with the numbers provided by Thomson Reuters and, therefore, follow their protocols. Current year remains in progress until the final numbers are reported. That means that for most calendar-year companies, Current Year still refers to 2009 (because most take a few weeks to release Q4 numbers) and Next Year refers to 2010. On a company by company basis, Current Year will switch to 2010 (and Next Year to 2011) after the 2009 numbers are reported.
That means that under normal circumstances, we’ll see the Current-Year estimates gradually rise early in the year, as 2010 numbers are substituted for 2009 with a comparable situation taking place in the Next Year series.
This is, obviously, an imprecise demarcation. But if you look at the graphs, it does seem to reasonably reflect the way the market reflects earnings expectations. Recessions aside, it’s normal to see earnings grow year in and year out, and the two consensus estimate series reflect that. Also, the pace of change is a bit heavier early in the year since calendar-year companies are most prevalent. This is also a reasonable approximation of the way investors gradually turn their attention from one set of time points (say, 2009-2010) to the next one (2010-2011).