A quarter is a three-month period on a company's financial calendar that acts as a basis for periodic financial reports and the paying of dividends. A quarter refers to one-fourth of a year and is typically expressed as "Q1” for the first quarter, “Q2” for the second quarter, and so forth. For example, a quarter is often shown with its relevant year, as in Q1 2020 or Q1/20, which represents the first quarter of the year 2020.
Companies have two main accounting period—the fiscal quarter and the fiscal year (FY). The fiscal year for most companies runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. The standard calendar quarters that make up the year are as follows:
- January, February, and March (Q1)
- April, May, and June (Q2)
- July, August, and September (Q3)
- October, November, and December (Q4)