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Fiscal budget years vary wildly among entities

I must have pulled a Rip VanWinkle. I woke up this morning to read that 1-800Flowers is reporting losses during the first fiscal quarter of 2016. I guess I should have sold my holdings in December 2015!

— Donna D., Ashland

Well, Donna, you can push that snooze button and not worry one bit about your stock portfolio.

Nearly two-thirds of the publicly traded corporations, and many closely held companies, as well as government entities and jurisdictions run on fiscal budget years that don't match calendar years.

The city of Medford, for example runs on a fiscal year beginning July 1. The federal government begins its fiscal year in October, which explains there is so much government shutdown talk heading into and during October.

Harry & David Holdings, like the company 1-800Flowers.com that acquired it in September 2014, ran on a fiscal year beginning on or around July 1. In 1-800Flowers.com's case, the fiscal year ended June 28. The company's fiscal first quarter ended Sept. 28.  It does get confusing when quarterly reports for one quarter appear well into the next. Now that it is owned by 1-800Flowers.com, Harry & David's earnings are rolled into a few columns for public perusal.

By convention, a fiscal year is known by the calendar year in which it ends. So in 1-800Flowers.com's case, fiscal year 2016 began on June 29, 2015, and will end in June 2016.

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