Q) IBES claims it includes analyst forecasts once they are available. So, if IBES does not cover a certain firm, can we assume this firm to have zero analysts following? I'm referring to both U.S. firms and international.
A) Such an assumption is a crude approximation and useful only for US firms. The best that can be said is that the IBES population of analysts did not report that they cover the firm. There are also cases where IBES removes a company or an estimator/analysts estimates from the database because of either legal and regulatory issues or reliability problems.