This statistic used in baseball and invented by Bill James is intended to predict a pitcher's ERA (earned run average) from the amount of walks and hits given up, rather than by the standardized formula of earned runs per nine innings. Component ERA is a fresh take on the performance of a pitcher and allows people to gauge his results in a different way.
This is also referred to as "ERC".
Different teams have their own takes on the formula, but the idea is the same throughout the league. This statistic suggests that a pitcher can actually be better or worse than his ERA. Pitchers often end up with a lower ERA than they may deserve, simply because they were able to get key double plays or because the bullpen came in and shut the door. By placing more emphasis on hits and walks, CERA allows players, managers and executives to more accurately gauge a pitcher's true ability and what his ERA "should" have been.