Ticker symbol

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Stock telegraph ticker machine by Thomas Edison Edison Stock Telegraph Ticker.jpg
Stock telegraph ticker machine by Thomas Edison

A ticker symbol or stock symbol is an abbreviation used to uniquely identify publicly traded shares of a particular stock on a particular stock market. In short, ticker symbols are arrangements of symbols or characters (generally Latin letters or digits) representing specific assets or securities listed on a stock exchange or traded publicly. A stock symbol may consist of letters, numbers, or a combination of both. "Ticker symbol" refers to the symbols that were printed on the ticker tape of a ticker tape machine.


Interpreting the symbol

Stock symbols are unique identifiers assigned to each security traded on a particular market. A stock symbol can consist of letters, numbers, or a combination of both, and is a way to uniquely identify that stock. The symbols were kept as short as possible to reduce the number of characters that had to be printed on the ticker tape, and to make it easy to recognize by traders and investors.

The allocation of symbols and formatting conventions is specific to each stock exchange. In the US, for example, stock tickers are typically between 1 and 4 letters and represent the company name where possible. For example, US-based computer company stock Apple Inc. traded on the NASDAQ exchange has the symbol AAPL, while the motor company Ford's stock that is traded on the New York Stock Exchange has the single-letter ticker F. In Europe, most exchanges use three-letter codes; for example, Dutch consumer goods company Unilever traded on the Amsterdam Euronext exchange has the symbol UNA. In Asia, numbers are often used as stock tickers to avoid issues for international investors when using non-Latin scripts. For example, the bank HSBC's stock traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has the ticker symbol 0005.

Symbols sometimes change to reflect mergers. Prior to the 1999 merger with Mobil Oil, Exxon used a phonetic spelling of the company "XON" as its ticker symbol. The symbol of the firm after the merger was "XOM". Symbols are sometimes reused. In the US the single-letter symbols are particularly sought after as vanity symbols. For example, since March of 2008 Visa Inc. has used the symbol V that had previously been used by Vivendi which had delisted and given up the symbol. [1]

To fully qualify a stock, both the ticker and the exchange or country of listing needs to be known. On many systems both must be specified to uniquely identify the security. This is often done by appending the location or exchange code to the ticker.

Example Vodafone Group plc stock ticker symbol
Location Reuters Instrument Code Bloomberg tickerYahoo ticker
London Stock ExchangeVOD.LVOD:LNVOD.L
Stock Exchange of SingaporeVOD.SIVOD:SPVOD.SI

Other identifiers

Although stock tickers identify a security, they are exchange dependent, generally limited to stocks and can change. These limitations have led to the development of other codes in financial markets to identify securities for settlement purposes. The most prevalent of these is the International Securities Identifying Number (ISIN). [2] An ISIN uniquely identifies a security and its structure is defined in ISO 6166. Securities for which ISINs are issued include bonds, commercial paper, stocks, and warrants. The ISIN code is a 12-character alpha-numerical code that does not contain information characterizing financial instruments, but serves for uniform identification of a security at trading and settlement.

The ISIN identifies the security, not the exchange (if any) on which it trades; it is therefore not a replacement for the ticker symbol. For instance, Daimler AG stock trades on twenty-two different stock exchanges worldwide, and is priced in five different currencies; it has the same ISIN on each (DE0007100000), though not the same ticker symbol. ISIN cannot specify a particular trade in this case, and another identifier, typically the three- or four-letter exchange code (such as the Market Identifier Code) will have to be specified in addition to the ISIN.

Symbol for stock market indices

While usually a stock ticker identifies a security that can be traded, stock market indices are also sometimes assigned a symbol, even though they can generally not be traded. Symbols for indices are usually distinguished by adding a symbol in front of the name, such as a circumflex (or 'caret') ^ or a dot. [3] For example, Reuters lists the Nasdaq Composite index under the symbol .IXIC. [4]

Symbols by country


In Australia the Australian Securities Exchange uses the following conventions: 3 character base symbol with the first and third character being alphanumeric and the second alphabetic. ETFs, ETMFs can be either 3 or 4 characters. Exchange-traded warrants and exchange-traded options are 6 characters. ETOs can have numbers in the sixth character.

ASX fourth, fifth and sixth-letter codes extensions
D[A–Z]Deferred settlement security, temporary code used typically during a consolidation/reverse split. Used for both Equities and Company Options.
F[A-Z][A–Z]Exchanged-traded Warrants
G or G[A–Z]Convertible Debt
H or H[A–Z]Unsecured Note
I[A–Z][A–Z]Instalment Warrant
LVNon-Voting or Limited Voting
O or O[A–G]Company option
P[A–Z]Preference/Interest Bearing security
R or R[A–Z]Company rights
W[A–Z][A–Z]Exchanged-traded Warrants
U[A–Z][A–Z]Exchanged-traded Warrants
V[A–Z][A–Z]Exchanged-traded Warrants


In Canada the Toronto Stock Exchange TSX and the TSXV use the following special codes after the ticker symbol:

TSX "behind the dot" extensions and other special codes [5]
A–B – class of sharesNO, NS, NT – notesS – special U.S. terms
DB – debentureP – Capital Pool CompanyU, V – U.S. funds
E – equity dividendPR – preferredUN – units
H – NEX marketR – subscription receiptsW – when issued
IR – installment receiptsRT – rightsWT – warrants

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, prior to 1996, stock codes were known as EPICs, named after the London Stock Exchange's Exchange Price Information Computer (e.g.: "MKS" for Marks and Spencer). Following the introduction of the Sequence trading platform in 1996, EPICs were renamed Tradable Instrument Display Mnemonics (TIDM), but they are still widely referred to as EPICs. Stocks can also be identified using their SEDOL (Stock Exchange Daily Official List) number or their ISIN (International Securities Identification Number).

United States

In the United States, modern letter-only ticker symbols were developed by Standard & Poor's (S&P) to bring a national standard to investing. Previously, a single company could have many different ticker symbols as they varied between the dozens of individual stock markets. The term ticker refers to the noise made by the ticker tape machines once widely used by stock exchanges.

The S&P system was later standardized by the securities industry and modified as years passed. Stock symbols for preferred stock have not been standardized. [6]

Some companies use a well-known product as their ticker symbol. Belgian brewer AB InBev, the brewer of Budweiser beer, uses "BUD" (symbolizing its premier product in the United States) as its three-letter ticker for American Depository Receipts. Its rival, the Molson Coors Brewing Company, uses a similarly beer-related symbol, "TAP". Likewise, Southwest Airlines pays tribute to its headquarters at Love Field in Dallas through its "LUV" symbol. Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which operates large amusement parks in the United States, uses "FUN" as its symbol. Harley-Davidson uses "HOG", an abbreviation for the corporate-sponsored Harley Owners Group. [7] Yamana Gold uses "AUY", because on the periodic table of elements, "Au" is the symbol for gold. Sotheby's (the famous auction house) uses the symbol "BID". Petco uses the symbol "WOOF," a reference to the sound made by dogs.

While most symbols come from the company's name, sometimes it happens the other way around. Tricon Global, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, adopted the symbol "YUM" to represent its corporate mission when the company was spun out of PepsiCo in 1997. In 2002, the company changed its name to match its symbol, adopting the name Yum! Brands. [8]

Symbols sometimes change to reflect mergers. Prior to the 1999 merger with Mobil, Exxon used a phonetic spelling of the company "XON" as its ticker symbol. The symbol of the firm after the merger was "XOM". After Hewlett-Packard merged with Compaq, the new firm took on the ticker symbol "HPQ". (The former symbols were HWP and CPQ.) AT&T's ticker symbol is simply "T"; accordingly, the company is referred to simply as "Telephone" on Wall Street (the T symbol is so well known that when the company was purchased by SBC, it took the AT&T name, capitalizing on its history and keeping the desired single letter symbol).

Some examples of US Stock symbols include:

Formerly, a glance at a U.S. stock symbol and its appended codes would allow an investor to determine where a stock trades; however in July 2007, the SEC approved a rule change allowing companies moving from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq to retain their three-letter symbols; DirecTV was one of the first companies to make this move. When first implemented, the rule change did not apply to companies with one or two-letter symbols, [9] but subsequently any stock was able to move from the NYSE to the Nasdaq without changing its symbol. CA Technologies, which traded under the symbol CA before it was acquired in 2018, moved from the NYSE to the Nasdaq in April 2008 and kept its two-letter symbol. [10]

NYSE "behind the dot" or Nasdaq fifth-letter codes and other special codes
A – Class "A"K – Nonvoting (common)U Units
B – Class "B"L – MiscellaneousV – Pending issue and distribution
C – NextSharesM – fourth class preferred shares W Warrants
D – New issue or reverse splitN – third class – preferred sharesX Mutual fund
E – Delinquent SEC filings O – second class – preferred sharesY American depositary receipt (ADR)
F – ForeignP – first class preferred sharesZ – Miscellaneous situations
G – first convertible bond Q – In bankruptcy Special codes
H – second convertible bondR Rights PK – A Pink Sheet, indicating over-the-counter
I – third convertible bondS – Shares of beneficial interest SC – Nasdaq Small Cap
J – Voting share – specialT – With warrants or rightsNM – Nasdaq National Market

Single-letter NYSE ticker symbols

Unassigned letters:

Single-letter NASDAQ ticker symbols

Unassigned letters:

  • A–Y

Other countries

In countries where Arabic script is used, and in East Asia, transliterated Latin script versions of company names may be confusing to an unpracticed Western reader; stock symbols provide a simple means of clear communication in the workplace. Many Asian countries use numerical or alphanumerical ticker symbols of only digits and Roman letters to facilitate international trade.

See also

Related Research Articles

The Nasdaq Stock Market is an American stock exchange based in New York City. It is ranked second on the list of stock exchanges by market capitalization of shares traded, behind the New York Stock Exchange. The exchange platform is owned by Nasdaq, Inc., which also owns the Nasdaq Nordic stock market network and several U.S.-based stock and options exchanges.

New York Stock Exchange American stock exchange

The New York Stock Exchange is an American stock exchange in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at US$30.1 trillion as of February 2018. The average daily trading value was approximately US$169 billion in 2013. The NYSE trading floor is at the New York Stock Exchange Building on 11 Wall Street and 18 Broad Street and is a National Historic Landmark. An additional trading room, at 30 Broad Street, was closed in February 2007.

Stock exchange Organization that provides services for stock brokers and traders to trade securities

A stock exchange, securities exchange, or bourse, is an exchange where stockbrokers and traders can buy and sell securities, such as shares of stock, bonds, and other financial instruments. Stock exchanges may also provide facilities for the issue and redemption of such securities and instruments and capital events including the payment of income and dividends. Securities traded on a stock exchange include stock issued by listed companies, unit trusts, derivatives, pooled investment products and bonds. Stock exchanges often function as "continuous auction" markets with buyers and sellers consummating transactions via open outcry at a central location such as the floor of the exchange or by using an electronic trading platform.

S&P 500 Stock market index

The Standard and Poor's 500, or simply the S&P 500, is a stock market index tracking the performance of 500 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States. It is one of the most commonly followed equity indices. As of December 31, 2020, more than $5.4 trillion was invested in assets tied to the performance of the index.

An International Securities Identification Number (ISIN) uniquely identifies a security. Its structure is defined in ISO 6166. The ISIN code is a 12-character alphanumeric code that serves for uniform identification of a security through normalization of the assigned National Number, where one exists, at trading and settlement.

Corporate action Event initiated by a public company

A corporate action is an event initiated by a public company that brings or could bring an actual change to the securities—equity or debt—issued by the company. Corporate actions are typically agreed upon by a company's board of directors and authorized by the shareholders. For some events, shareholders or bondholders are permitted to vote on the event. Examples of corporate actions include stock splits, dividends, mergers and acquisitions, rights issues, and spin-offs.

The Nasdaq-100 (^NDX) is a stock market index made up of 101 equity securities issued by 100 of the largest non-financial companies listed on the Nasdaq stock market. It is a modified capitalization-weighted index. The stocks' weights in the index are based on their market capitalizations, with certain rules capping the influence of the largest components. It is based on exchange, and it does not have any financial companies. The financial companies are in a separate index, the NASDAQ Financial-100.

SEDOL stands for Stock Exchange Daily Official List, a list of security identifiers used in the United Kingdom and Ireland for clearing purposes. The numbers are assigned by the London Stock Exchange, on request by the security issuer. SEDOLs serve as the National Securities Identifying Number for all securities issued in the United Kingdom and are therefore part of the security's ISIN as well. The SEDOL Masterfile (SMF) provides reference data on millions of global multi-asset securities each uniquely identified at the market level using a universal SEDOL code.

A CUSIP is a nine-digit numeric or nine-character alphanumeric code that identifies a North American financial security for the purposes of facilitating clearing and settlement of trades. The CUSIP was adopted as an American National Standard under Accredited Standards X9.6. The acronym, pronounced as "kyoo-sip," derives from Committee on Uniform Security Identification Procedures.

The Russell 1000 Index is a stock market index that tracks the highest-ranking 1,000 stocks in the Russell 3000 Index, which represent about 93% of the total market capitalization of that index. As of 31 December 2021, the stocks of the Russell 1000 Index had a weighted average market capitalization of $608.1 billion and a median market capitalization of $15.1 billion. As of 8 May 2020, components ranged in market capitalization from $1.8 billion to $1.4 trillion. The index, which was launched on January 1, 1984, is maintained by FTSE Russell, a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange Group.

The Russell 3000 Index is a capitalization-weighted stock market index that seeks to be a benchmark of the entire U.S stock market. It measures the performance of the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in America as measured by total market capitalization, and represents approximately 97% of the American public equity market. The index was launched on January 1, 1984, and is maintained by FTSE Russell, a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange Group. The ticker symbol on most systems is ^RUA.

The OTC (Over-The-Counter) Bulletin Board or OTCBB was a United States quotation medium operated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for its subscribing members. FINRA closed the OTCBB on November 8, 2021.

A Reuters instrument code, or RIC, is a ticker-like code used by Refinitiv to identify financial instruments and indices. The codes are used for looking up information on various Refinitiv financial information networks and appear to have developed from the Quotron service purchased in the 1980s.

The Consolidated Tape Association (CTA) oversees the dissemination of real-time trade and quote information in New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and American Stock Exchange (AMEX) listed securities. It is currently chaired by Emily Kasparov of the Chicago Stock Exchange, the first woman and the youngest chair elected to the position.

Market Identifier Code 4-letter identifier of financial markets, standardized by ISO 10383

The Market Identifier Code (MIC) is a unique identification code used to identify securities trading exchanges, regulated and non-regulated trading markets. The MIC is a four alphanumeric character code, and is defined in ISO 10383. by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). For example, trades that are executed on the US NASDAQ market are identified using MIC code XNAS.

The Russell Top 200 Index measures the performance of the 200 largest companies in the Russell 1000 Index, with a weighted average market capitalization of $186 billion. The median capitalization is $48 billion; the smallest company in the index has an approximate capitalization of $14 billion.

The Russell Top 50 Index measures the performance of the largest companies in the Russell 3000 Index. It includes approximately 50 of the largest securities based on a combination of their market cap and current index membership and represents approximately 40% of the total market capitalization of the Russell 3000.

Uniform Symbology, in the context of European financial markets, refers to a common scheme to refer to securities ("symbols"), adopted by European markets in 2008. The original announcement reads as follows:

In order to facilitate orderly and efficient trading of securities across multiple markets, the founders of the Committee on Uniform Symbology agreed to create and adopt a common securities symbology to uniformly identify securities traded across Europe. A committee was formed for the purpose of which was to create, maintain and modify as necessary the uniform methodology for securities symbology to be applied to the securities and to develop and use the Uniform Symbology in furtherance of the committee’s aims and objectives. Since the founding of the Committee on Uniform Symbology other members have joined including: Turquoise, NYSE Euronext and QUOTE MTF.

The Financial Instrument Global Identifier (FIGI) is an open standard, unique identifier of financial instruments that can be assigned to instruments including common stock, options, derivatives, futures, corporate and government bonds, municipals, currencies, and mortgage products. Also see: Open Data

Japan Exchange Group Japanese company

Japan Exchange Group, Inc., abbreviated as JPX or Nippon Torihikijo, is a Japanese financial services corporation regulated by the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act. JPX owns and operates the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), the Osaka Exchange (OSE), and the Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM). It was formed by the merger of TSE and OSE on January 1, 2013. As a result of this merger and market reorganization, TSE became the sole securities exchange of JPX and OSE became the largest derivatives exchange of JPX. In 2019, JPX acquired TOCOM to expand derivatives-related businesses in the commodity market. The corporation also has a self-regulatory body, Japan Exchange Regulation, and a clearing house, Japan Securities Clearing Corporation (JSSC). As of June 2021, it is the world's fifth-largest stock exchange operator, behind NYSE, NASDAQ, SSE, and HKSE.


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