Understanding A Stock Table: How To Read Stock Quotes/Stock Tables?

This short article is a part of our Stock for Beginners: A Guide to Becoming a Serial Investor series. It explains the basics of how to read a stock quote/stock table.

An example stock quote/stock table (the terms are used interchangeably) looks something like this:

An AAPL (Apple Inc.) stock quote/stock table as seen on Yahoo! Finance (on 2017-07-11).

This one was taken from Yahoo! Finance. Different sources, however, like MarketWatch or MSN Money, or Google Finance, or others, may present it differently.

A quick peek at MarketWatch’s:

An AAPL (Apple Inc.) stock quote/stock table as seen on MarketWatch (on 2017-07-11).

A quick peek at MSN Money’s:

An AAPL (Apple Inc.) stock quote/stock table as seen on MSN (on 2017-07-11).

So… How Do I Read A Stock Table/Stock Quote?

Although the tables might look different at first, some features and information are shared among them. These include:

Company Name is… what else? The company name. (Here: Apple Inc.)

Usually an abbreviation of the company name, Ticker Symbol identifies the particular stock uniquely and precisely. Inquiring for the particular company, investors do rarely refer to its name, using ticker symbol instead to avoid lapses and mistakes. (Here: AAPL)

Previous Close stands for the closing price of the stock during the previous trading session. (Here: 144.18)

Open stands for the opening price of the stock at the beginning of the current trading session. (Here: 144.11)

Bid is the amount of money the current would-be shareholders are willing to part with to become a shareholders. It represents the highest current buying price. (Here: 144.60 x 400)

Ask is the amount of money the current shareholders are willing to part with their shares for. It represents the lowest current selling price. (Here: 144.69 x 100)

Day’s Range represents the price fluctuation during the current trading session. (Here: 143.37 – 145.95)

Split into 52 Week High and 52 Week Low sometimes, 52 Week Range is the highest and the lowest price the stock has reached within the past 52 weeks. (Here: 96.42 – 156.65)

Volume is the amount of shares traded during the current or last closed trading session. (Here: 21,090,636)

Avg. Volume is the average Volume over a period of time. The usual period is a quarter (three months) or two (six months). (Here: 27,297,314)

Market Capitalization — calculated by multiplying the total number of shares outstanding by the last price of the stock — is the total stock value of the company. (Here: 756,32B)

Beta represents the chance of the price of the stock to fluctuate (e.g. when the market fluctuates). It is called stock volatility sometimes. (Here: 1.43)

Often abbreviated to PE Ratio, a Price-per-Earnings or Price-to-Earnings Ratio stands for the ratio between the current price of the stock and the current earnings of the company. (Here: 17.02)

Earnings Date stands for the date the company releases its earnings report next time. (Here: Aug 1, 2017)

Dividend is the amount of money each shareholder is entitled to per each share he owns. Some companies don’t pay dividends. (Here: 2,52)

Yield refers to what percentage the dividend at hand is of this particular stock price. (Here: 1.75%)

Ex-Dividend Date stands for the date the company paid the shareholders their dividends last time. (Here: 2017-05-01)

Sometimes, there’s more info. In 99,99% of the cases, it’s service-specific (like 1Y Target Estimate on Yahoo! Finance, which stands for the predictions from the portal’s experts). The components above are more or less universal. Reading a stock table should require nothing more! (Interpreting it being another thing — we’re getting back to it in our next Stock for Beginners article!)

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