Many beginning investors and option traders often are confused the first time they see a typical quote page for a stock they are interested in trading. Most quote pages, whether they are from your brokerage house or other sources like the Internet, display a common set of information. In this article we will use the "Quote" page generated by the Optionetics.com website to break down the specific data elements that are presented.
Referring to Figure 1, below, and using the fictitious company XYZ, let's go through each individual element listed after the symbol has been entered. One of the first data elements is LAST. The LAST entry represents the last price traded for this stock.
The next piece of information is the OPEN. The OPEN is the first price given for the stock in a trading session. The HIGH is the highest price paid for the stock in a trading session and the LOW represents the lowest price given in the trading session.
This brings us to the BID and ASK. The BID data element is the highest price any buyer is willing to pay for the stock. Essentially the quoted BID is a maximum price a market maker will pay for the stock. The ASK price represents the lowest price that any investor or dealer will sell the stock. Next are the 52-week high and the 52-week low numbers. The 52-week high is the highest price the stock has reached over the last 52-weeks. The 52-week low is the lowest price the stock has reached over a 52-week time period.
The EPS is the total earnings divided by the number of shares outstanding. Companies often use a weighted average of shares outstanding over the reporting term. The Volume figure represents the number of shares exchanging hands during the trading day while the Shares Outstanding entry is the shares of a company's stock that have been issued and are in the hands of the public and is often referred to as outstanding stock.
The last three data elements displayed are Market Cap, P/E Ratio and Dividend. The Market Cap also known as market capitalization is the market price of the entire company, calculated by multiplying the number of shares outstanding by the price per share. The P/E Ratio or price/earnings ratio is the most common measure on how expensive a stock is at the time. The P/E Ratio is equal to a stock's market capitalization divided by its after-tax earnings over a 12-month period.
The Dividend caption tells the investor if the stock pays a dividend or not and, if so, how much it pays. A dividend is declared by a company's board of directors and given to its shareholders out of the company's retained earnings, which is typically done on a quarterly basis. All new stock investors should review the Quote page, whether it is from their own brokerage, a financial newspaper or going to Optionetics.com website. The more you see it the easier it will be to understand the stock information being presented.
Figure 1: Quote Page, "XYZ"
Senior Writer, Options Strategist
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