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Equity Charts

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There are a multitude of newspapers and trackers which release daily or up to date equity tables of current share prices. If you understand how to read them, these charts are great sources of key information to help evaluate purchase timing of stocks you are following. It should be stated, never buy stocks solely because of chart information. Always study the financial fundamentals and situation of a firm before investing. Equity Charts can also be found online, on various websites and several brokerage platforms.

Equity charts are usually organized by exchange, and then by share ticker. If you need to look up a firm’s shares you need to know which exchange it trades on and the ticker symbol. Naturally, finding up to date share charts online are significantly easier, since the exchange and exact ticker usually is not required. They are usually updated within the past 20 minutes as well. They will be marked “Delayed” if they are 20 minutes behind and “Live Data” if they are up to date.

The following categories usually appear in share charts.

Name

Name” is usually the first category in the share charts. This is the real name of the firm, which may be shortened in order for it to fit. They will typically have an abbreviation attached to them. If it’s a preferred share, they may have the abbreviation “pf” after the name. If the shares have recently been split, an S may be attached to the name. If the share recently had high volumes of trading, the name may be underlined. This is dependent on the tendencies of the publisher.

Symbol

The share’s “Symbol” is the second category following the name. This is the actual ticker symbol of the firm on the stock exchange. Typically, firms are alphabetized by symbol or name, but this is not always the case.

Closing Price

The share’s “Closing Price” was the final trading price when markets closed yesterday. This is usually between 16:00 and 18:00 (4pm and 6pm) depending on the nation and exchange.

Opening Price

The share’s “Opening Price” is current days trading price at opening. This is typically between 8:00 and 10:00 in the morning. It’s important to note that this is not always the closing price, depending on events during after-hours.

Net Change

The “Net Change” measures changes in price during the previous trading day. Net Change is typically expressed in actual currency terms. It may be expressed in percentage terms.

Volume

The “Volume” of a share refers the amount of shares traded during the most recent trading day. This means actual transactions bought and sold, and does not refer to incomplete orders. Volume is not important in terms of firm to firm comparisons, a specific firm trading higher than another means very little. Volume is important in historical comparison for the same firm. If volume is relatively the same for an extended period of time and spikes upwards or drops suddenly, you should investigate recent events with the firm.

Annual High/Low

The Annual High/Low (may be written as 52 week high/low) show the lowest and highest prices the shares have been in the last year. This category is useful if additional information related to the firm is identified. If the firm is soaring at its highest recent price or trading at its lowest price, it may be worth digging through news headlines to see why.

Dividend

The “Dividend” category, if a dividend has been released by the firm, displays the value of dividend. If there was no dividend, this column will show a blank, a solo minus sign, or a zero. It’s important to interpret if the dividend is the quarterly dividend or an annual dividend. If quarterly, the dividend needs to be multiplied by 4 to translate to an annual total under their policy for comparison purposes. There may be an “f” attached to the dividend number in this category if the dividend rate has increased recently.

Yield

The “Yield”, in this case, refers to dividend yield. The annual dividend is divided by the most recent closing share price, and the result is printed in this column. Since the yield is calculated with the most recent closing share price, this category changes daily. It is typically subject to change during any trading hour depending on the price, even if it changes only slightly.

Price to Earnings

The “Price to Earnings”, or PE, refers to the share’s current price divided by its earnings per share for the previous year.

Year to Date

The “Year to Date”, or “YTD”, measures the changes in the shares value over the course of the year. This can be listed in terms of price or percentages.

Capitalization

The “Capitalization” is a measure of the firm’s total market size, based on share prices.  This results in the total market value of the firm. Capitalization is calculated by multiplying the outstanding shares by the current market price per share.

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