What Does .PK Mean After a Stock Symbol?

A ".PK" after a stock ticker means it's listed by the OTC Markets Group Inc. This company lists stocks, usually over-the-counter securities, from market-makers and brokers who use the group to list selling prices as well ask and bid prices. These stocks are usually from smaller companies, thinly traded, with varying degrees of financial reporting attached to them.

Pink Sheets

“PK” is a reference to pink sheets. Stock quotes printed on pink paper were introduced in 1913 by a company called the National Quotation Bureau. Over time, the pink sheets became synonymous with over-the-counter stocks, which usually lack the financial reporting found in their counterparts in the New York Stock Exchange. NQB evolved into Pink Sheets LLC in 2000 and started electronically listing its stocks in Pinksheets.com. It is a competitor to the OTC Bulletin Board. Although stringent financial reporting is not necessary to be included among the OTC Markets Group's listings, the company categorizes stocks in three tiers.

OTCQX and OTCQB

The OTCQX and the OTCQB tiers contain stocks that meet the OTC Markets Group’s highest level of reporting standards. The ORCQX tier, according to the group, includes the securities of companies with the “highest financial standards and superior information availability.” They call this the “Intelligent Marketplace.” The OTCQB tier includes securities of companies that are “current in their reporting with a U.S. regulator.” However, there are “no financial or qualitative standards to be in this tier.”

OTC Pink

The last tier offered by the OTC Markets Group is the OTC Pink category. It has the most minimal reporting requirements. Companies in this category must adhere to the International Reporting Standard or the Alternative Reporting Standard. This can be done by publicly filing reports, through the group, that adhere to certain guidelines. The aim is to give investors enough information to make “sound” decisions when selecting stocks. The group is looking for information such as a company’s business plan, a list of assets, and how it intends to use them to make a profit. Companies in this category are also ranked according to ability to report information over time, a condition that is often dictated by a company’s financial status. Keep in mind that companies in this category might be on firm footing but not willing to disclose information at all.

Buying .PK Stocks

Investors can get these stocks via large investor houses that work with market-makers and brokers. In fact, getting them might be the easy part. Unloading them can be more difficult. Because the reporting requirements can be varied, and are often full of holes, the Securities and Exchange Commission suggests a thorough examination of companies before buying their .PK stock. These stocks can be associated with high risk, and they usually lack the stability of stocks in exchanges that have more stringent reporting standards.

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About the Author

Based in Mattapoisett, Mass., Jason Perez-Dormitzer has been an award-winning journalist and editor since 1995. His work has appeared in "American Banker," "Taunton Daily Gazette," "The Standard-Times," "Brown (University) Medicine" and the "Providence Business Journal," among others. He holds a B.A. in journalism from Rutgers University.

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