The ticker or symbol is an abbreviation under which a publicly traded company is listed on the stock exchange. Every asset class, whether equities, futures contracts or option derivatives, have tickers or symbols. A trader uses this to quickly enter a trade or pull up the price chart for that security. The symbol often includes a dot that denotes an extension of the security. In equities, the extension tells investors the type, class or domestic region in which the stock is listed.
Many traders who use Reuters symbology have come across the dot extension for many listed securities. Reuters, one of the biggest international financial information companies, uses the dot extension to denote stocks that trade on another exchange outside the U.S. For example, Vodafone VOD has an extension "VOD.L," signifying that it is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Other information companies use a space instead of a dot to append the exchange.
Type of Shares
The New York Stock Exchange leverages the dot to denote characteristics of a stock. In the NYSE, preferred shares are denoted with a .PR, while common shares are treated as the base case and have no extension. Since common and preferred shares have different earning priorities, investors may need to know which type of stock they are buying into. Other type of shares are warrant (.WS) and rights (.R), each with subtle differences in stock ownership rules and access.
Class of Shares
Another common use of the dot extension is to denote classes of shares. Two types of shares are Class A and Class B. These often come with different voting privileges: the Class A holders often have more voting rights in choosing the board of directors than holders of Class B shares. One of the best-known class denotations are the BRK.A and BRK.B shares of the Berkshire Hathaway Company, which is owned by Warren Buffet.
Pink sheets are stocks that trade over the counter through market makers who provide these options to interested investors. These stocks are not listed on the main national exchanges like the NYSE and the Nasdaq. Instead, pink sheets trade on the OTC Bulletin Board, where they are marked with a ".PK" extension. Stocks of small companies with very little capitalization trade in the OTC markets as pink sheets.
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