Finding the Price of a Stock from a Previous Year

Historical stock quotes on financial websites sometimes go back multiple years.

Chad Baker/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

When you analyze a stock for investment, it’s important to review its prices from previous years. This can help you determine how the stock performed in past business cycles, how it reacted to certain economic events and how much profit it has generated for investors. You can find historical stock prices on most financial websites that provide stock information. Each site differs, but there are some general guidelines you can follow to find the data.

Main Quote Page

To access a stock’s prices from a previous year, you first must pull up its current quote. On a financial website -- such as Daily Finance, Yahoo! Finance or USA Today Money -- type the stock’s ticker symbol into the quote text box near the top of the page and click “Get Quote” or a similar button. A ticker symbol identifies an individual stock and consists of one or more letters. For example, the fictitious company WXYZ Inc. might have the symbol “WXYZ.”

Historical Prices Page

A stock’s main quote page includes links that lead to additional information about the stock. Click “Historical Prices” or a similar link to view a list of the stock’s past prices. The historical-prices page initially shows the stock’s most recent prices, but you can choose a custom date range to see prices from a previous year.

Selecting a Date Range

To view prices for a single day in a previous year, input that date as the start and end date and click “Get Prices” or a similar button. To see prices for a range of days, input the first day as the start date and the last day as the end date. For example, assume you want to view a stock’s prices for each trading day of 2012. Enter “Jan. 1, 2012,” as the start date and “Dec. 31, 2012,” as the end date. (See References 1)

Interpreting Prices

The historical prices section shows multiple prices for each trading day. The open and close prices represent the first and last trade of the day, respectively. The high and low prices represent the most and least the stock traded for during the day. For example, if a stock had a high of $22 and a close of $19, it reached a maximum price of $22 and ended the day at $19.

Weekly and Monthly Prices

On some financial sites, you can view weekly and monthly prices for your selected date range. If you choose one of these options, the site shows the high, low, open and close for each week or month. Similar to the daily prices, the high and low are the maximum and minimum prices for the period, while the open and close are the prices on the first and last trades of the period.

Adjusted Closing Prices

Some sites also show an adjusted closing price for each trading day. This price factors in the effects of stock splits and dividends and makes it easier to compare prices from a previous year to the current price. For instance, if a stock has an actual closing price of $32 on a particular day in a previous year and an adjusted closing price of $12, the $12 price would be the correct price to compare to today’s price.