Decoding the Mystery of Stock Symbols and Their Suffixes

What do the extra letters at the end of a stock symbol mean?

The mysteries of the stock symbol.

For a little over a week, a companion stock tracked EBAY, not unlike the way in which the moon of Charon tracks Pluto.  Pretty poetic stuff right?  

This tracking stock went by the symbol of EBAYV, the "V" being the designation NASDAQ uses to indicate "when issued."

Confused yet?

Okay. EBay announced earlier this year that they were going to spin off PayPal, and as that date approached, EBAYV was created.

The EBAYV symbol tracks the theoretical value of the PayPal part of EBay before it is actually spun off. Once it was actually spun off, the new symbol for PayPal became PYPL.

When this same thing happens on the NYSE, they attach a "W" to the end of a stock to indicate the same thing NASDAQ does with the "V."

Now I know you are confused. Welcome to the byzantine world of stock symbols and their prefixes. 

Making matters ever worse is that the root symbols on each exchange are not even standardized among themselves.  Then once the data is transmitter to different vendors, those vendor create a "child" symbol, the format of which varies widely.

For a stock like AAPL or IBM it’s no problem. Those are listed the same way everywhere.  The problems begin when you get into special issue like preferred stock.  Take the preferred stock for BXP (Boston Properties) for example.

The root symbol from the exchange is BXP/PB, but you won't see it displayed like that anywhere.

Yahoo Finance will show it as BXP-PB, Market Watch as BXP.PB, and TD Ameritrade as BXPpa.

Crazy huh?

Below is a list of definitions from NASDAQ for their various suffixes. 

A: Class A.

B: Class B.

C: Exempt from NASDAQ listing requirements for a limited period of time.

D: A new issue of an existing stock.

(Often the result of a reverse split.)

E: Delinquent in required filings with the SEC as determined by the NASD.

F: Foreign.

G: First Convertible Bond.

H: Second Convertible Bond, same company.

I: Third Convertible Bond, same company.

J: Voting.

K Non-voting.

L: Miscellaneous situations such as foreign preferred, preferred when-issued, a second class of units, a third class of warrants, or a sixth class of preferred stock.

M: Fourth preferred, same company.

N: Third preferred, same company.

O: Second preferred, same company.

P: First preferred.

Q: In bankruptcy proceedings.

R: Rights.

S: Beneficial interest.

T: With warrants or with rights.

U: Units.

V: When-issued and when-distributed.

W: Warrants.

X: Mutual Fund.

Y: ADR (American Depositary Receipts).

Z: Miscellaneous situations such as a second class of warrants, a fifth class of preferred stock, a stub, a foreign preferred when-issued, or any unit, receipt, or certificate representing a limited partnership interest.

The list from NYSE is even crazier, which you can check out at their site.

Fortunately, most of us will never trade or invest in one of these mutated derivations of a normal stock symbol.  However, with this key you stand a chance, if you really want to get down in the weeds, of deciphering even the most cryptic symbols.

 

Just you make sure you pack a lunch and enough water before you give it a shot.

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