Reading Stock Quotes

Definition

A stock quote gives essential information about a particular stock at a point in time.  The quote normally includes information such as the name of the company, the ticker symbol, the price, the day’s high and low prices, and the trading volume.

Details

Usually when you get a stock quote, you see lots of other information about that company and that stock price. The most important thing to note is the time-stamp that shows you how old the stock quote is. The other important pieces of information a stock quote shows is the day’s high, low and volume, and sometimes the 52-week high and low.

Parts Of A Quote

Take a look at the quote above – here is the information you can find:

The Basic Quote

The top of the chart has the “basic quote” – you can also find this information on the trading page after you enter a symbol. The biggest number is the “last price”, $204.41 in the example above. This is the last price the stock traded at in the real world.

You can also find:

  • Day’s Change (how much the stock price changed in the last trading day)
  • Bid/Ask price (how much buyers and sellers in the real market are willing to pay for this stock)
  • Time Stamp (when this quote was issued)
  • Volume (how many shares of this stock traded so far today, or the last trading day)

The Stock Chart

Stock charts show how the price of the stock has moved over time. Most stock charts give options for different time scales, so you can see the stock’s price movements for the current day, most recent month, or longer-term trends.

The Dividend Rate, Dividend Yield, and Ex-Div Date

Companies that are consistently profitable often pay out part of their earnings to shareholders.  This is called a dividend.  In the image above, Apple pays out $0.63 per share per quarter. The Dividend Yield is the percentage of the stock’s price that is paid out in dividends per year, so we can calculate that the $0.63 quarterly dividend is $2.52 annually.

The Ex-Div Date is the date the last payment was based on.  You had to be a shareholder at the close of business the previous day to get that dividend.  Most companies pay dividends quarterly but list the annual amount.

Bid and Ask Price

The Bid Price is the highest price a buyer is willing to pay for the stock; the Ask Price is the lowest price a seller is willing to sell the stock.  If you place a Market Order to buy the stock,  your order will get executed closer to the Ask Price.  If you place a Market Order to sell the stock, your order will get executed closer to the Bid Price.

Prices shown are often delayed 15 minutes because of stock exchange rules.

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1 of 3) What does a Stock Quote represent?
2 of 3) Which of these items can you find in a stock quote?
3 of 3) What is "Net Change"?

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