Learning to Understand the Stock Market Statistics

Uncertainty rules the day where market tips are concerned. Statistics show the past performance of stocks and probabilities for what will happen in the future. Thus certainty—of what happened—and uncertainty— of what probably will happen, based on the past performance— defines the statistics of the stock market.

Everyone is familiar with the dull, dry and incomprehensible financial pages in newspapers. These were the pages non-investors used to line bird cages, place under litter boxes and were utilized for other household chores before some entrepreneur invented plastics.

 Once, however, these were the guiding sheets for those who invested in the stock market; now most likely, the internet and a few special websites will be checked into by savvy investors who will want to know how their stocks are doing, or if they want to know where to find that next best deal. The price changes each day and takes in past performances. It is based on the high or low in a 52 week period. Thus the high might be 30 dollars and the low might be 12. The following is based on newspaper statistics.

Column 1, the price: On the tables you’ll find the company name, its symbol, the price, + or -, 52 week high or low, (52h or 52l), volume ‘000s, yield, P/E, Div net, Div cov, MKt Cap. What in the world do these squiggles mean?

*Column 2:  The company symbol is nothing more than an abbreviated version of their name.  As an example, on the NYSE stock exchange, GE is the symbol for General Electric; MSFT is Microsoft; JPM is for JPMorgan Chase and Company. In newspaper the exchange price of stocks will be in the first column and the stock symbol will be in the second column.

Sometimes the symbols alongside will have an added little letter squiggles such as (wtA), a warrant to buy a specified number of stocks until a specified cut off time; (Ensch pf), preferred stock, a mixture between a stock and bond; (entax n), stock was issued sometime in past 52 weeks; (vj), the stock is in bankruptcy proceedings.  

* Column 3 in newspaper listings is for dividends. All you will see is Div. This will show, according to How to Read the Financial Pages by Peter Passell, the amount paid to stock holders on an annual basis. Generally this will be the amount the prospective buyer will make on this investment. An (s) after this figure means the company has issued a dividend in the past year; The letter g means the money is in Canadian money.

*Column 4 is Yld% which means how much money each dividend yielded the past year. If no dividend was paid, no Yld% will be shown.

*Column 5 is P-E translates into price and earnings over a twelve month period. The numerical number, if one is shown, is for the number of times it is selling above its last year’s earnings. If none is shown, no dividend is paid. This is an important statistic and is one most investors check closely.

*Column 6 lists the number of shares traded divided by 100. This is for measuring volume. It’s an important indicator of how liquid the stock is—how easy it can be bought or sold. If an (x) is placed in front of the figure it signifies that it’s selling without it current dividends. The seller will get the current dividend.

*Column 7 is about how high (h) the price soared that day and how low (l). If a (u) precedes the high it says this is the highest price this year; a letter (d) means it’s the lowest price that year. Investors are told that if there a large discrepancy between the high and the low it means investors aren’t sure about the value of the stock or it is was thinly—over a long period of time.

*Column 8 is Close, meaning the price of the last selling.

*Column 9 is Chg or the changing price of this day’s trading from that of the previous day.

Statistics only help you guess and in no way guarantees success. But with practice an investor learns how to read the charts more carefully and will build up an expertise in being right on the money more times than wrong.