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Reading a Quote

We simplify online investing—but simple doesn't mean we skimp on the information you may need to help you invest wisely. Take a look at a stock quote. There's a lot of information there. Let's break it down and guide you through how to read a quote snapshot. Scroll over this sample Microsoft snapshot and select a panel for an explanation of each reference—we'll walk you through it, step by step, so you can learn how to read a stock quote with confidence.

Your Investment in MSFT

This is a quick overview of any position you may hold of this security. In this example, the investor owns 287.3 shares of Microsoft, for a total stock value of $9961.14.

Additional Trading Options is a quick way to see what investment options are available for this particular security—Automatic Investment Plan (AIP), Express Funding (EF) and Margin (M).

My Portfolio & My Watch List

My Portfolio shows you a list of the securities you own, the current price per share for each, and the amount each share has increased or decreased from the previous trading day. My Watch List gives the same info for the ones you're just keeping an eye on.

Hover over the symbol for a quick peek into the day's activity, or if you're ready to buy (or sell), select Trade to go place your order.

Key Statistics & Ratios

This section gives you the rundown of the basic investment metrics for your stock. How you use them is a more involved topic, but we'll describe how each is calculated. (Here's a hint: "TTM" means "Trailing Twelve Months.")

  • Earnings Per Share (TTM): This refers to the amount earned on each share of stock over the past 12 months. In our Microsoft example, the Earnings Per Share (EPS) is $2.79.
  • Price to Earnings (TTM): This valuation ratio compares a stock's current price to its per-share earnings over the past 12 months. P/E is often measured against other stocks in an industry to compare whether a stock is under or overvalued.
  • Price to Sales (TTM): This ratio is calculated by dividing the current price per share by the company's revenue per share. Some analysts prefer this metric because it doesn't consider expenses or debt (as Price to Earnings does).
  • Price to Book: This ratio compares a stock's market value to its book value. Divide the price per share by the last quarter's book value to arrive at this number. Book value is a company's assets minus its liabilities on a per-share basis.
  • Quarterly Dividend: Companies generally distribute profits to their shareholders (that's you) in the form of dividends. In this Microsoft example, the investor earned a Quarterly Dividend of $0.23 for each share.
  • Annual Dividend Yield: This ratio shows how much a company pays out in dividends each year, relative to its share price.

More Key Data: This link will take you to the company's Profile page, where you'll find a more detailed list of stock performance metrics.

Company Profile

This snapshot gives you the basic information on the company, including contact information, industry, sector and number of employees.

Quote Basics

In the first line, you see the symbol representing the stock in the market, the name of the company, and the exchange on which the company's stock trades. The blue flag is your clue to the type of security. In this case, we have Microsoft Corp., which is Common Stock (CS), trading on the NASDAQ under the symbol MSFT.

Last Price: This refers to the stock's price at the most recent point in time—the last price at which it traded. In this example, as of 12:21 PM ET, Microsoft's last price was $34.61.

Today's Change: This is how much the price has changed, compared to the previous day's closing price. In this example, the price is up $0.25 for the day.

Estimated Volume: This is an estimate of how many shares of this security have traded hands during this market session. In this example, about 14,250,000 shares of Microsoft have traded.

Market Cap: Market capitalization is the total value of the stock, calculated by multiplying the number of shares outstanding by the share price of the stock. In this example, Microsoft has $289 billion in total market capitalization.

Price Movement

Investors often track price patterns, believing that it will help them better predict the direction of the stock price. In this sample snapshot, we see a chart showing the price movement of Microsoft stock over the past three days.

Setting the timeframe: You can change the view of your price movement chart by going to the dropdown box in the upper right corner of the chart (here it is set to "3 Day")—you can laser in on one-day price movement or look at it over the past 10 years.

Reading between the lines: The dotted blue line refers to the previous day's closing price, and the red and green lines show the movement of stock price throughout the day. A red line indicates that the trading price is below the previous close, while a green line indicates that the trading price is above.

Looking for more? Visit the Charts tab to dig in to the nitty gritty and to interact with events, and technical indicators that may have moved that price.

Price Movement Details

This section provides some clear numbers to help explain the current stock price movement.

Bid/Ask: The bid price is the price at which you can sell your shares. The ask price is the price at which you can buy shares on the market.

(Estimated) Volume: This is the estimated number of shares that have changed hands (traded) over the course of the day.

Market Cap: The total value of the company's stock, calculated by multiplying the number of shares outstanding by the share price of the stock. In this example, Microsoft has $289 billion in total market capitalization.

Open: The price at which the stock opened at the start of the market day on the last day of trading. Note that this number is different from the closing price on the previous day — sometimes very different.

Day High and Day Low: The highest and lowest trading price reached at any point throughout the trading day.

52 Week High and Low: The highest (and lowest) trading price reached at any point in the last 52 weeks (not the calendar year). Here, Microsoft's highest trading price in the last 52 weeks occurred on June 7, 2013.

Previous Close: The closing price of the stock on the previous trading day.

Ratings & Reports

Want input from industry experts? Get FREE in-depth analyst reports and Buy, Sell, Hold stock ratings from Morningstar, Sabrient, and The Street. Or check out the Markit Research Team™ Consensus Reports, featuring one combined rating from up to 19 research providers, including Morningstar, Argus, MarketGrader.com and more.

In The News

Check out real-time, relevant news about the stock, the parent company and updates from industry sectors that might impact the stock's share price.

We compile headlines from the best investing sources out there, including:

  • Wall Street Journal
  • Kiplinger's
  • Dow Jones
  • New York Times
  • MarketWatch
  • Barron's Weekly