How to Read a Stock Quote

Reading stock quote screens is a quick and easy way to research stocks or uncover new potential investments. In this tutorial, I will explain the definition for every term or number you see on most commonly used stock quote pages. We’ll use Yahoo! Finance as the example for this tutorial.

Let’s quickly review the terms mentioned on the quote page above for Apple.

  • Previous Close: The price of the stock at the previous trading session ending at 4PM EST.
  • Open: The price of the stock during the most recent trading session starting at 9:30AM EST
  • Bid: The price and number of shares a buyer wants to acquire.
  • Ask: The price and number of shares a seller wants to receive.
  • Day’s Range: The highest and lowest prices of the most recent trading session.
  • 52 Week Range: THe highest and lowest stock prices over the last 52 weeks
  • Volume: The total number of shares traded in the most recent trading session.
  • Avg Volume: The average number of shares traded over the last month
  • Market Cap: The total value of the company when you multiply share price X total outstanding shares
  • Beta: A way to determine how volatile a stock is. The S&P 500 has a beta of 1 so if the beta is higher than 1, it’s considered more volatile. If it’s less than 1, the stock isn’t moving much at all.
  • P/E Ratio: The stock price dividend by earnings per share. Many investors use this ratio to find out how many years it will take to get their investment back. If a company doesn’t have earnings, the ratio is zero.
  • EPS: Net income dividend by total outstanding shares. EPS is a good way to find profitable companies.
  • Earnings Date: Companies must report earnings within 45 days of the closing quarter date according to SEC regulations. Companies will report their quarterly earnings within this range.
  • Forward Dividend & Yield: Fordward dividend is the annual dividend payment. The yield is calculated by dividing the forward dividend by the share price.
  • Ex-Dividend Date: This is the cutoff date for receiving dividend payouts. You must own the stock at least 1 day before the ex-dividend date to get the dividend
  • 1yr Target Est: A rough estimate from analysts on where the stock will trade in the next 52 weeks.

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