Stock Market Listings

Figure 2.10 is a partial listing from The Wall Street Journal of stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The NYSE is one of several markets in which investors may buy or sell shares of stock. We will examine these markets in detail in Chapter 3.

To interpret the information provided for each traded stock, consider the listing for Home Depot. The first two columns provide the highest and lowest price at which the stock has traded in the last 52 weeks, $70 and $39.38, respectively. The .16 figure means that the last quarter's dividend was $.04 per share, which is consistent with annual dividend payments of $.04 X 4 = $.16. This value corresponds to a dividend yield of .3%, meaning that the dividend paid per dollar of each share is $.003. That is, Home Depot stock is selling at 50.63 (the last recorded or "close" price in the next-to-last column), so that the dividend yield is .16/50.63 = .0032 = .32%, or .3% rounded to one decimal place. The stock listings show that dividend yields vary widely among firms. It is important to recognize that high-dividend-yield stocks are not necessarily better investments than low-yield stocks. Total return to an investor comes from dividends and capital gains, or appreciation in the value of the stock. Low-dividend-yield firms presumably offer greater prospects for capital gains, or investors would not be willing to hold the low-yield firms in their portfolios.

The P/E ratio, or price-earnings ratio, is the ratio of the current stock price to last year's earnings per share. The P/E ratio tells us how much stock purchasers must pay per dollar of

46 PART I Introduction earnings that the firm generates. The P/E ratio also varies widely across firms. Where the dividend yield and P/E ratio are not reported in Figure 2.10 the firms have zero dividends, or zero or negative earnings. We shall have much to say about P/E ratios in Chapter 18.

The sales column shows that 37,833 hundred shares of the stock were traded. Shares commonly are traded in round lots of 100 shares each. Investors who wish to trade in smaller "odd lots" generally must pay higher commissions to their stockbrokers. The highest price and lowest price per share at which the stock traded on that day were 50.69 and 50.13, respectively. The last, or closing, price of 50.63 was up .25 from the closing price of the previous day.

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