Ticker Symbol

Ticker Symbol Definition

Ticker Symbol is the use of letters to represent shares that are traded on the stock market and it is mainly a combination of two or three alphabets that is unique and easy for investors to identify and buy/sell that particular stock with the help of this symbol on the stock exchange.

Some of the examples are:

  • NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) uses the ticker symbol with 3 letters or a few – such as ‘NYT’ for the New York Times Co. or ‘T’ for AT&T.
  • Symbols with 4 or more letters generally denote securities traded on the American stock exchange and NASDAQ.
  • Those ending in ‘X’ indicate mutual funds.
  • There are also certain symbols that denote specific status or type of security say, tickers ending in ‘Q’ indicate issuers which are under bankruptcy. The letter ‘Y’ denotes security is an ADR.


Some of the reasons indicating the criticality of tickers are:

  • It is the key to facilitating the vast volumes of trade occurring in the world. The targeted parties can be easily identified.
  • The symbols with their additional-letter codes also communicate essential information to the investors about the trading status of a security to the issuer.
  • Their absence can cause confusion amongst the issuers, securities, and securities from the same issuer.

A ‘tick’ is any change in the price irrespective of the direction. The stock ticker will automatically display the required tick with other essential information such as volume and other information needed by investors on the current market conditions.

A restricted number of stocks appear on stock ticker during any period, primarily due to many stocks getting the trade at a point of time. Mostly, the stock ticker with the most significant change in price in comparison to the previous day’s trading session or those with the highest volume appears on the stock ticker.


The below snapshot is a ticker symbol example of how a ticker looks like and the immediate indication it offers:

Ticker Symbol

The position of the stock ticker keeps on scrolling on the ticker screen throughout the day and where does it stand at that point in time. As the stock market is very dynamic, the condition of the stock can keep on changing. It may be positive at one point in time and, after an hour, can fall into the red region. Additionally, if there is some news that impacts an entire sector or the overall stock market, one can witness all the impacted stocks in the same direction.

How to Find a Ticker Symbol (Ticker Lookup)

You can visit the following links to find the Ticker Symbols (ticker lookup) of the respective exchanges.

Unique Aspects of Ticker Symbol

In the US, the stock ticker symbols aim to be as descriptive as possible despite being short. The single-letter symbol is the most prized one. Let us understand some of them:

Ticker Symbol

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For eg:
Source: Ticker Symbol (wallstreetmojo.com)

  • First Letter: It is the most common ticker symbol matching the initial letter of a company’s name. E.g., ‘F’ as the stock symbol of Ford Motor and the letter ‘C’ used by Citigroup.
  • Company Name: This is also a relatively common symbol for identification, especially the established ones. E.g., AAPL is the ticker symbol for Apple and MSFT for Microsoft.
  • Product Name: Some firms also reference the products they sell in their ticker symbol, making them easier to recollect. E.g., The Cheesecake Factory uses CAKE. On similar lines, Harley-Davidson uses the symbol of HOG (a common but informal term for their motorcycles) for easier identification in the market.
  • Customer Experiences: Such symbols are mostly used in the service industry since they sell to the consumers. Say Yum! Brands, the parent companyParent CompanyA holding company is a company that owns the majority voting shares of another company (subsidiary company). This company also generally controls the management of that company, as well as directs the subsidiary's directions and policies.read more of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, uses the symbol of YUM in the form of “Yum! That food was delicious.”
  • Sounds: This is a creative way for distinguishing the existence of the product in the market, such as National Beverage Corporation (maker of carbonated drinks) uses FIZZ to create the essence of the product.
  • Numbers: This requires immaculate precision and may not be easily understood by those viewing them not familiar. It is used mainly in Japan. For instance, the ticker symbol for Sony Corporate is 6758, and Toyota Motor Corporation is 7203 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. There is a specific method whereby in Japan, the numbers from 6000 are used for machinery and electronic companies. Subsequently, numbers from 7000 are used for transportation and car companies.

The first digit indicates the general industry, and the random numbers in Japanese ticker numbers do not have specific descriptions making them harder to memorize.

  • One should also keep in mind the spelling of the tickers as there can be a thin line of demarcation between 2 stocks having close to identical tickers. E.g., in 2013, due to all the hype around the IPO of Twitter, a large number of investors mistakenly invested in Tweeter Home Entertainment, which turned out to be a bankrupt electronics firm. The ticker of Twitter was TWTR, whereas that of the latter was TWTRQ causing the confusion. As mentioned in the initial part of the article, tickers ending with ‘Q’ indicate bankruptcy.
  • If a ticker symbol is marked with letters E on NASDAQ or an LF on the NYSE, it is an indication the associated company has fallen behind on its reporting obligation to the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission). These letters are added at the end of the normal symbol. The impacted companies are also set a grace period within which the reporting requirements should be satisfied. Once the requirement is met, these letters are subsequently removed. If the grace period has passed away and the requirements are not met, the security is under threat of getting removed from trading.

This article has been a guide to what is Ticker Symbol? Here we discuss its importance, examples, how to find ticker symbols of NYSE and NASDAQ, and their unique aspects. You may also learn more about corporate finance from the following recommended articles –

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