Reading the stock tables in the newspaper can be very confusing when you’re just learning about the stock market. It’s important to learn how to read stocks, though, and it won’t take a lot of time.
Let’s look closer at the table. You’ll notice that there are twelve columns in the table; each stock has a line of its own. Let’s examine the first two columns, which are usually named something like “52W High” and 52W Low.” These tell you about the stock’s performance over the last year. The names are pretty suggestive; “52W High” reveals the highest value the stock has reach in the past 52 weeks. Its lowest value shows up in the “52W Low.”
The column after that you will discover the name of the stock and then the ticker symbol for that stock. You will probably recognize some of these from the tickers that run across the bottom of the screen sometimes on the cable news networks.
Speaking of which, watching the financial shows on these networks will give you further help on how to read stocks and other aspects of the stock market.
Next to the ticker column is a column labeled “Div.” This indicates the stock’s annual dividend paid out per share. Many rows will have this column blank, which means they don’t currently pay out dividends. The same goes for the next column – “Yield %” – the percentage return on the dividend.
The earnings ratio is indicated by P/E. You get this number by dividing the current stock price by the earnings per share for the last four quarters.
After that you will discover the columns of “High” and “Low.” These are the highest and lowest points that the stock reached in the day’s trading. “Net Change” refers to how much the stock price has changed from the previous day, and “Close” lets you know what the final price was when the stock market closed for the day.
Once you’re armed with a good working knowledge of how to read stocks, you can begin to delve into other aspects of the market.