A:

The over-the-counter market is not an actual exchange like the NYSE or Nasdaq. Instead, it is a network of companies that serve as "market makers" in particular low-priced and thinly-traded stocks. Thus, the OTC is a quote system between these companies that buy and sell stocks "over-the-counter" (OTC) and not "on the exchange."

A number of conditions must be met for a company to move from being traded over-the-counter to being listed on the NYSE or Nasdaq. First, the stock must meet listing requirements for its price per share, total value, daily or monthly volume, revenues, and SEC reporting requirements. Second, the company must file an application and be approved for listing with one of the organized exchanges.

While a lot of fanfare may occur when a stock is newly listed on an exchange, especially the NYSE, a new initial public offering (IPO) is not carried out. Instead, the stock goes from being traded through the OTC market to being traded on the exchange.

However, the stock symbol may change. A stock that moves from the OTC to Nasdaq often keeps its symbol. Contrarily, a stock that moves to the NYSE often must change its symbol due to NYSE regulations that limit stock symbols to three letters. The OTC and Nasdaq both allow up to five letters.

(For more on this topic, read The Tale of Two Exchanges: NYSE and Nasdaq and Getting to Know the Stock Exchanges.)

This question was answered by Ken Clark.

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