WHAT IS 'Hard-Coded Stock'

Hard-coded stock refers to a company's stock symbol or ticker symbol.

BREAKING DOWN 'Hard-Coded Stock'

Hard-coded stock is synonymous with a stock symbol or ticker symbol. A hard-coded stock is the arrangement of characters, generally letters, that represent the security when it is publicly traded. In other words, a hard-coded stock is a shorthand way to refer to a company’s stock. Investors need to have a ticker symbol to place trade orders so that they can buy and sell a specific security. Having a discrete ticker symbol facilitates much of market trading. Every security listed anywhere on the globe has a unique symbol for the security. Knowing the symbol allows investors to check the price of the security.

In the U.S., on the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange, stocks can have symbols with one, two or three letters in the symbol. Nasdaq-listed stocks have stock symbols with four or five letters. Though the ticker symbols are most commonly an abbreviation of a company’s name, this is not compulsory, and sometimes availability of ticker symbols prevents a company from having a ticker symbol close to its name. It is more important that the ticker symbol provide a unique identifier in order for traders to buy and sell the security.

Additional Symbols That Appear Alongside Hard-Coded Stock

On a stock exchange there may be additional symbols that convey information about a company’s trading status. On the New York Stock Exchange, the primary stock exchange in the United States, sometimes there will be a dot followed by a letter that conveys specific information about that stock. On the Nasdaq Stock Market a fifth letter is added to the stock symbol. If a “W” is added to a stock symbol, it would appear with the normal stock symbol, 4 letters and then the “W.” For example, let's say the first four letters for company A is AAAA. If it appears as AAAAW, that “W” indicates that the shares have warrants attached to them. Or if it has appeared as AAAAQ, the “Q” indicates that the company is in bankruptcy proceedings. Not all indicators are related to the company’s fiscal solvency; for example, if Company A was listed as AWAY in the U.S., it means it is a non-U.S. company.

However, when a ticker symbol is marked with an “LF” on the New York Stock Exchange or an “E” on the NASDAQ Stock Market, the marked company is behind on reporting information to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Once the company reports the required information to the SEC, the exchanges remove the extra letters.  

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