A column on personal finance prepared by the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants


(October 22, 2003) - Want to know how the mutual funds in your investment portfolio are faring? Thinking about purchasing some stock for your child’s college fund? Consult any major daily newspaper and you’ll find a wealth of information on the stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that are traded on American stock exchanges. Although the listings may look confusing at first, this primer from the Virginia Society of CPAs will help you understand what all those numbers mean.

Following Stock Prices

Stocks are equity investments. If you buy stocks in a corporation, you have an ownership share in that corporation. Publicly traded stocks are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the American Stock Exchange (ASE), or the NASDAQ Exchange. In the financial pages, stocks are listed alphabetically by company name, which usually appears in an abbreviated form, along with the stock’s trading symbol. Here’s a column-by-column look at what follows the company name:

Tracking Bond Performance

Bonds are loans that investors make to corporations and governments. In return, the bondholder earns interest. Corporate bond trading is reported daily in the newspapers. Corporate bonds are taxable for federal and state purposes, although city bonds are generally tax-free. Here is what you can learn about corporate bonds from your newspaper.

Monitoring Mutual Fund Performance

Mutual fund pools money together from thousands of investors and then its manager buys stocks, bonds, or other securities with it. In the mutual funds section of the newspaper, the company’s name appears first, followed by an alphabetical listing of its different funds. Mutual fund listings typically have four columns, but occasionally will include additional columns that report long-term return information:

In Summary

Stock, bond and mutual fund tables provide useful information to help you compare and contrast the performance of various investment vehicles. Additional sources of information include corporate annual reports, prospectuses, and online resources such as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investor Education and Assistance site ( However, before making any purchase check with your CPA regarding how a particular investment purchase would impact your financial plan.

The Virginia Society of CPAs is the leading professional association dedicated to enhancing the success of all CPAs and their profession by communicating information and vision, promoting professionalism, and advocating members’ interests. Founded in 1909, the Society has nearly 8,000 members who work in public accounting, industry, government and education. This Money Management column and other financial news articles can be found in the Press Room on the VSCPA Web site at

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