NYSE Made Easy


This lesson printed from:

Posted May 31, 2002

Standards: 7, 8

Grades: 9-12

Author: Matthew Wolfe

Posted: May 31, 2002

Updated: October 27, 2014


This lesson will help students to understand the terms that are associated with the New York Stock Exchange. It will also help students to read a stock market report found in any major newspaper or online.


Investing, Stock Market


  • Gain knowledge of the terms associated with the stock market.
  • Read and understand an internet stock display.
  • Apply their knowledge of stock terms by making decisions completing a stock project.


The stock markets have been headline news items recently, as a record-high share values have been hit hard by a cyclical downturn in business activity and by specific adverse influences including the bursting of the dot com bubble, the events of September 11, and the business accounting issues highlighted by the Enron bankruptcy case. When we read about businesses filing for bankruptcy or people having lost their retirement funds, we may think it is an appropriate time to question why anybody invests in the stock market. Historically, the stock market has been a symbol of the economic strength of the U.S. economy. The largest stock exchange in the U.S. is the New York Stock Exchange or NYSE. More than 2,500 companies list their stock on the NYSE. Generally people invest in stocks in order to provide for their retirement; however, some people try to "get rich quick" through the market. In order to invest wisely in the stock market it is essential to do background research and to follow certain investment practices. A basic starting point has to do with understanding the language of the markets.


  1. The students will need to download this Worksheet.
  2. The students will use the following definitions to fill in Part 1 of the worksheet. Roll the mouse over each term on the chart to find its definition.

  3. The students will go to the following link and research stock information to complete Part 2 of the worksheet. Then the students will return to the following websites for ten consecutive days to monitor stocks.

    MSN Money Central
    A site that provides stock information. To access information about the required stock on the worksheet, the students will have to type the symbol of the stock into the light blue box in the upper right side of the screen labeled "get quote."


Instruct the students to choose one stock using one of the following web sites that they might wish to invest in.:

Once they've chosen a stock, they must prepare a short paper/presentation explaining why they decided on that stock. The paper/presentation should include the following information:

  1. The name of the stock and some background on the company. What does it produce? How long has it been around? How many offices does the company have? Is it an International company? Where are the company's offices?
  2. Details on the stock. What is it currently trading at? What has it done over the past year?
  3. At least two recent news items. Is the company releasing any new products? Is it merging with anyone else?
  4. Explain why you would or wouldn't invest in this stock. Use specific data to back up your decision. In your explanation, use terms such as the P/E, news items, historical figures, etc.


All questions must be answered correctly to return to the lesson.


Based on all of the information you have collected, which stock would you invest in today? Why?

[This would be a good time to talk about investing for the "long haul" and diversification. Enron is a good example of what happens when all your eggs are in one basket. If students were to truly invest they would need more than ten days worth of information. However, if a student was to base his or her investment on this information, things to look for would be a low PE ratio or high yield percentage. Students might want to consider the 52 week hi/lo. If the stock price is close to the 52 week high, they might want to hold off. Students should also consider the dividend. You always want to see your company gain a profit.]

How does a dividend affect a stock's yield?

[A high dividend would indicate that a company is making a profit. When looking at yield percentage you want your closing price and dividend to be as close together as possible. In stocks and bonds, yield may be defined as the amount of money returned, in the form of dividends, to investors on their investments. Yield may also be referred to as rate of return which may be defined as the amount of money, in the form of dividends, returned to investors on their investments. Yield is calculated by dividing the dividend by the closing price of the stock. For example, If the dividend was $2.00 per share and the closing price was $3.00 per share, the yield percentage would be 66.6%. On the other hand if the dividend was $2.00 and the closing price was $20.00, the yield would be 10%.]

As an investor, do you want a stock to have a high or low PE ratio?

[It depends. The PE ratio needs to be looked at in relationship to the earnings per share. As a general rule, stocks are fairly priced if the PE ratio and earnings per share are equal. The PE is the relationship between a stock's price and it's overall earnings (dividends, stock price appreciating, etc.). "The PE Ratio is a gauge used to evaluate the price of a stock in terms of the company's bottom-line profit. Profit, of course, is reported as earnings. Earnings provide the fuel for growth. A company's stock price will rise or fall based on the stock's current earnings and, more importantly, the stock's potential for future earnings". The following article called Understanding The Price to Earnings Ratio  explains this in detail.]

Understanding the terms associated with the stock market are important to making educated decisions about investment. If students were to truly invest in the stock market, they would need to look at stock performance over a longer period of time. This would help them to get a good look at how the stock has performed over six months, a year, or five years. Once students have an understanding of the stock terms they are ready to move on to the project.