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The Data Debate, by Michael Munkasey

This all began from email correspondence between Kaye Shinker and Michael Munkasey and Kaye's question...

Kaye's question
I've bought and sold YELL:NASDAQ several times using the data from your Company data CD that I bought about five years ago. I know I've purchased at least one update since I entered the chart on my computer, and now the comments column for this company has me all confused.

They traded as YELL on the NASDAQ until January, 2006; but now they are trading with the ticker symbol YRCW.

According to an article quoting a Wall Street Journal article dated January 3, 2006, "...Yellow Roadway will change its name to YRC Worldwide Inc. to avoid negative connotations, reflect the expansion; and will also change its stock symbol on the NASDAQ Stock Market to YRCW tomorrow."

So I'm assuming January 4, 2006 would be the IPO date but I have Feb. 18, 1971 in my IPO list, and Dec. 15, 2003 shows in your company data comments section as another change. Weird though, that Yahoo historical price data goes back to July 9 1986. And what's weirder is that there isn't data going back earlier.

My question is about the comments column you provide giving additional information. Do you give this just for information's sake or should we research that date also?

Michael's Answer

1 October 2007
by Michael Munkasey

There is debate among users as to whether to use the most current first trade or incorporation data, which is shown in the columns, or to use an earlier set of data which is shown in the comments section. Some people are strong on one side of the argument, but then people are just as strong on the other side of this too. That is why I provide all sets of data. My personal opinion is that it is the most recent set of data which is the important set.

It is important to realize that companies are NOT people. Company charts are NOT people charts. Companies live and die by the stroke of a pen on official documents, although the company "persona" can exist through time, the company is an official entity created by a legal jurisdiction, like a state (e.g., DE, MA, NY); or a country.

For instance, Microsoft started out as unincorporated, in AZ about 1978, but have had three different incorporations since then. Their latest incorporation in the early 1990s, does seem to give a chart which mirrors the direction the company has been going in since then. When I saw that chart for the first time, I said "Government Interference" -- and then shortly all of the lawsuits against them started. Interestingly enough I ran across a bunch of the Microsoft lawyers at a gathering, and started to talk with them, but they were so arrogant, so with it, all of them, that I said "to hell with them" and kept my comments to myself -- but I could have helped them pick a much better incorporation chart. Their 1980s incorporation chart was a great chart, showing growth and expansion, and they grew rapidly with that chart. Their re-incorporation in the 1990s showed no such growth, and also a lot of outside interference. Since then they are getting what they spawned.

Both the incorporation as well as the First Trade charts are important to study if you want a good understanding of the entity. (I write "entity" because that is a broader term and includes ETFs, Indices, Mutual Funds, Companies, etc.) As to whether to use the most current set of data, the data in my data base shown in the columns, or the data in the comments section I provide, that is another question. There is no current correct answer to the question as to whether to use the most recent set of data for the current trading symbol; or to use the data for an older trading symbol. Some people prefer one side of the set of data, and others the other side of the data. The best I can do is to provide both sets.

Also, remember that a company's reputation, its persona if you will, persists through time, even though their legal status can change. IBM started around 1910 making industrial scales to weigh trucks and heavy loads. Along the way they changed their name, again and again, and eventually became who and what they are today. I write this because it is not the persona of the company which we seek with the data, but the current legal status of the company. The legal status of a company is not the same as the date of their founding in some instances. In other instances these remain the same. It is also interesting to note that in the 1940s when computers were just being introduced, it was decided by "experts" that "perhaps" six could be sold. Yet, even with this "forecast" IBM decided to take a chance with this new technology and proceed with its development. Then marketing took over.

Remember, a company is NOT authorized to do business legally until the jurisdiction in which they are incorporated says that they can do that -- and that happens when the jurisdiction approves their incorporation status -- which is the most recent incorporation information I provide in the columns. One minute before approval they do not exist, and at the time of approval they do exist and can proceed with their business. This is an either/or thing.

Companies can incorporate in more than one jurisdiction, but to do so would double their paperwork and tax liabilities. Thus, almost none do that.

When you place a trade you trade the most current ticker symbol. Not an older or a prior ticker symbol. Yet some people insist on using data for the old symbol, and that is why I provide both sets -- so people can pick and choose.

The information I have in the data base for YRC Worldwide seems to be correct. They changed their ticker symbol from YELL to YRCW effective 01-04-2006, and that is what my data base shows.

I can not help what Yahoo! or other Internet data sources show. Who says that they are correct? Who maintains their data? Often they will go back to the original date they started listing prices, which may or may not be the date that the current ticker symbol started. The date which Yahoo! shows could be the date they listed on the OTC, before they went to the NASDAQ and before the company, say, went to the NYSE. Even then, I find dates from sources like Yahoo! only to be about 75 to 80% accurate.

Along the way you have to trust one or another data source. The data from the NASD or the NYSE librarians are only about 75 or 80% accurate too. It takes LOT of time and research to track down the correct dates, and that is what I try to do. I probably have mistakes in my data base, but I also constantly check and double check to see that what I send out is correct. I don't see Yahoo! checking or double checking their data.

In another clarification, the term "IPO" and "First Trade" are often used to mean the same thing, but they really are different. The IPO ("Initial Placement Offering" is one interpretation of that acronym) refers to a projected date when the people planning on bringing an entity to an exchange listing foresee the date of First Trade. The IPO date may or may not, however, be the date that the ticker symbol actually trades for the first time. In the "First Trade" column of my data set, I show the date, and time when I can get it, for when the ticker symbol shown first trades. In about half of the instances this is the same as the projected IPO date, but quite often it varies by one or more days. I have seen these dates vary by as much as several weeks -- usually when some of the official paperwork needs revision, and resubmission to the governing agencies.

Hope this helps.

Michael Munkasey

Thanks Michael for answering my question and clearing up my confusion with data usage in general. I know all of the Financial Astrologers thank you for your work and I for one consistently profit from it as well.



The cost for the data base is US $360.00; postage paid in the US. Foreign postage extra. Updates for registered users are $140. each update. Michael Munkasey California, USA

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