The January 2023 issue of the Investor Advisory Service (IAS) newsletter included a recommendation for a company with a single letter ticker symbol. That reminded me of some market trivia about one of Wall Street's most exclusive clubs -- companies with a single letter ticker symbol.
There is an obvious limited supply of one-character symbols -- only 26 are available! Of those 26, 21 are currently taken. Most are familiar names to investors. Citigroup is "C"; Ford Motor Company has "F"; AT&T goes by "T"; and IAS-covered stock Visa Inc. uses "V". Some perhaps less well-known companies are also in the club -- Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi SpA is listed as "E" and Realty Income Corp. trades as "O".
Traditionally, tickers of companies listed on the NYSE were one, two, or three letters long, while NASDAQ-listed stocks were four or five characters. Today, that distinction is no longer in use, after Zillow was able to acquire the symbol "Z" when it went public in 2011.
For many years, two of the available single-letter symbols were reserved by the NYSE in the hopes of attracting two special defectors from NASDAQ. It probably isn't too hard to figure out which large technology companies the NYSE wished would occupy the "I" and "M" ticker symbol slots. However, NYSE gave up hopes of bringing Microsoft to its exchange and granted the "M" symbol to Federated Retail Holdings after the company changed its name to Macy's, Inc. in 2007. "I" is currently not in use.
Besdes "I", four other single-letter symbols are currently not in use. "N" is inactive thought it has been used by Inco and NetSuite; "P" was used by Pandora and Phillips Petroleum Company; and "Q" was used by Quintiles and Qwest.
Visa remains the only company tracked in our Investor Advisory Service or SmallCap Informer newsletters with a single-letter ticker symbol ("V"), so it might be safe to assume that this bunch of companies overall doesn't merit much consideration from investors interested in quality growth stocks. Still, it's an interesting bit of stock market trivia with which you might be able to impress your investment club members and friends!