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Researching Old Stocks

Learn the best resources and strategies for researching old stocks

"I Have this Old Stock Certificate..."

Did you find stock certificates in your uncle’s old chest in the attic? Are you trying to calculate your capital gains or losses for your taxes? An old stock certificate may still have value even if it no longer trades under the name printed on the certificate.  Learn the best resources and strategies for researching old Stocks.

Stocks - Some Basic Terms

Stock - A type of security that signifies ownership in a corporation and represents a claim on part of the corporation's assets and earnings.

CUSIP - An identification number assigned to all stocks and registered bonds. Some services have a feature where you can search for stocks by CUSIP.

Exchange - A stock exchange is an exchange or stock market where stock brokers and traders can buy or sell stocks (also called shares), bonds, and other securities. 

Close / Closing price - The price of a security at the end of the day's business in a financial market.

Adjusted Close - The adjusted closing price is often used when examining historical returns or performing a detailed analysis on historical returns.

Stock Information Checklist

The more information you know about a security the easier it is to find the price.  The information most commonly used to help find a price:

  • Company Name: While this seems obvious, names change due to mergers, acquisitions, rebranding etc. The information you have may not reflect the current name of the company or name at the time you acquired your shares.
  • CUSIP: Mostly for newer stocks. Knowing this helps narrow down what stock you own and what class it is.
  • Date the stock was purchased/sold/acquired: These dates are important especially if you are trying to figure out your tax basis. Check with your tax professional to see what information you need.

Other useful information:

  • Class: Sometimes stocks have more than one class with different values. 
  • Exchange: This will help us narrow down where to look
  • Transfer Agent: Transfer agents keep records of who owns a company's stocks and bonds and how those stocks and bonds are held.  Transfer agents also issue and cancel certificates to reflect changes in ownership, act as an go-between for the company and handle lost, destroyed, or stolen certificates.

Below is a sample stock certificate. Not all stock certificates look like this one but the information can be found in similar places. From top to bottom, the boxed information is the:

  • Type of stock
  • Date
  • Transfer Agent

I Lost My Certificate