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S&P 500

What is the S&P 500?

The S&P 500 is the market index including 500 largest publicly traded American companies. S&P stands for Standards and Poors. The index uses market capitalisation as the weights of the various companies, however, there are certain other criteria included in the index setting it apart from other indexes.

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The S&P 500 is regarded as one of the best indicators of trends in large cap US equities. The index reports the risks and returns associated with these 500 companies, which include some of the biggest players in the market.

The index is used as a benchmark of overall market performance. The companies included in the index range over various sectors and provide a good representation of the overall market trend.

How is the index calculated?

The index can be calculated by taking the price of each individual share times the number of shares that can be traded in the open market, which is known as float. The float-adjusted market cap is thus derived from this step.

The next step is taking the average of all these float-adjusted market caps. This can be done simply by adding the value of all the market caps derived for each company and dividing them by the S&P 500’s divisor. This divisor accounts for all changes in the different stocks listed in the index. These include stock splits as well as entry and exit of companies in the index.

Additionally, the total market cap held by all 500 companies listed in the ASX 500 index amounts to trillions of dollars. Thus, the divisor must also reduce this figure down to a more comprehensive and easy-to-work with figure.

What are the criteria that companies must fulfil before they can be a part of S&P 500 index?

The companies must fulfil the following criteria for them to be included in the index:

  • Market Capitalization: First and foremost, companies must have a market capitalization of at least USD 8.2 billion. Market capitalization refers to the total value of the company’s outstanding shares.
  • Geography: The companies must be based out of the United States. At least 50% of the company’s fixed assets as well as revenues should lie within the US.
  • Listed on US exchanges: The stock cannot be listed on pink sheets or traded over the counter (OTC). Only stocks listed publicly on New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, Investors Exchange, or BATS Global Markets are permissible to be a part of the index.

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  • Earnings: The total earnings for the previous 4 quarters should be positive for the company, in addition to having positive reported earnings over the most recent quarter.
  • Stock price: The stock price should be at least USD 1 per share. This means than micro cap stocks are left out of the index.

These criteria greatly reduce the number of companies that can be included in the index.

How did the Index come into picture?

The index first came into being in 1923, when it consisted of only 233 companies. The jump to 500 component firms came in 1957 when more companies were added to provide diversity to the index. At the time 425 companies belonged to the industrial sector alone, while 25 companies belonged to the railroads sector and 50 to utility sector.

However, with time, the sectoral composition of the index has seen various changes along with greater diversity. The index reflects the prevailing trends in the market. The current index primarily sees a dominance of technology-based stocks. These account for more than a quarter of the total companies in the index.

Which companies are currently a part of the index?

Following are the top 10 companies included in the index based on their weightage.

  • Apple Inc. (AAPL)
  • Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)
  • com (AMZN)
  • Facebook Inc. (FB)
  • Alphabet Inc. Class A Shares (GOOGL)
  • Alphabet Inc. Class C Shares (GOOG)
  • Tesla Inc. (TSLA)
  • Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B)
  • JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM)
  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)

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One of the newest entrants into the index is Tesla which has quickly gained pace in the market. The company was added to the index on the 21st of December 2020 in place of Apartment Investment and Management Co. Despite being a newcomer, the company became the 5th largest stock in the entire index.

Why is the index important?

The index holds high importance as it consists of a broad range of stocks without many small companies. Most of these stocks are reputable and are widely owned by investors. This greatly puts the interests of investors into the index.

The top 500 companies make up for roughly 80% of the total value of stocks in the US stock market. This is one of the reasons why it is regarded as a strong benchmark for the stock market performance.

How can one invest in the index?

It is possible for investors to put their money in the index itself rather than in the companies included in the index. This is made possible by buying shares in an index that tracks the S&P 500.

Some of the more popular index funds tracking the index include: Vanguard 500 Index Investor Shares, Fidelity 500 Index, Schwab S&P 500 Index 500 Fund.

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Many investors prefer putting their money in a SPDR (Spider) fund. This is an exchange traded fund tracking the S&P 500. The ETF has low expense ratio and can be easily bought or sold in the open market.

What is accounts payable? Accounts Payable (AP) is an obligation that an individual or a company has to fulfill for purchasing goods and services bought from their suppliers and vendors. AP refers to the amount that is not paid upfront and can be paid back in a short period of time. Hence, a good or a service purchased on credit to be paid in a short period will fall under AP. For individuals, AP may include the bill paid after availing services such as television network, electricity, internet connection, or telephone. Most of the time, the bill is generated after the designated billing period, depending upon the amount of consumption. The customers have to pay this obligation within a stipulated time to avoid default. What is accounts payable from a Company’s point of View? AP is the amount of money a company is liable to pay to its suppliers or vendors and clear dues for purchases of goods and services purchased from its suppliers or vendors. AP is required to be repaid in a short period, depending on the relationship with suppliers. It is essentially a kind of short-term debt, which is necessary to honour to prevent default. As the current liabilities of the company, AP is required to be settled over the next twelve months. It is presented in the balance sheet as the account payable balance. For example, Entity A buys goods from Entity B for US$400,000.00 on Credit. Entity A has to pay back this amount within 60 days. Entity A will record US$400,000.00 as AP while Entity B will record the same amount as Account receivable. AP is also a part of the cash flow statement. The change in the total AP over a period is shown in the cash flow statement, hence it is part of the company’s working capital. It is widely used in analysing the cash flow of the business and cash flow trends over a period. AP may also depict the bargaining power of the company with its vendor and suppliers. A vendor or supplier may give the customer a longer credit period to settle the cash compared to other customers. The customer here is the company, which will incur AP after buying goods on credit from the vendor. There could be many reasons why the vendor is providing a more extended credit period to the firm such as long-term relationship, bargaining power of the firm, strategic needs of the vendor, the scale of goods or services. By maintaining a more extended repayment period to supplier and shorter cash realisation period from the customer, the company would be able to improve the working capital cycle and need funds to support the business-as-usual. However, prudent working capital management calls for not overtly stretching the payable days as it might lead to dissatisfaction of supplier. Also, investors tend to closely watch the payable days cycle to determine the financial health of the business. When the financial conditions of a firm deteriorate, the management tends to delay the payment to their suppliers. Why accounts payable is an important part of Balance sheet and Cash Flow Statement? As inferred from the previous paragraphs, AP is part of the current liabilities of the balance sheet. This is an obligatory debt that has to be paid back within a time frame so that the company does not default. AP primarily consists of payments to be made to suppliers. If AP keeps on increasing over a period of time, it can be said that the company is purchasing goods or services on credit more, instead of paying up front. If AP decreases, it means the company is reducing its previous debts more than it is buying goods on credit. Managing AP is essential to have a stable cash flow. In a cash flow statement prepared through an indirect method, the net difference in AP is shown under cash flow from operating activities. The business entity can use AP to create the desired variation in the cash flow to some extent. For example, to increase cash reserves, management can increase the duration of paying back the credit taken for a certain period, thus affecting the net difference in AP. What Is the Role of Accounts Payable Department? Every company has an accounts payable department and the size and structure depend upon how big or small the enterprise is. The AP department is formed based on the estimated number of suppliers, vendors, and service providers the company is expected to interact with; the amount of payment volume that would be processed in a given period of time; and the nature of reports that a management will require. For example, a tiny firm with a low volume of purchase transactions may require a simple or a basic accounts payable process.  However, a medium or a large enterprise may have a accounts payable department that may require a set of practices to be followed before paying back the credit. What is the Accounts Payable Process? Guidelines or a process is important as it provides transparency and smoothness in facilitating the volume of transactions in any time period.  The process involves: Bill receipt: when goods were bought, a bill records the quantity of goods received and the amount that needs to be paid to the vendors. Assessing the bill details: to ensure that the bill or invoice copy includes the name of the vendor, authorization, date of the purchase made and to verify the requirements regarding the purchase order. Updating book of records after the bill is collected: Ledger accounts need to be revised on the basis of bills received. The department makes an expense entry after taking approval from management. Timely payment processing: the department takes care of all payments that need to be processed on or before their due date as mentioned on a bill. The department prepares and verifies all the required documents. All details entered on the cheque along with bank account details of the vendor, payment vouchers, the purchase order, and the original bill and purchase order are scrutinized. The department also takes care of the safety of the company’s cash and assets and prevents: reimbursing a fake invoice reimbursing an incorrect invoice making double payment of the same vendor invoice Apart from making supplier payments, AP departments also takes care of travel expenses, making internal payments, maintaining records of vendor payments, and reducing costs Business Travel Expenses: Bigger entities or firms whose business nature requires all personnel to travel, have their AP department manage their travel costs. The AP department manages the personnel’s travel by making advance payments to travel companies including airlines and car rentals and making hotel reservations. An account payable department may also deals with requests and fund distribution to cover travel costs. After business travel, AP may also be responsible for settling funds supplied versus actual funds spent. Internal Payments: The Accounts Payable department takes care of internal reimbursement payments distribution, controlling and petty cash controlling and administering, and controlling sales tax exemption certificates distribution. Internal reimbursement payments include receipts or both substantiate reimbursement requests. Petty cash controlling and administering includes petty expenses such as out-of-pocket office supplies or miscellaneous postage, company meeting lunch. Sales tax exemption certificates comprise AP department handling sales tax exemption certificates supply to managers to make sure qualifying business purchases excludes sales tax expense. Maintaining Records of Vendor Payments: Accounts Payable maintains information of vendor contact, terms of payment and information of Internal Revenue Service W-9 either manually or on a computer database. The AP department lets management know through reports on how much the business owes at present. Other Functions: The accounts payable department is also responsible to lessen costs by identifying cost structures and creating strategies to reduce the spending of business money. For example, minimising cost by making payment of the invoice within a discount period. The AP department also acts as a direct point of contact between an entity and the vendor. How to Calculate Accounts Payable in Financial Modelling Financial modelling enables calculating the average number of days a company takes to make bill payments. AP days can be calculated using the following formula: AP value can be calculated using the following formula: What is accounts payable turnover ratio? AP turnover ratio shows the capability of a firm to pay cash to its customer after credit purchases. It is counted as an essential ratio to analyse the cash management attribute of the firm and its relationship with vendors or suppliers. It is calculated by dividing purchases by average AP. Purchases by the company are calculated as the sum of the cost of sales and net inventory in a given period: Now let’s understand this with the help of an example. Let us suppose, Cost of sales of Company XYZ for the period was $60,000, and XYZ began with inventories worth $21000 and ended at $15000. AP at the beginning was $20000, and $15000 at the end. Now the purchases will be $66000 (60000+21000-15000). The average AP will be $17500. Therefore, the AP turnover ratio will be 3.77x. Dividing the number of weeks in a year by the AP turnover ratio will give the number of weeks the company takes on average to settle its payables. In this case, it will be around 13.8 weeks (52/3.77). What is the difference between Accounts Payable vs. Trade Payables? Though the phrases "accounts payable" and "trade payables" are used interchangeably, the phrases have slight differences. Trade payables is the cash that a company is obligated to pay to its vendors for goods and supplies which are part of the inventory. Accounts payable include all of the short-term debts or obligations of a company.

A high beta index is a bag of stocks exhibiting bigger precariousness than a broad market index like the S&P 500.

What is a Market Index? A market index could be defined as a representation of a security market, market segment, or asset class of freely tradable market instruments. A market index is primarily made up of constituent marketable securities and is re-calculated on a daily basis. There are basically two forms or variations of the same market index, i.e., one version based upon the price return known as a price return index, and one version based upon total return know as a total return index. Why Do We Need A market Index? Ideally, a large number of market participants including investors and institutional funds gather and analyse vast amounts of information about security markets; however, doing so could be a very troublesome and tiring task as the work is both time consuming and data-intensive. Thus, a large number of market participants prefer to use a single measure that could represent and consolidate a plethora of information while reflecting the performance of an entire security market of interest. This is where market indexes play a major role as they are often a simple measure to reflect the performance of any underlying market of interest. For example, S&P500, NASDAQ, are believed to reflect the true performance and picture of the U.S. stock market in particular and U.S. economy in general. Likewise, many indexes such as S&P/ASX 200 is believed to reflect the performance of the Australian stock market and so on. Index Construction Constructing a market index is almost similar to constructing a portfolio of securities as the construction of an index requires: Target Market and Security Selection The first and the primary decision in constructing an index is to identify the target market and select financial instruments which reflect the true nature of the underlying market. The target market, which determines the investment universe and securities available for inclusion, could be based on any asset class, i.e., equities, fixed income, commodities, real estates or on any geographic region. Once the target market is identified, the next step is to select securities which represent the true nature of the target market and decide on the number of securities to be included in the index. Ideally, a market index could be of all securities in the target market or a representative sample of the target market. For example, some indexes such as FTSE 100, S&P 500, S&P/ASX 200, fix the number of stocks to be included in the index while indexes like Tokyo Stock Price Index (or TOPIX) select and represents all of the largest stocks, known as the First Selection. For such indexes, the included securities must meet some basic parameters like pre-decided market capitalisation, the number of shares outstanding, to remain in the index. Weight Allocation The weight allocation varies considerably among indexes depending upon the method of weight allocation, and it basically decides on how much weight each security in an index carry. The method of weight allocation is one of the most important parts that investors need to understand thoroughly as it has a substantial impact on the value of an index. Some of the most widely-used weight allocation methods are as below: Price Weighting This method was originally used by Charles Dow to construct the Dow Jones Industrial Average (or DJIA) and is one of the simplest methods. The price weight method determines the weight of each individual security of an index by dividing the price of the security by the sum of prices of all securities. In simple terms, each security gets the weight of its price in proportional to the total price of the index. The primary advantage of this method is its simplicity; however, the method leads to arbitrary weights for each security as the method is highly sensitive to some market actions such as stock split. Equal Weighting As the name suggests, this method assigns equal weight to all securities in an index. Just like equal weighting, the major advantage of this method is its simplicity; however, this method tends to underrepresent the value of large securities and overrepresent the value of smaller securities. Market-Capitalisation Weighting Market-Capitalisation method weight each constituent by dividing its market capitalisation with the total market capitalisation of the index, i.e., the sum of the market capitalisation of each constituent. The market capitalisation could be determined by multiplying the number of outstanding shares of the security with its market price per share. Rebalancing and Reconstitution Rebalancing of a market index could be defined as the adjustment to the weights of the constituent securities. Depending upon the method of weighting an index, the weight of each individual security tends to change due to market actions or price appreciation and deprecation, in similar fashion to a stock portfolio requires scheduled rebalancing. A majority of market indexes are rebalanced on a daily basis as price tends to often change regularly. On the other hand, reconstitution could be ideally defined as the process to change the constituent of a market index. As suggested above, many market indexes such as TOPIX require each constituent security to meet some parameters for the inclusion; however, due to market dynamics, various securities tend to get added or removed from an index time to time. Uses of Market Index Originally, market indexes were created to provide a sense to investors on how a security market performed on a given day. However, with the development of the modern finance theory and growing numbers of indexes in the market, uses of market indexes have been expanded significantly. Some of the major uses of market indexes are as below: To Gauge the market sentiment A market index is usually a collection of the opinion of market participants; thus, they reflect the attitude and behaviour of the market participants, making them one of most widely used tool to gauge the market sentiment. To measure and model the risk and return profile of a market Market indexes could serve as a proxy for systematic risk in many popular models such as the Capital Asset Pricing Model (or CAPM). The market portfolio, which represents the systematic risk of the market often uses a market index, as a proxy of the market portfolio as including the whole population or all stocks in the model could lead to wrong output, and it could be very costly and cost consuming. Serves as a Performance Benchmark Market indexes often serve as a performance benchmark for individual investors and especially large investors such as mutual funds, ETFs, pension funds, and large banks.

  What is Nasdaq?  Nasdaq Stock Market is a global electronic marketplace for buying and selling securities on an automatic, transparent and speedy electronic network. It trades through a computer system rather than in a physical trading floor for the traders to trade directly between them. It is an American stock exchange located in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. NASDAQ is owned by the company Nasdaq. Inc. and ranked second on the list of stock exchanges as per market capitalisation of shares traded. The first rank goes to the New York Stock Exchange. Nasdaq-National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, was founded in 1971 by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) to avoid inefficient trading and delays. Nasdaq. Inc. company also owns the Nasdaq Nordic stock market network in addition to other exchanges. The exchange has more than 3,100 companies listed. They are the highest trade volume companies in the US market, valued more than US$14 trillion in total.  Good read: NASDAQ surged up above 10,000 – Tech stocks setting a new benchmark   What is Nasdaq known for?  Nasdaq currently is the largest electronic stock market, and it is most well-known for its high-tech stocks. But it also has a variety of companies listed such as capital goods, healthcare, consumer durables and nondurables, energy, public utilities, finance and transportation.  Nasdaq boasts of having some of the largest blue-chip companies in the world and attracts high growth-oriented companies. Its stocks are known to be volatile than those listed on other exchanges. Apart from listed stocks, Nasdaq also trades in over the counter (OTC) stocks. The ticker symbols for the listed companies’ stocks on the Nasdaq have four or five letters.  The Nasdaq Composite index was initially termed as Nasdaq. It included all the stocks listed on Nasdaq stock market and also many stocks listed on Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index. The index has more than 3,000 stocks listed on it which include the world’s largest technology and biotech giants like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, Gilead Sciences, Tesla and Intel.    Did you read: Blue-chip stocks: Value versus Growth in Covid-19 Era   Companies have to meet certain criteria to get listed on the NASDAQ National Market.  The entities have to meet financial, liquidity, and corporate governance-related requirements. Have to get registered with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Have to maintain the stock price of at least US$1. Company’s value of outstanding stocks must total at least US$1.1 million.   The small companies which cannot meet the criteria can get listed on NASDAQ Small Caps Market. Nasdaq changes the companies as the eligibility of the companies keeps changing.  Image: Kalkine   What are different Nasdaq indexes?  Nasdaq uses an index to list its stocks like any other stock exchange. The index delivers stock performance snapshots. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) as its primary index; it tracks the stock price of 30 big companies. Nasdaq Composite and the Nasdaq 100 are two indices of Nasdaq. Nasdaq Composite measures the performance of more than 3,100 listed companies’ stocks trading daily on Nasdaq. Nasdaq 100 is a modified capitalisation-weighted index. This index has listed companies from various sectors, but the majority is from the technology industry. Depending on their market value, Nasdaq adds or removes the companies from its index Nasdaq 100.  Both the NASDAQ Composite and the NASDAQ 100 indexes have listed companies from the United States as well as global companies. On the other hand, Dow Jones Industrial Average index does not include companies outside of the US.    Did you read: Hanging Up Your Boots? Investment Strategies to Help you Relax and Build Wealth   Brief history  Nasdaq performance in the past has been groundbreaking and extraordinary. One of its highly regarded accomplishments is that Nasdaq was the first-ever stock exchange for offering electronic trading. It was the first to launch a website and stored all the records in the cloud. Interestingly, Nasdaq also sold its technology to other stock exchanges. Nasdaq invented the modern Initial Public Offering (IPO) as it listed venture-capital-backed companies. Initially, it merged with the American Stock Exchange. It formed the Nasdaq-AMEX Market Group, later on, the AMEX index was acquired by NYSE Euronext, and the entire data was integrated into NYSE. In 2007 Nasdaq acquired OMX which is a Swedish-Finnish financial company. Followed by which Nasdaq changed its name to NASDAQ OMX Group. NASDAQ OMX Group bought the Boston Stock Exchange and also the Philadelphia Stock Exchange which was the oldest stock exchange in the US.  Also read: Nasdaq index’s Tech Titans kicks off with Bold Performances   How to trade on Nasdaq?  Though the New York Stock Exchange is the largest exchange by market capitalisation, Nasdaq is the largest by trading volume due to its electronic quote mechanism. Nasdaq is a dealer’s market where the public buys and sells stocks with the help of the market maker (a registered broker/dealer). The market maker provides the buy and sell quotes and takes the position in those stocks. NYSE works differently as the buyers and sellers can trade directly with each other, and a specialist allows the trade. On Nasdaq, the market maker owns inventory and trade stocks in his/her capacity. Good read: Why NASDAQ Composite index plunged 5%?

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