Pink Sheet

Refers to over-the-counter (OTC) stocks.


Author: Patrick Curtis
Patrick Curtis
Patrick Curtis
Private Equity | Investment Banking

Prior to becoming our CEO & Founder at Wall Street Oasis, Patrick spent three years as a Private Equity Associate for Tailwind Capital in New York and two years as an Investment Banking Analyst at Rothschild.

Patrick has an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School and a BA in Economics from Williams College.

Reviewed By: Adin Lykken
Adin Lykken
Adin Lykken
Consulting | Private Equity

Currently, Adin is an associate at Berkshire Partners, an $16B middle-market private equity fund. Prior to joining Berkshire Partners, Adin worked for just over three years at The Boston Consulting Group as an associate and consultant and previously interned for the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. Senate.

Adin graduated from Yale University, Magna Cum Claude, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics.

Last Updated:October 22, 2023

What Is a Pink Sheet?

The paper color used to print share price quotes, known as "pink sheets," inspired the name of this. Even though trading is now done electronically, the term "Pink," which refers to over-the-counter (OTC) stocks, still exists.

To eliminate the expenses and regulatory standards for listing on a major exchange, businesses may choose to offer their stocks through the over-the-counter network.

Stocks that trade OTC instead of a significant U.S. stock exchange are listed on pink sheets. Investments in businesses that can't fulfill the criteria to list on a significant U.S. stock exchange like the NY Stock Exchange are frequently listed on the pink sheet (NYSE).

Many people consider trading in pink sheet securities wildly speculative because most of the offerings are close to the bottom penny stocks, which transact for less than $5 per share. Trading for securities of unlisted companies is referred to as OTC. 

Unlike a centralized stock exchange, a broker-dealer channel is used to transact the share capital. 

OTC Markets Group is an organization that divides stocks into three markets depending on the quality and volume of knowledge businesses reveal and processes trading activities using OTC Link technology.

Stocks that trade at very low prices, such as penny stocks, are often pink sheet stocks. Stocks valued at less than $5 are penny stocks.

Some famous examples of such stocks are:

  • Tencent Holdings LTD (TCEHY)
  • Nestle (OTC: NSRGY) 
  • Nissan Motor Company (OTC: NSANY)
  • BHP Group Limited (BHPLF)
  • Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC)

Although some businesses may register their penny stocks for trading on an exchange like the NYSE, they are typically transacted via the OTC via these listings or on OTCBB. 

These stocks are used in over-the-counter trading by businesses that are often anxious to limit the exposure of their financial and accounting records. 

Pink Sheet & Primary Platforms

OTCBB and pink sheets are the two key listing platforms for OTC securities. It is important to note that pink sheets are OTC but not OTCBB. 

A digital platform called Over-the-Counter Bulletin Boards (OTCBBs) shows OTC securities alongside quantity and quotation data that is legitimate.

Shares listed on the OTCBB have the suffix "OB" and are required to file financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The OTCBB is run by NASDAQ and is a quotation provider for OTC sales.

Additionally, stocks are split between the OTCQX and OTCQB platforms. The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), which owns and regulates the OTCBB business, supplies the gear needed to run the operations of the OTCBB and OTC trade daily.

Small businesses must file Form 211, which provides some financial information, to list a Pink sheet stock in this particular listing.

Nevertheless, such companies are not obligated to provide financial data or reveal their financial status publicly to brokers and dealers who may decide to trade their assets.

Workings of Pink Sheet Stocks

The method of trading securities of unlisted firms is known as over-the-counter trading. Pink sheet or penny stock OTC systems are a decentralized electronic network of traders and brokers.

These platforms are not subject to the exact reporting requirements as other large exchanges and are known to run multiple segments of trading markets. The first layer is the OTCBB, which NASDAQ runs.

OTCBB is an electronic system display that exhibits OTC securities with real-time quotes and trading volume. OTCBB equities are denoted by an OB suffix and are obliged to issue financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The second platform is the pink sheets one. Shares are also traded on the OTCQX and OTCQB marketplaces.

A qualitative evaluation is conducted, as required by OTCQX. Still, OTCQB involves the value of a minimum of one penny stock while certifying that the firm's data is comprehensive and up-to-date through a yearly certification.

A broker facilitates the purchase and sale of such stock by identifying potential traders and purchasers. Due to the scarcity of details, a thorough examination of the stock may be lengthy. 

Brokers charge ridiculous bid-ask margins or price quotations between the sales and purchase due to irregular trading, which affects liquidity, and the difficulties experienced in selling at an exact price. 

Investors may lose a significant portion or all of their money due to their highly speculative character.

OTC trades often incur costs, although many dealers have switched to a commission-free trading system for trading stocks on prominent exchanges. 

Investors often need the capability to enter either buy or sell trades for pink sheet stocks, implying that there are no circumstances in which the investor's offer is aligned with the prevailing listed price or vice versa.

Alternatively, they might be required to approve a limit order in which the desired price is explicitly inputted.

Pros and Cons of the Pink Sheets

Such stocks allow small businesses to raise financing by selling their shares to the general public. Trading comes at a cheap cost for small businesses.

Therefore, it is considerably easier for a buyer to convert into a shareholder while earning considerable profits from their investment if the company prospers.

Investors might profit from the rising value of related business shares, which may one day float on a massive market. These transactions often have reduced trading costs since they do not have the expensive listing fees of big exchanges, which further adds significantly to their pricing.

Because there are no legal requirements for mandatory financial disclosure, such stocks are significantly at risk of price manipulation and fraud. As a result, pink sheet entries may be shell corporations.

Companies' insufficient information can also hinder the ability of investors to do sufficient proper checks before engaging, making these investments riskier. Because they are uncommon and illiquid, locating buyers or sellers in the market might be challenging. 

Certain pink sheet stocks have also been identified as phony shell businesses and, in some cases, are on the brink of failure.

Pros Cons
Access to capital investment is made possible for small businesses via these sheet listings. Insufficient constraints and standards may result in obsolete or erroneous information being given to investors.
Low share prices allow for quick rewards if the company does well. Low share prices allow for quick rewards if the company does well. The equities trade loosely, making it difficult for investors to purchase and dispose of unhindered.
Due to the absence of high exchange listing fees, transactional costs have been reduced. The listing is vulnerable to deception.

Researched and authored by Drishti Kohli | LinkedIn

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