What Are Yellow Sheets?
article-1078

What Are Yellow Sheets?

4 Min.

Securities not listed on major public exchanges are featured on yellow and pink sheets, with the former focusing on corporate bonds and the latter on stocks, both traded over-the-counter (OTC). The OTC Markets Group is responsible for electronically publishing these sheets. Traders receive yellow sheets through brokerages, providing them with essential details on OTC corporate bond trades. In contrast, pink sheets function as the informational counterpart for OTC stock trades. This system ensures that securities from unlisted companies are accessible and their information readily available.

Basics

Yellow sheets, essential tools for bond traders, provide comprehensive data on corporate bonds in the OTC market, detailing each bond's yield, volume, high, low, closing, and bid-ask spread. The OTC Markets Group, once known as the National Quotation Bureau (NQB), is responsible for their publication, along with the pink sheets that offer corresponding information for over-the-counter stock trades. Since 1999, both these bulletins have been made available electronically, ensuring real-time distribution.

Grasping the Concept of Yellow Sheets

Bonds from enterprises not registered on national exchanges are the focus of yellow sheets, which offer extensive details about these securities. Often, these entities are either small-scale, emerging businesses or are in the midst of establishing their market presence, and they typically need to meet the criteria set for public exchange listings.

Securities trading on the OTC market operates through a decentralized system, lacking a central market or a singular physical trading location. Market makers, interconnected through a secure network, handle transactions of bonds listed in the yellow sheets. Subscribers, who can access the network and yellow sheets either online or in printed form, are provided with essential brokerage contact details. To initiate a trade for a specific bond, a subscriber can reach out directly to the relevant brokerage using this provided contact information.

Bonds Featured in Yellow Sheets

Fixed-income securities in the yellow sheets typically carry higher risk. This is because their issuers are not on any public U.S. stock exchange and do not need to comply with the rigorous regulatory and reporting standards that public companies listed on these exchanges must follow. Numerous reputable foreign firms opt to enter the U.S. market via over-the-counter trading, frequently using American Depositary Receipts (ADRs).

Given the inherent risks associated with entities listed on yellow sheets, it is logical that the bid-ask spread for their bonds is broader. This provides a form of compensation to investors taking on the heightened risk of potential company failure and default on bonds. Additionally, these bonds carry a significant liquidity risk, as there might be a scarce or non-existent market for them, should investors decide to sell.

The Relationship Between OTC Markets Group and Yellow Sheets

Founded in 1913, the National Quotation Bureau (NQB) provided critical information on OTC stocks and bonds to investors. Its initial publications utilized paper of varying colors, leading to the informal naming of its bulletins after these colors: stock quotes on pink sheets and bond quotes on yellow sheets. The NQB underwent significant transformations, starting with its acquisition by Commerce Clearing House in 1963, followed by a shift to predominantly electronic operations in 1999. Today, it operates under the name OTC Markets Group.

Conclusion

A comprehensive examination of yellow sheets is provided: a type of bulletin that lists corporate bonds traded OTC. Originating from the National Quotation Bureau in 1913, these bulletins have evolved from colored paper publications to electronic services, now managed by the OTC Markets Group. Yellow sheets offer crucial information on bonds issued by companies not listed on public U.S. exchanges, catering particularly to small or emerging businesses. The bonds listed are generally considered higher risk due to potential company failure, default, and liquidity issues. Over time, the transition from paper to digital has modernized the way traders access and utilize yellow sheets, enhancing the efficiency and accessibility of OTC bond trading.

Yellow Sheets
Over-The-Counter (OTC)
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