A letter that appears on a Nasdaq stock symbol specifying that a particular stock is an American Depositary Receipt. An American Depositary Receipt (ADR) is a negotiable certificate that represents one or more shares of foreign stock or a fraction of a share. ADRs are traded on a U.S. exchange, and are issued by a U.S. depositary bank. ADRs were introduced in response to the difficulties involved with buying shares in foreign corporations, including the challenges of trading at different prices and currency values. US banks and brokerages can purchase bulk lots of shares from the foreign corporation, bundle the shares into groups, and reissue them as ADRs on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange, or the Nasdaq.
Nasdaq listed securities have four or five characters. When a fifth character appears, it identifies the issue as being one that is other than a single issue of common stock or capital stock. The Y identifies the stock as an American Depositary Receipt. These issues have distinct advantages in that they are a convenient and cost-effective method of buying shares in a foreign corporation. When an investor buys or sells ADRS, he or she if trading in the U.S. market, and the trade will clear in U.S. dollars. Investors can invest internationally in a variety of ways including ADRs, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, U.S.-traded foreign stocks, or direct investments in foreign markets.