How Do Companies Get Listed on the New York Stock Exchange?

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds

Businesses that want to raise cash and increase their value can sell shares of their company to the public, who are known as shareholders. To have shares of its stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange, a business must apply to the exchange, submit various documents for review, pay a fee, meet certain criteria and agree to abide by the rules of the NYSE after they are approved. The first step to getting listed on the NYSE is to obtain a copy of the exchange’s manual for listed companies.

Application Process

Only companies that have already sold and/or distributed stock may apply for a listing on the NYSE. Depending on the NYSE’s current requirements, the applying company will need to have a specific amount of shares outstanding, specific number of shareholders and a minimum market value and share price. As of 2011, applicants needed to meet one of three different combinations of number of stockholders, total outstanding shares and market value before applying. After a company receives a clearance letter from the NYSE, verifying that it meets the exchange’s requirement for applying, the company must submit a variety of documents to the exchange. These items include copies of the corporation’s bylaws, annual shareholder reports from the past five years, latest Form 10-K and bond and stock certificates. The company must also submit a proxy statement covering its last annual shareholders meeting. In addition to these documents, the company must submit an estimate of the amount of stock it expects to distribute.

Estimation of Earnings Test

The NYSE looks at a potential member corporation’s recent earnings as one part of its evaluation. The applying company will need to submit its earnings for the last three years and prove that it meets the exchange’s minimum threshold. In 2011, that level was $10 million in pre-tax earnings during the three-year period. During the most recent two years, the company must have earned a minimum of $2 million per year. If the corporation lost money during the first of the three previous years, its total earnings during the three-year period must have been $12 million, with at least $5 million during the latest year and $2 million during the second year.

Cashflow Test

If the applying company does not meet the desired earnings measurements of the NYSE, the exchange will consider the company’s current and recent cashflow as another test for acceptance. As of 2011, a corporation would need $500 million worth of outstanding shares of stock, $100 million in annual revenue and revenue of $25 million total during the last three years, without a net loss during any of those years.

Revenue Test

Failing the first two tests, a business may also apply for a listing based on the strength of its revenues. As of 2011, the NYSE required a market capitalization worth $750 million, with $75 million in revenue during its most recent fiscal year.

Designated Market Maker

After the NYSE receives an applicant’s documents, it introduces the company to one of five Designated Market Maker companies, which help the business during the application process and after the stock begins to sell. These companies include Bank of America Merrily Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Barclay’s Capital, GETCO and Knight Capital Group. They are obligated to maintain fair and orderly practices for managing their assigned securities and sign sworn statements attesting to the truthfulness of the applicant’s documents and worthiness of the corporation to be listed on the NYSE.


When the NYSE has all of a company’s documents, it conducts a review of the corporation and makes its determination. During the review, it may ask the business for more information.

About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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