Economic Indicator
Statistical data showing general trends in the economy. Those with predictive value are leading indicators; those occurring at the same time as the related economic activity are coincident indicators; and those that only become apparent after the activity are lagging indicators. Examples are unemployment, housing starts, Consumer Price Index, industrial production, bankruptcies, GDP, stock market prices, money supply changes, and housing starts. also called business indicators.

Economic Value Added
EVA. The monetary value of an entity at the end of an time period minus the monetary value of that same entity at the beginning of that time period.
For a company, after-tax earnings minus the opportunity cost of capital. As with any other entity, economic value added essentially measures how much more valuable a company has become during a given time period.
Employee Stock Ownership Plan
ESOP. A trust established by a corporate which acts as a tax-qualified, defined-contribution retirement plan by making the corporation’s employees partial owners. contributions are made by the sponsoring employer, and can grow tax-deferred, just as with an IRA or 401(k) plan. But unlike other retirement plans, the contributions must be invested in the company’s stock. The benefits for the company include increased cash flow, tax savings, and increased productivity from highly motivated workers. The main benefit for the employees is the ability to share in the company’s success. Due to the tax benefits, the administration of ESOPs is regulated, and numerous restrictions apply. also called stock purchase plan.

Ex-Dividend
A security which no longer carries the right to the most recently declared dividend; or the period of time between the announcement of the dividend and the payment. A security becomes ex-dividend on the ex-dividend date (set by the NASD), which is usually two business days before the record date (set by the company issuing the dividend). For transactions during the ex-dividend period, the seller, not the buyer, will receive the dividend. Ex-dividend is usually indicated in newspapers with an x next to the stock or mutual fund’s name. In general, a stock’s price drops the day the ex-dividend period starts, since the buyer will not receive the benefit of the dividend payout till the next dividend date. As the stock gets closer to the next dividend date, the price may gradually rise in anticipation of the dividend.

Exchange Traded Fund
ETF. A fund that tracks an index, but can be traded like a stock. ETFs always bundle together the securities that are in an index; they never track actively managed mutual fund portfolios (because most actively managed funds only disclose their holdings a few times a year, so the ETF would not know when to adjust its holdings most of the time). Investors can do just about anything with an ETF that they can do with a normal stock, such as short selling. Because ETFs are traded on stock exchanges, they can be bought and sold at any time during the day (unlike most mutual funds). Their price will fluctuate from moment to moment, just like any other stock’s price, and an investor will need a broker in order to purchase them, which means that he/she will have to pay a commission. On the plus side, ETFs are more tax-efficient than normal mutual funds, and since they track indexes they have very low operating and transaction costs associated with them. There are no sales loads or investment minimums required to purchase an ETF. The first ETF created was the Standard and Poor’s Deposit Receipt (SPDR, pronounced “Spider”) in 1993. SPDRs gave investors an easy way to track the S&P 500 without buying an index fund, and they soon become quite popular.

Exercise Price
The specified price on an option contract at which the contract may be exercised, whereby a call option buyer can buy the underlier or a put option buyer can sell the underlier. The buyer’s profit from exercising the option is the amount by which the spot price exceeds the exercise price (in the case of a call), or the amount by which the exercise price exceeds the spot price (in the case of a put). In general, the smaller the difference between spot and exercise price, the higher the option premium. also called strike price.

Expiration Date
The date on which an option, right or warrant expires, and becomes worthless if not exercised. For stock options, this is the third Saturday of the month in which the contract expires, or the third Thursday of the month if the third Friday is a holiday.
The date on which an agreement is no longer in effect.