THE day-to-day stock market slugfest between the American Stock
Exchange (AMEX) and its chief rival, the NASDAQ listings of the
National Association of Securities Dealers, may well be basically
over, say a number of experts who monitor Wall Street.
In terms of the total volume of shares traded, the number of
companies listed by AMEX or carried on NASDAQ's over-the-counter
listings, NASDAQ's advanced electronic-trading system, and the
growing equal treatment of NASDAQ and AMEX-listed companies in many
states, NASDAQ appears to be a clear winner in what had become an
intense battle for market supremacy, according to experts such as
Merton Miller, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago.
Not only that, says Dr. Miller, AMEX, which saw its net-earnings
slip sharply last year, following the 1987 market crash, appears
well on its way to being outclassed by aggressive regional stock
exchanges, such as the Midwestern Stock Exchange, based in Chicago.
"They're a minor market," sniffs a NASDAQ official, referring to
the American Stock Exchange. "We're now more comparable to the New
York Stock Exchange."
"They've just got every company that doesn't qualify for listing
on a stock exchange," retorts an AMEX booster, with a laugh. "When
we think of our American Stock Exchange, we think of `big fishes in
a little pond.' A company on the AMEX has great visibility, and
isn't going to get lost like they might over at the New York Stock
Exchange. And there are important requirements for listing on the
American Stock Exchange."
Outwardly, of course, the two competitive stock listings couldn't
be more different. The American Stock Exchange is primarily an
auction exchange - a forum for bringing together buyers and sellers.
And there is an actual physical setting where trading takes place,
just as is the case with the giant New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Moreover, AMEX has fairly stiff listing requirements for companies,
including a pre-tax income of $750,000; 500,000 shares publicly
traded; and stockholder equity of $4 million.
NASDAQ, by contrast, is an electronic trading system involving
computer communication between dealers. There is no central trading
floor as there is with the NYSE or AMEX. Indeed, the term NASDAQ
means National Association of Securities Dealers Automated
Quotations. Here, in the NASDAQ listing, is where one can find
listings for stocks traded over the counter, not on any formal
exchange. Financial requirements are modest to minimal for NASDAQ.
Still, NASDAQ's growth, particularly for that of its National
Market System, has been remarkable in recent years. NASDAQ goes back
to the early 1970s. AMEX has been around since 1842, under its
predecessor organization, the New York Curb Exchange, and since 1953
under its current name. …