What it is:
Hard-coded stock has a unique identifier (a "ticker symbol") assigned to it by a registered exchange.
How it works/Example:
Stocks traded on a registered exchange (for example, the New York Stock Exchange) are represented for easy reference by an alphabetic abbreviation. This symbol is made up of one, two or three letters for stocks listed on the NYSE or up to five letters for stocks listed on the Nasdaq. For example, Microsoft Corporation is represented on the New York Stock Exchange by the letters MSFT.
Why it matters:
Hard-coded stocks save traders and analysts time while searching for price quotes and other stock-related information. On the other hand, stock symbols can be confusing for non-professionals. It is important that investors, traders and analysts ensure that the symbol they are using is correctly associated with the stock they wish to research.