What is 52-Week High and Low?

February 10, 20236 min read
What is 52-Week High and Low?
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Key Takeaways:

  • Investors often use 52-week high and low numbers to see trends in stock trades.
  • Determining how a stock is trending is a key component of momentum investing.
  • Some investors use new 52-week highs or lows as prompts to buy or sell.

Investors often use 52-week high and low indicators to inform their buy and sell decisions. These indices refer to a stock’s per-share prices over the previous 52 weeks. Such high/low numbers over the course of a year can tell investors whether a stock is trending upward or downward, which is a primary element of momentum investing. Other investors use the difference between the 52-week high and low closing prices to determine volatility levels.

The following explores 52-week highs and lows and what they mean for the average investor and offers alternatives to stock volatility.

How are Stock Prices Set?

An investment bank will assess a company’s current and projected performance and soundness to ascribe a value to the business when it goes public. The company, investment bank, and investors then meet in a series of “road shows” to help establish the best initial public offering (IPO) price. After that, the company will meet with the exchange on which it will be listed, and together they decide whether the IPO price is appropriate.

What Determines a Stock Price?

Once trading begins, a company’s share price is determined by supply and demand. In other words, high demand for shares will increase their price. If fewer people seek to buy shares, the price will drop.

52-Week High vs 52-Week Low

Viewed as a technical indicator, a 52-week high is the highest closing price for which a stock has been traded over the previous 52 weeks. Conversely, a stock’s 52-week low indicates the lowest closing price per share within the past 52 weeks.

Example of a 52-Week High and Low:

Say that, over a year, stock XYZ trades at a high of $150 and a low of $100. That puts the stock’s 52-week high/low prices at $150 and $100.

Usually, the $150 is viewed as a resistance level, while the $100 is considered a support level. What this means is that traders will start selling the stock when it reaches the resistance level and will start buying it after it hits $100.

What Does This Mean for the Broader Market?

Whenever averages such as the S&P 500 are in a protracted upward trend, many investors are prompted to identify the latest 52-week highs for NASDAQ and NYSE exchanges. The aim is to swiftly find the stocks that have the highest chance of even more upward movement.

It is common for a stock’s trading volume to spike after it crosses the 52-week mark. In fact, a Pennsylvania State University study shows that small stocks, after they surpassed 52 weeks, produced 0.6275% excess gain in the next week.

What Does This Mean for Investors?

Those who engage in momentum investing often use the 52-week high/low figures to see how stocks are trending. The strategy assumes the way a stock has performed over the past 52 weeks is likely to continue in the near term.

Some investors use the indicators to see how volatile a stock has been over the past year. Others might view a high/low gap as indication that a stock has room to grow. Further, a stock that establishes a new high or low can cause an investor to buy or sell.

Stocks that have reached a new 52-week high or low are listed daily on the NASDAQ website, as well as those of the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange.

When and Why Does This Occur in the Stock Market?

The stock market is inherently volatile, which means share prices are constantly changing. For some investors, this means employing a strategy that they believe gives them the best chance for returns. The 52-week high/low indicator is one such strategy.

What are Alternatives to Stock Market Volatility?

Regardless of whether they are firm believers in momentum investing, many investors find 52-week high and low information useful. How they use the data depends on their investing style, with the proviso that past stock performance is no guarantee of future returns.

Stock market volatility can require constant investor attention and result in worry and stress. To counter that, investors are increasingly turning to alternative investments. Such investments are not directly affected by public markets and can generate consistent secondary returns.

Take the online alternative investment platform Yieldstreet, for example, which offers vetted, curated opportunities in art and real estate with a variety of yields, durations, and minimums. To date, more than $3 billion has been invested on the platform.

Seasoned investors and financial experts widely agree that in order to offset the volatility inherent in the stock market, it is likely best for investors to diversify their portfolios.

Diversifying Through Alternatives

Alternative investments can be a good way to help accomplish this. Traditional portfolio asset allocation envisages a 60% public stock and 40% fixed income allocation. However, a more balanced 60/20/20 or 50/30/20 split, incorporating alternative assets, may make a portfolio less sensitive to public market short-term swings.

Real estate, private equity, venture capital, digital assets, precious metals and collectibles are among the asset classes deemed “alternative investments.” Broadly speaking, such investments tend to be less connected to public equity, and thus offer potential for diversification. Of course, like traditional investments, it is important to remember alternatives also entail a degree of risk.

In some cases, this risk can be greater than that of traditional investments.

This is why these asset classes were traditionally accessible only to an exclusive base of wealthy individuals and institutional investors buying in at very high minimums — often between $500,000 and $1 million. These people were considered to be more capable of weathering losses of that magnitude, should the investments underperform.

However, Yieldstreet has opened a number of carefully curated alternative investment strategies to all investors. While the risk is still there, the company offers help in capitalizing on areas such as real estate, legal finance, art finance and structured notes — as well as a wide range of other unique alternative investments.

Learn more about the ways Yieldstreet can help diversify and grow portfolios.

In Summary

Stock price 52-week highs and lows are generally viewed as indicators for investors who utilize technical analyses, although as noted, share price histories do not guarantee future performance.

To help neutralize the volatility that is intrinsic to the stock market, many investors are diversifying portfolios with alternatives, which are not directly tied to public markets.

Yieldstreet can help with such diversification.

All securities involve risk and may result in significant losses. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. Alternative investments involve specific risks that may be greater than those associated with traditional investments; are not suitable for all clients; and intended for experienced and sophisticated investors who meet specific suitability requirements and are willing to bear the high economic risks of the investment. Investments of this type may engage in speculative investment practices; carry additional risk of loss, including possibility of partial or total loss of invested capital, due to the nature and volatility of the underlying investments; and are generally considered to be illiquid due to restrictive repurchase procedures. These investments may also involve different regulatory and reporting requirements, complex tax structures, and delays in distributing important tax information.