Pink Sheets LLC



OTC Markets Group (previously known as Pink Sheets) is an American financial market providing price and
liquidity Liquidity is a concept in economics involving the convertibility of assets and obligations. It can include: * Market liquidity, the ease with which an asset can be sold * Accounting liquidity In accounting, liquidity (or accounting liquidity) ...
information for almost 10,000
over-the-counter Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are medicines sold directly to a consumer without a requirement for a prescription from a healthcare professional, as opposed to prescription drugs, which may be supplied only to consumers possessing a valid prescr ...
(OTC) securities. The group has its headquarters in
New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over , New York City is also the most densely populated major city in the Un ...
. OTC-traded securities are organized into three markets to inform investors of opportunities and risks: OTCQX, OTCQB and
Pink Pink is the color of a namesake flower that is a pale tint of red. It was first used as a color name in the late 17th century. According to surveys in Europe and the United States, pink is the color most often associated with charm, politeness, ...


The company was first established in 1913 as the National Quotation Bureau (NQB). For decades, the NQB reported quotations for both stocks and bonds, publishing the quotations in the paper-based Pink Sheets and Yellow Sheets respectively. The publications were named for the color of paper on which they were printed. NQB was owned by CCH from 1963 to 1993. In September 1999, the NQB introduced the real-time Electronic Quotation Service. The National Quotation Bureau changed its name to Pink Sheets LLC in 2000 and subsequently to Pink OTC Markets in 2008. The company eventually changed to its current name, OTC Markets Group, in 2010. Today, a network of 89
broker-dealer In financial services, a broker-dealer is a natural person, company or other organization that engages in the business of trading securities for its own account or on behalf of its customers. Broker-dealers are at the heart of the securities and ...
s price and trade a wide spectrum of securities on the OTC Markets platform. To be quoted on the platform, companies are not required to file with the SEC, although many choose to do so. A wide range of companies are quoted on OTC Markets, including firmly established foreign firms, mostly through
American depositary receipt An American depositary receipt (ADR, and sometimes spelled ''depository'') is a negotiable security that represents securities of a foreign company and allows that company's shares to trade in the U.S. financial markets. Shares of many non-U.S ...
s (ADRs). In addition, many closely held, extremely small and thinly traded U.S. companies have their primary trading on the OTC Markets platform. Many foreign issuers adhere to the listing requirements of qualified foreign
stock exchange A stock exchange, securities exchange, or bourse is an exchange where stockbrokers and traders can buy and sell securities, such as shares of stock, bonds and other financial instruments. Stock exchanges may also provide facilities for the ...
s and make their home country disclosure available in English. There are also a significant number of U.S.-based issuers who are current in their reporting to regulators such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or make available ongoing quarterly and audited annual financial reports through OTC Markets Group. Many companies in the Pink market tier of the OTC categorization system do not meet the United States' listing requirements for trading on a stock exchange such as the
New York Stock Exchange The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE, nicknamed "The Big Board") is an American stock exchange in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed c ...
NASDAQ The Nasdaq Stock Market () (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations Stock Market) is an American stock exchange based in New York City. It is the most active stock trading venue in the US by volume, and ranked second ...
. Many of these issuers do not file periodic reports or make available audited
financial statements Financial statements (or financial reports) are formal records of the financial activities and position of a business, person, or other entity. Relevant financial information is presented in a structured manner and in a form which is easy to un ...
, making it very difficult for investors to find reliable, unbiased information about those companies. For these reasons the SEC views many of the lower-tier companies traded on OTC Markets as "among the most risky investments" and advises potential investors to heavily research the companies in which they plan to invest. Securities trading on the OTCQB and higher-tiered OTCQX trading marketplaces have status of Blue Sky secondary trading exemptions in 33 states and brokers may recommend such securities to their clients like securities listed on national stock exchanges.


OTC Markets Group designates securities in one of three markets to indicate the level of financial and corporate disclosure provided by the companies using its quotation system. Apart from the OTCQX market, which has rules that include financial requirements, the designations do not signify issuer quality or merit of any security. Designation is based on the level and timeliness of a company's disclosure and OTCQB and any of the Pink categories can include both high quality as well as speculative, distressed, or questionable companies. Strict promotion policies have been enacted to flag these companies and deny their application for trading if they engage actively in campaigns marked by misleading information or manipulative promotions. The OTCQX and OTCQB markets are considered 'Established Public Markets' by the SEC for the purpose of determining the public market price when registering securities for resale with the SEC in equity line financings. OTC Markets Group can facilitate electronic trading with its SEC-registered Alternative Trading System known as OTC Link® ATS.


The OTCQX market includes both multinational companies seeking access to U.S. investors and domestic growth companies. To be traded on this tier, companies must undergo a qualitative review by OTC Markets Group. Companies are not required to be registered with or reporting to the SEC, but they must post financial information with OTC Markets Group. In addition, U.S. companies must be ongoing operations (i.e., no shells) and may not be in bankruptcy, while foreign issuers must meet the requirements of qualified foreign exchanges. Additional oversight of OTCQX securities is provided by requiring every issuer to be sponsored by approved third-party
investment banks Investment banking pertains to certain activities of a financial services company or a corporate division that consist in advisory-based financial transactions on behalf of individuals, corporations, and governments. Traditionally associated with ...
or law firms, called OTCQX Sponsors.


Pink is an open market that has no financial standards or reporting requirements. The stock of companies in the Pink tier are not required to be registered with the SEC. Companies in this category are further categorized by the level and timeliness of information they provide to investors and may have current, limited, or no public disclosure.

Current Information

Companies submitting regular Quarterly and Annual Reports go into the Current category. This category can still include shell companies or development stage companies with little or no operations as well as companies without audited
financial statement Financial statements (or financial reports) are formal records of the financial activities and position of a business, person, or other entity. Relevant financial information is presented in a structured manner and in a form which is easy to un ...
s. Companies in this category must not only have Quarterly reports duly posted every three months, but most have Annual reports for at least the preceding two years on file.

Limited Information

Companies that have submitted information no older than six months to the OTC Markets data and news service or have made a filing on the SEC's
EDGAR Edgar is a commonly used English given name, from an Anglo-Saxon name ''Eadgar'' (composed of '' ead'' "rich, prosperous" and '' gar'' "spear"). Like most Anglo-Saxon names, it fell out of use by the later medieval period; it was, however, r ...
system in the previous six months are rated as having limited information. Companies that are unwilling or unable to meet OTC Markets' Guidelines for Providing Adequate Current Information with Quarterly and Annual Reports every three months, but which still submit information at least every six months, are in this category. These are often companies with
financial reporting Financial statements (or financial reports) are formal records of the financial activities and position of a business, person, or other entity. Relevant financial information is presented in a structured manner and in a form which is easy to un ...
problems, economic distress, or in
bankruptcy Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor ...

No Information

This tier indicates companies that are unwilling or unable to provide disclosure to the public markets. Companies in this category do not make current information available via OTC Markets disclosure and news service, or if they do, the available information is older than six months. This category includes defunct companies that have ceased operations as well as "dark" companies with questionable management and market disclosure practices. Securities of publicly traded companies that are not willing to provide information to investors are considered highly risky.

Caveat Emptor

There is a
public interest The public interest is "the welfare or well-being of the general public" and society. Overview Economist Lok Sang Ho in his ''Public Policy and the Public Interest'' argues that the public interest must be assessed impartially and, therefore ...
concern associated with the company designated as "Caveat Emptor" (Latin for "buyer beware".) This may include a
spam Spam may refer to: * Spam (food), a canned pork meat product * Spamming, unsolicited or undesired electronic messages ** Email spam, unsolicited, undesired, or illegal email messages ** Messaging spam, spam targeting users of instant messaging ( ...
campaign, stock promotion or known investigation of
fraudulent In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compen ...
activity committed by the company or through inside information. During a spam campaign, any stock that is not in the Current Information category will also have its quotes blocked on

Quotation eligibility

The SEC requires broker-dealers to comply with Exchange Act Rule 15c2-11 before displaying quotes on OTC securities, and requires submission of Form 211 to the FINRA OTC Compliance Unit. In 2019, amendments were proposed to 15c2-11, which had not been significantly amended since 1991. FINRA Rule 6500 contains rules on quoting OTC securities on the OTCBB, but the OTCBB has diminished in importance and by 2016 less than 2% of OTC trades occurred on the OTCBB, as opposed to OTC Markets. In 2014, FINRA proposed to remove Rule 6500 and eliminate the OTCBB, but withdrew the rule and in 2016 proposed to update the OTCBB to provide a backup system in case quotation is disrupted or nonexistent. Other FINRA rules such as Rule 6432 and Rule 5250 relate to the SEC Rule 15c2-11; for example, Rule 5250 prohibits market makers from receiving compensation from issuers.

Risks and regulation

Many of the stocks traded OTC are microcap stocks, also known as penny stocks, which are known for fraudulent microcap stock fraud and penny stock scams. After the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, some companies delisted and became OTC to save costs and avoid certain regulations, although OTC companies have faced pressure to improve disclosure.

Other OTC markets


The OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB) is only a listing of securities that are also traded "over the counter" similar to the OTC Markets. The OTCBB has diminished in importance, with very little activity, but has been retained as possible last resort system in case of disruption. OTCBB companies are required to file timely reports to a U.S. regulatory agency. Almost all OTCBB companies are now quoted via OTC Markets' OTC Link ATS because its fully
electronic trading platform In finance, an electronic trading platform also known as an online trading platform, is a computer software program that can be used to place orders for financial products over a network with a financial intermediary. Various financial products c ...
better meets the needs of automated broker-dealers.

Grey Market

Securities that are not listed on any stock exchange nor formally quoted on OTC Markets or OTCBB are considered to be in the Grey Market. Unsolicited transactions are processed independently and not centrally listed or quoted. Trades are reported to a
self-regulatory organization A self-regulatory organization (SRO) is an organization that exercises some degree of regulatory authority over an industry or profession. The regulatory authority could exist in place of government regulation, or applied in addition to governmen ...
(SRO), which then passes the data on to market data companies. The Grey Market is also called OTOTC or Other OTC.

Compliance Data Products

Compliance Analytics

The Compliance Analytics Product creates a security specific risk score for all OTCQX, OTCQB, Pink and Grey securities. Risk is assessed over 19 parameters including caveat emptor, shell status, penny stock status, price/volume changes and stock promotion data. Recently, the product integrated "Hot Sector" information about cannabis, cryptocurrency and blockchain.

Promotion Data

The Promotion Data Product provides market professionals and investors with active and historical promotion data for OTCQX, OTCQB, Pink and Grey securities.

Index products

The company calculates and licenses indices of securities that trade on one of the top two market tiers, including the OTCM QX ADR 30 Index of OTCQX-traded American depository receipts


External links

* {{Official website
SEC information about OTC Markets

Electronic trading platforms Financial services companies of the United States 1913 establishments in New York (state) American companies established in 1913 Financial services companies established in 1913