The trading symbols of common stocks are standardized. To get a quote for a share of Public Storage common stock, for example, you can go to any online service and type in 'PSA' and there it is.
But to get a quote for one of Public Storage's preferred stocks (a company can have several preferred stock issues: series A, series B, etc.), you have to know which trading symbol convention is used by your online service.
Unfortunately, preferred stock trading symbols are not standardized like their common stock counterparts. Those reading an article that provides the trading symbol of a specific preferred stock will usually get that "invalid symbol" error message when they look it up in their broker's system or other online service.
For example, the series A preferred stock from Public Storage is referred to as PSA.PA here at Seeking Alpha but PSA-A at TDAmeritrade and PSA-PA at Yahoo Finance; same security, different symbols.
The good news is that once you find the preferred stock symbol convention used by your quoting service (most people tend to favor one over others), that's the only one you have to remember.
Find the online service that you use on the table below and you'll be all set.
Other Examples: Citigroup’s (NYSE:C) series G trust preferred stock at Seeking Alpha is C.PG. But if you are using E*Trade to get a price quote you would use C.PR.G. WR Berkley’s (NYSE:WRB) series A preferred stock at Yahoo Finance is WRB-PA while at the New York Stock Exchange it is WRBPRA.
If you use an online service that is not listed here just try the conventions you see above one at a time. The chances are very good that your service uses one of them.
Seeking Alpha Contributors: If you include a preferred stock trading symbol in your article, you are welcome to provide a footnote that links to this page so that your readers can look up the preferred stock that you are writing about, using their online service.
Updates To This Table: Please click on the Send Message button under my photo at left to submit updates to this table. As if having different symbols for the same security wasn't confusing enough, some of the online services that you see listed here have an annoying habit of changing their convention every once in a while (MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance) while others use more than one convention (Scottrade). Provide the service and an example trading symbol and I will include it in the next update. Your fellow preferred stock investors thank you!
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.