Nasdaq Upgrades Requirements

Last week's overview of the trading markets netted me some feedback from Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ  ) , since their representatives thought I should know about some upcoming changes to their listings.

In short, the Nasdaq market is currently really divided into two entities: the Nasdaq National Market and the Nasdaq Capital Market (formerly known as the Nasdaq SmallCap Market). The two markets do have separate initial listing criteria, and of course, the former SmallCap market's minimums are lower.

You rarely see any distinction made between the two market tiers, though. The Fool, for example, is happy to mark Capital Market participants like its largest member Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS  ) or Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection Hooker Furniture (Nasdaq: HOFT  ) with the same Nasdaq tag we give Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) or Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) .

Starting next week, Nasdaq will come in three flavors rather than two, thanks to the addition of a Nasdaq Global Select designation. It's a higher listing standard than the National Market (which will also change its name to Nasdaq Global Market), demanding substantially higher revenues, earnings, and/or market caps, and designed to be the toughest listing requirements in the world.

Nasdaq is clearly fed up with playing second fiddle to NYSE Group (NYSE: NYX  ) , and it's taking steps to close the image gap between the two. Will it work? Only time will tell. You don't change a public image overnight, no matter how much you raise listing standards. It will be up to the Nasdaq PR department to do a good job of promoting its new gold standard and convincing the market of its value.

I haven't been told to change the way I tag Nasdaq companies in the future to distinguish between Global Select and plain Global stocks, though there's still time for that. About one-third of the combined Nasdaq markets of today will qualify for the new listing standard, and investors who like to stick with the perceived higher-quality companies of the NYSE might be enticed to take a look at the new kid on the block.

Just remember that these are still the same excellent companies that are leading the Nasdaq today; they're just held up to a brighter, less forgiving light. Will it be the spotlight of increased market visibility, or a vanity mirror that shows all the wrinkles and pimples? Again, we'll just have to wait and see.

Further Foolish reading:

NYSE Group is a Rule Breakers pick, and Hooker Furniture is a Hidden Gems selection. Take the newsletter of your choice for a 30-day free trial.

Fool contributorAnders Bylund owns none of the stocks discussed today, but, of course, he holds a good number of Nasdaq-traded shares. Foolishdisclosureis your flashlight in the dark wilderness of the markets.

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