updated 1/12/2004 3:37:24 PM ET 2004-01-12T20:37:24

Six companies currently listed on the New York Stock Exchange, including heavyweights Hewlett-Packard Co. and Charles Schwab Corp., have decided to dual-list their stocks on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

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Taking advantage of the dual-listing program, first reported last week and unveiled Monday, computer maker Hewlett-Packard and financial giant Schwab were joined by petroleum firm Apache Corp., electronic design company Cadence Design Systems, financial services company Countrywide Financial and drugstore retailer Walgreen Co.

The move gives investors the opportunity to find the best price on the two different markets, and gives the dual-listed firms more flexibility in their offerings, according to Espen Eckbo, director of the Center for Corporate Governance at Dartmouth University's Tuck School of Business.

It also gives the NYSE added impetus to jump-start its plans to upgrade its floor trading systems, which have been criticized as outdated and slow, especially when compared to the all-electronic Nasdaq, Eckbo said.

"In the long run, this is good for the NYSE, because it will push them into implementing some kind of long-term strategy," Eckbo said. "In the short term, of course, this is cause for concern because their plans are not as far along as they should be."

NYSE spokesman Bob Zito said the exchange is always planning for the future and constantly improving its market systems, and that Nasdaq's dual-listing program is not seen as a competitive threat. He noted that while 80 percent of NYSE stocks trade on the exchange itself, 20 percent are traded on other markets including the Nasdaq.

Schwab chief executive officer David Pottruck praised the dual-listing option. "Our hope is that as more companies opt for dual-listing, we will experience a healthy increased competition in our trading markets, resulting in innovative applications of technology, heightened transparency, and improved trading outcomes for all investors," he said.

Walgreen chairman Dave Bernauer said his company feels dual listing will bring more competition to the markets and give investors more choice in trading venues.

"We believe this move is in the best interests of both our individual and institutional shareholders," he said.

Walgreen, based in Deerfield, Ill., said it had signed a one-year agreement with Nasdaq to list on both exchanges, and that the dual listing will become effective within several weeks.

The firms will trade on Nasdaq with the same three-letter ticker symbol used on the NYSE, Nasdaq officials said.

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