Does the sentence in bold mean "making Goldman Sachs stock price equal to Chevron and Exxon Mobil's stock prices, and three of them have become the worst Dow stocks of 2017"?

Morgan Stanley's stock is now back in positive territory for 2017 thanks to its rally on Wednesday. Goldman Sachs shares are down 10%, putting it in a virtual three-way tie with oil giants Chevron (CVX) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) as the worst Dow stocks of 2017.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/19/investing/morgan-stanley-earnings-wall-street-goldman-sachs/index.html?iid=SF_LN

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    You need to do some of your own legwork and at the very least let us know what is giving you doubts. What don't you understand? The word virtual? The word tie? The hyphenated three-way? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 20 '17 at 10:53
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    I've upvoted TRomano's comment, but I would like to add that your guess is correct. – Teacher KSHuang Apr 20 '17 at 11:39
  • The guess is virtually correct :) – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 20 '17 at 11:44

In this context, "virtual" means almost exactly, as in "virtually the same", and "three-way tie" means a tie (multiple winners) involving three people/companies. So the three companys' Dow stocks are almost exactly as bad as each others.


The adjective virtual here can be thought of as approximately.

Some definitions from the Wordnik page include:

Existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact

In effect or essence, if not in fact or reality

So the main idea is this: There is no need to debate which of the three stocks was actually the worst; all three of them performed so badly that we might as well clump them together and call it a three-way tie, without spending the time to calculate which one was actually the worst.

As another example, suppose I gave an exam, and the 18 students in my class scored as follows:

94 92 90 90 89 88 87 87 86 84 77 76 76 74 72 52 51 50

I might tell the student who scored the 51: You were in a virtual three-way tie for the lowest score in the class. This isn't precisely factual, because this student in fact scored one point higher than one student, and one point lower than another. But the three scores are so close together and so much lower than the rest of the class that I can call it a virtual tie. It's essentially a three-way tie, even though it's not technically a three-way tie.

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