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In finance, stock (also capital stock) consists of all the
shares In financial markets, a share is a unit of equity ownership in the capital stock of a corporation, and can refer to units of mutual funds, limited partnerships, and real estate investment trusts. Share capital refers to all of the shares of an ...
by which ownership of a
corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the state to act as a single entity (a legal entity recognized by private and public law "born out of statute"; a legal person in legal context) and re ...
or company is divided.Longman Business English Dictionary:
"stock - ''especially AmE'' one of the shares into which ownership of a company is divided, or these shares considered together"
"When a company issues shares or stocks ''especially AmE'', it makes them available for people to buy for the first time."
(Especially in American English, the word "stocks" is also used to refer to shares.) A single share of the stock means fractional ownership of the corporation in proportion to the total number of shares. This typically entitles the shareholder (stockholder) to that fraction of the company's earnings, proceeds from liquidation of assets (after discharge of all senior claims such as secured and unsecured
debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to another party, the creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, which differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The ...
), or voting power, often dividing these up in proportion to the amount of money each stockholder has invested. Not all stock is necessarily equal, as certain classes of stock may be issued for example without voting rights, with enhanced voting rights, or with a certain priority to receive profits or liquidation proceeds before or after other classes of shareholders. Stock can be bought and sold privately or on stock exchanges, and such transactions are typically heavily regulated by governments to prevent fraud, protect investors, and benefit the larger economy. The stocks are deposited with the depositories in the electronic format also known as Demat account. As new shares are issued by a company, the ownership and rights of existing shareholders are diluted in return for cash to sustain or grow the business. Companies can also buy back stock, which often lets investors recoup the initial investment plus capital gains from subsequent rises in stock price.
Stock options In finance, an option is a contract which conveys to its owner, the ''holder'', the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a specific quantity of an underlying asset or instrument at a specified strike price on or before a specified dat ...
issued by many companies as part of employee compensation do not represent ownership, but represent the right to buy ownership at a future time at a specified price. This would represent a windfall to the employees if the option is exercised when the market price is higher than the promised price, since if they immediately sold the stock they would keep the difference (minus taxes).


Shares

A person who owns a percentage of the stock has the ownership of the corporation proportional to their share. The shares form a stock. The stock of a corporation is partitioned into
shares In financial markets, a share is a unit of equity ownership in the capital stock of a corporation, and can refer to units of mutual funds, limited partnerships, and real estate investment trusts. Share capital refers to all of the shares of an ...
, the total of which are stated at the time of business formation. Additional shares may subsequently be authorized by the existing shareholders and issued by the company. In some jurisdictions, each share of stock has a certain declared
par value Par value, in finance and accounting, means stated value or face value. From this come the expressions at par (at the par value), over par (over par value) and under par (under par value). Bonds A bond selling at par is priced at 100% of face va ...
, which is a nominal accounting value used to represent the equity on the
balance sheet In financial accounting, a balance sheet (also known as statement of financial position or statement of financial condition) is a summary of the financial balances of an individual or organization, whether it be a sole proprietorship, a business ...
of the corporation. In other jurisdictions, however, shares of stock may be issued without associated par value. Shares represent a fraction of ownership in a business. A business may declare different types (or classes) of shares, each having distinctive ownership rules, privileges, or share values. Ownership of shares may be documented by issuance of a
stock certificate In corporate law, a stock certificate (also known as certificate of stock or share certificate) is a legal document that certifies the legal interest (a bundle of several legal rights) of ownership of a specific number of shares (or, under Ar ...
. A stock certificate is a legal document that specifies the number of shares owned by the shareholder, and other specifics of the shares, such as the par value, if any, or the class of the shares. In the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales and North ...
,
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland (), is a country in north-western Europe consisting of 26 of the 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, on the eastern side of the island ...
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the ...
, and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
, ''stock'' can also refer, less commonly, to all kinds of
marketable securities A security is a tradable financial asset. The term commonly refers to any form of financial instrument, but its legal definition varies by jurisdiction. In some countries and languages people commonly use the term "security" to refer to any for ...
.


Types

Stock typically takes the form of shares of either
common stock Common stock is a form of corporate equity ownership, a type of security. The terms voting share and ordinary share are also used frequently outside of the United States. They are known as equity shares or ordinary shares in the UK and other Com ...
or
preferred stock Preferred stock (also called preferred shares, preference shares, or simply preferreds) is a component of share capital that may have any combination of features not possessed by common stock, including properties of both an equity and a debt inst ...
. As a unit of ownership, common stock typically carries
voting rights Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections and referendums (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote). In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to v ...
that can be exercised in corporate decisions.
Preferred stock Preferred stock (also called preferred shares, preference shares, or simply preferreds) is a component of share capital that may have any combination of features not possessed by common stock, including properties of both an equity and a debt inst ...
differs from common stock in that it typically does not carry voting rights but is legally entitled to receive a certain level of dividend payments before any dividends can be issued to other shareholders.Zvi Bodie, Alex Kane, Alan J. Marcus, ''Investments'', 9th Ed., . Convertible preferred stock is preferred stock that includes an option for the holder to convert the preferred shares into a fixed number of common shares, usually any time after a predetermined date. Shares of such stock are called "convertible preferred shares" (or "convertible preference shares" in the UK). New equity issue may have specific legal clauses attached that differentiate them from previous issues of the issuer. Some shares of common stock may be issued without the typical voting rights, for instance, or some shares may have special rights unique to them and issued only to certain parties. Often, new issues that have not been registered with a securities governing body may be restricted from resale for certain periods of time. Preferred stock may be hybrid by having the qualities of bonds of fixed returns and common stock voting rights. They also have preference in the payment of dividends over common stock and also have been given preference at the time of liquidation over common stock. They have other features of accumulation in dividend. In addition, preferred stock usually comes with a letter designation at the end of the security; for example, Berkshire-Hathaway Class "B" shares sell under stock ticker BRK.B, whereas Class "A" shares of ORION DHC, Inc will sell under ticker OODHA until the company drops the "A" creating ticker OODH for its "Common" shares only designation. This extra letter does not mean that any exclusive rights exist for the shareholders but it does let investors know that the shares are considered for such, however, these rights or privileges may change based on the decisions made by the underlying company.


Rule 144 stock

" Rule 144 Stock" is an American term given to shares of stock subject to SEC Rule 144: Selling Restricted and Control Securities. Under Rule 144, restricted and controlled securities are acquired in unregistered form. Investors either purchase or take ownership of these securities through private sales (or other means such as via ESOPs or in exchange for seed money) from the issuing company (as in the case with Restricted Securities) or from an affiliate of the issuer (as in the case with Control Securities). Investors wishing to sell these securities are subject to different rules than those selling traditional common or preferred stock. These individuals will only be allowed to liquidate their securities after meeting the specific conditions set forth by SEC Rule 144. Rule 144 allows public re-sale of restricted securities if a number of different conditions are met.


Stock derivatives

A stock derivative is any financial instrument for which the
underlying In finance, a derivative is a contract that ''derives'' its value from the performance of an underlying entity. This underlying entity can be an asset, index, or interest rate, and is often simply called the "underlying". Derivatives can be use ...
asset is the price of an equity. Futures and options are the main types of derivatives on stocks. The underlying security may be a stock index or an individual firm's stock, e.g. single-stock futures. Stock futures are contracts where the buyer is long, i.e., takes on the obligation to buy on the contract maturity date, and the seller is short, i.e., takes on the obligation to sell. Stock index futures are generally delivered by cash settlement. A stock option is a class of option. Specifically, a
call option In finance, a call option, often simply labeled a "call", is a contract between the buyer and the seller of the call option to exchange a security at a set price. The buyer of the call option has the right, but not the obligation, to buy an ...
is the right (''not'' obligation) to buy stock in the future at a fixed price and a
put option In finance, a put or put option is a derivative instrument in financial markets that gives the holder (i.e. the purchaser of the put option) the right to sell an asset (the ''underlying''), at a specified price (the ''strike''), by (or at) a s ...
is the right (''not'' obligation) to sell stock in the future at a fixed price. Thus, the value of a stock option changes in reaction to the underlying stock of which it is a derivative. The most popular method of valuing stock options is the
Black–Scholes model The Black–Scholes or Black–Scholes–Merton model is a mathematical model for the dynamics of a financial market containing derivative investment instruments. From the parabolic partial differential equation in the model, known as the Black ...
. Apart from call options granted to employees, most stock options are transferable.


History

During the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the classical Roman civilization when it was run through public representation of the Roman people. Beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingd ...
, the state contracted (leased) out many of its services to private companies. These government contractors were called ''publicani'', or ''societas publicanorum'' as individual companies. These companies were similar to modern corporations, or joint-stock companies more specifically, in a couple of aspects. They issued shares called ''partes'' (for large cooperatives) and ''particulae'' which were small shares that acted like today's over-the-counter shares. Polybius mentions that "almost every citizen" participated in the government leases. There is also evidence that the price of stocks fluctuated. The Roman orator Cicero speaks of ''partes illo tempore carissimae'', which means "shares that had a very high price at that time". This implies a fluctuation of price and stock market behavior in Rome. Around 1250 in
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Its metropolitan area e ...
at
Toulouse Toulouse ( , ; oc, Tolosa ) is the prefecture of the French department of Haute-Garonne and of the larger region of Occitania. The city is on the banks of the River Garonne, from the Mediterranean Sea, from the Atlantic Ocean and from Pari ...
, 100 shares of the ''Société des Moulins du Bazacle'', or
Bazacle Milling Company The Society of Moulins du Bazacle, also known as Bazacle Company is a French watermill system founded in Toulouse in the 12th century by the citizens of the city to share the operation of a series of mills installed on the site of the Bazacle. T ...
were traded at a value that depended on the profitability of the mills the society owned. As early as 1288, the Swedish mining and forestry products company
Stora Stora Enso Oyj (from sv, Stora and fi, Enso ) is a manufacturer of pulp, paper and other forest products, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland. The majority of sales takes place in Europe, but there are also significant operations in Asia and S ...
has documented a stock transfer, in which the Bishop of Västerås acquired a 12.5% interest in the mine (or more specifically, the mountain in which the copper resource was available, the Great Copper Mountain) in exchange for an estate. The earliest recognized joint-stock company in modern times was the English (later British) East India Company, one of the most notorious joint-stock companies. It was granted an English Royal Charter by
Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death in 1603. Elizabeth was the last of the five House of Tudor monarchs and is sometimes referred to as the "Virgin Queen". Eli ...
on 31 December 1600, with the intention of favouring trade privileges in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the so ...
. The Royal Charter effectively gave the newly created ''Honourable East India Company'' (HEIC) a 15-year monopoly on all trade in the
East Indies The East Indies (or simply the Indies), is a term used in historical narratives of the Age of Discovery. The Indies refers to various lands in the East or the Eastern hemisphere, particularly the islands and mainlands found in and around ...
. The company transformed from a commercial trading venture to one that virtually ruled
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the so ...
as it acquired auxiliary governmental and military functions, until its dissolution. Soon afterwards, in 1602, the Dutch East India Company issued the first shares that were made tradeable on the
Amsterdam Stock Exchange Euronext Amsterdam is a stock exchange based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Formerly known as the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, it merged on 22 September 2000 with the Brussels Stock Exchange and the Paris Stock Exchange to form Euronext. The ...
, an invention that enhanced the ability of joint-stock companies to attract capital from investors as they now easily could dispose of their shares. The Dutch East India Company became the first multinational corporation and the first megacorporation. Between 1602 and 1796 it traded 2.5 million tons of cargo with Asia on 4,785 ships and sent a million Europeans to work in Asia, surpassing all other rivals. The innovation of joint ownership made a great deal of
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
's
economic growth Economic growth can be defined as the increase or improvement in the inflation-adjusted market value of the goods and services produced by an economy in a financial year. Statisticians conventionally measure such growth as the percent rate of ...
possible following the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
. The technique of pooling capital to finance the building of ships, for example, made the Netherlands a
maritime Maritime may refer to: Geography * Maritime Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps * Maritime Region, a region in Togo * Maritime Southeast Asia * The Maritimes, the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Pr ...
superpower. Before the adoption of the joint-stock corporation, an expensive venture such as the building of a merchant ship could be undertaken only by governments or by very wealthy individuals or families. The Dutch stock market of the 17th century included the use of stock futures,
stock options In finance, an option is a contract which conveys to its owner, the ''holder'', the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a specific quantity of an underlying asset or instrument at a specified strike price on or before a specified dat ...
,
short selling In finance, being short in an asset means investing in such a way that the investor will profit if the value of the asset falls. This is the opposite of a more conventional "long" position, where the investor will profit if the value of the ...
, the use of credit to purchase shares, a speculative bubble that crashed in 1695, and a change in fashion (namely, in headdresses) that unfolded and reverted in time with the market. Edward Stringham also noted that the uses of practices such as short selling continued to occur during this time despite the government passing laws against it. This is unusual because it shows individual parties fulfilling contracts that were not legally enforceable and where the parties involved could incur a loss. Stringham argues that this shows that contracts can be created and enforced without state sanction or, in this case, in spite of laws to the contrary.


Shareholder

A shareholder (or ''stockholder'') is an
individual An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity. Individuality (or self-hood) is the state or quality of being an individual; particularly (in the case of humans) of being a person unique from other people and possessing one's own need ...
or
company A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity representing an association of people, whether natural, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. Company members share a common purpose and unite to achieve specific, declared go ...
(including a
corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the state to act as a single entity (a legal entity recognized by private and public law "born out of statute"; a legal person in legal context) and re ...
) that legally owns one or more
shares In financial markets, a share is a unit of equity ownership in the capital stock of a corporation, and can refer to units of mutual funds, limited partnerships, and real estate investment trusts. Share capital refers to all of the shares of an ...
of stock in a joint stock company. Both private and public traded companies have shareholders. Shareholders are granted special privileges depending on the class of stock, including the right to vote on matters such as elections to the
board of directors A board of directors (commonly referred simply as the board) is an executive committee that jointly supervises the activities of an organization, which can be either a for-profit or a nonprofit organization such as a business, nonprofit organi ...
, the right to share in distributions of the company's income, the right to purchase new shares issued by the company, and the right to a company's assets during a liquidation of the company. However, shareholder's rights to a company's assets are subordinate to the rights of the company's creditors. Shareholders are one type of stakeholders, who may include anyone who has a direct or indirect equity interest in the
business entity In law, a legal person is any person or 'thing' (less ambiguously, any legal entity) that can do the things a human person is usually able to do in law – such as enter into contracts, sue and be sued, own property, and so on. The reason for ...
or someone with a non-equity interest in a non-profit organization. Thus it might be common to call volunteer contributors to an association stakeholders, even though they are not shareholders. Although directors and officers of a company are bound by fiduciary duties to act in the best interest of the shareholders, the shareholders themselves normally do not have such duties towards each other. However, in a few unusual cases, some courts have been willing to imply such a duty between shareholders. For example, in California, USA, majority shareholders of closely held corporations have a duty not to destroy the value of the shares held by minority shareholders. The largest shareholders (in terms of percentages of companies owned) are often mutual funds, and, especially, passively managed exchange-traded funds.


Application

The owners of a private company may want additional capital to invest in new projects within the company. They may also simply wish to reduce their holding, freeing up capital for their own private use. They can achieve these goals by selling shares in the company to the general public, through a sale on a stock exchange. This process is called an initial public offering, or IPO. By selling shares they can sell part or all of the company to many part-owners. The purchase of one share entitles the owner of that share to literally share in the ownership of the company, a fraction of the decision-making power, and potentially a fraction of the profits, which the company may issue as dividends. The owner may also inherit
debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to another party, the creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, which differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The ...
and even
litigation - A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the civil court of law. The archaic term "suit in law" is found in only a small number of laws still in effect today. The term "lawsuit" is used in reference to a civil actio ...
. In the common case of a publicly traded corporation, where there may be thousands of shareholders, it is impractical to have all of them making the daily decisions required to run a company. Thus, the shareholders will use their shares as votes in the election of members of the
board of directors A board of directors (commonly referred simply as the board) is an executive committee that jointly supervises the activities of an organization, which can be either a for-profit or a nonprofit organization such as a business, nonprofit organi ...
of the company. In a typical case, each share constitutes one vote. Corporations may, however, issue different classes of shares, which may have different voting rights. Owning the majority of the shares allows other shareholders to be out-voted – effective control rests with the majority shareholder (or shareholders acting in concert). In this way the original owners of the company often still have control of the company.


Shareholder rights

Although ownership of 50% of shares does result in 50% ownership of a company, it does not give the shareholder the right to use a company's building, equipment, materials, or other property. This is because the company is considered a legal person, thus it owns all its assets itself. This is important in areas such as insurance, which must be in the name of the company and not the main shareholder. In most countries, boards of directors and company managers have a fiduciary responsibility to run the company in the interests of its stockholders. Nonetheless, as Martin Whitman writes: :...it can safely be stated that there does not exist any publicly traded company where management works exclusively in the best interests of OPMI utside Passive Minority Investorstockholders. Instead, there are both "communities of interest" and "conflicts of interest" between stockholders (principal) and management (agent). This conflict is referred to as the
principal–agent problem The principal–agent problem refers to the conflict in interests and priorities that arises when one person or entity (the "agent") takes actions on behalf of another person or entity (the "principal"). The problem worsens when there is a grea ...
. It would be naive to think that any management would forego management compensation, and management entrenchment, just because some of these management privileges might be perceived as giving rise to a conflict of interest with OPMIs. Even though the board of directors runs the company, the shareholder has some impact on the company's policy, as the shareholders elect the board of directors. Each shareholder typically has a percentage of votes equal to the percentage of shares he or she owns. So as long as the shareholders agree that the management (agent) are performing poorly they can select a new board of directors which can then hire a new management team. In practice, however, genuinely contested board elections are rare. Board candidates are usually nominated by insiders or by the board of the directors themselves, and a considerable amount of stock is held or voted by insiders. Owning shares does not mean responsibility for liabilities. If a company goes broke and has to default on loans, the shareholders are not liable in any way. However, all money obtained by converting assets into cash will be used to repay loans and other debts first, so that shareholders cannot receive any money unless and until creditors have been paid (often the shareholders end up with nothing).


Means of financing

Financing a company through the sale of stock in a company is known as equity financing. Alternatively,
debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to another party, the creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, which differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The ...
financing (for example issuing bonds) can be done to avoid giving up shares of ownership of the company. Unofficial financing known as trade financing usually provides the major part of a company's
working capital Working capital (WC) is a financial metric which represents operating liquidity available to a business, organisation, or other entity, including governmental entities. Along with fixed assets such as plant and equipment, working capital is consi ...
(day-to-day operational needs).


Trading

In general, the shares of a company may be transferred from shareholders to other parties by sale or other mechanisms, unless prohibited. Most jurisdictions have established laws and regulations governing such transfers, particularly if the issuer is a publicly traded entity. The desire of stockholders to trade their shares has led to the establishment of stock exchanges, organizations which provide marketplaces for trading
shares In financial markets, a share is a unit of equity ownership in the capital stock of a corporation, and can refer to units of mutual funds, limited partnerships, and real estate investment trusts. Share capital refers to all of the shares of an ...
and other derivatives and financial products. Today, stock traders are usually represented by a stockbroker who buys and sells shares of a wide range of companies on such exchanges. A company may list its shares on an exchange by meeting and maintaining the listing requirements of a particular stock exchange. Many large non-U.S companies choose to list on a U.S. exchange as well as an exchange in their home country in order to broaden their investor base. These companies must maintain a block of shares at a bank in the US, typically a certain percentage of their capital. On this basis, the holding bank establishes American depositary shares and issues an
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 ...
(ADR) for each share a trader acquires. Likewise, many large U.S. companies list their shares at foreign exchanges to raise capital abroad. Small companies that do not qualify and cannot meet the listing requirements of the major exchanges may be traded over-the-counter (OTC) by an off-exchange mechanism in which trading occurs directly between parties. The major OTC markets in the United States are the electronic quotation systems
OTC Bulletin Board The OTC (Over-The-Counter) Bulletin Board or OTCBB was a United States quotation medium operated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for its subscribing members. FINRA closed the OTCBB on November 8, 2021. The board was used fo ...
(OTCBB) and OTC Markets Group (formerly known as Pink OTC Markets Inc.) where individual retail investors are also represented by a
brokerage firm A broker is a person or firm who arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller for a commission when the deal is executed. A broker who also acts as a seller or as a buyer becomes a principal party to the deal. Neither role should be confus ...
and the quotation service's requirements for a company to be listed are minimal. Shares of companies in bankruptcy proceedings are usually listed by these quotation services after the stock is delisted from an exchange.


Buying

There are various methods of buying and
financing Funding is the act of providing resources to finance a need, program, or project. While this is usually in the form of money, it can also take the form of effort or time from an organization or company. Generally, this word is used when a firm uses ...
stocks, the most common being through a stockbroker. Brokerage firms, whether they are a full-service or discount broker, arrange the transfer of stock from a seller to a buyer. Most trades are actually done through brokers listed with a stock exchange. There are many different brokerage firms from which to choose, such as full service brokers or discount brokers. The full service brokers usually charge more per trade, but give investment advice or more personal service; the discount brokers offer little or no investment advice but charge less for trades. Another type of broker would be a bank or
credit union A credit union, a type of financial institution similar to a commercial bank, is a member-owned nonprofit financial cooperative. Credit unions generally provide services to members similar to retail banks, including deposit accounts, provision ...
that may have a deal set up with either a full-service or discount broker. There are other ways of buying stock besides through a broker. One way is directly from the company itself. If at least one share is owned, most companies will allow the purchase of shares directly from the company through their investor relations departments. However, the initial share of stock in the company will have to be obtained through a regular stock broker. Another way to buy stock in companies is through Direct Public Offerings which are usually sold by the company itself. A direct public offering is an initial public offering in which the stock is purchased directly from the company, usually without the aid of brokers. When it comes to
financing Funding is the act of providing resources to finance a need, program, or project. While this is usually in the form of money, it can also take the form of effort or time from an organization or company. Generally, this word is used when a firm uses ...
a purchase of stocks there are two ways: purchasing stock with money that is currently in the buyer's ownership, or by buying stock on margin. Buying stock on margin means buying stock with money borrowed against the value of stocks in the same account. These stocks, or collateral, guarantee that the buyer can repay the loan; otherwise, the stockbroker has the right to sell the stock (collateral) to repay the borrowed money. He can sell if the
share price A share price is the price of a single share of a number of saleable equity shares of a company. In layman's terms, the stock price is the highest amount someone is willing to pay for the stock, or the lowest amount that it can be bought for. B ...
drops below the margin requirement, at least 50% of the value of the stocks in the account. Buying on margin works the same way as borrowing money to buy a car or a house, using a car or house as collateral. Moreover, borrowing is not free; the broker usually charges 8–10% interest.


Selling

Selling stock is procedurally similar to buying stock. Generally, the investor wants to buy low and sell high, if not in that order (
short selling In finance, being short in an asset means investing in such a way that the investor will profit if the value of the asset falls. This is the opposite of a more conventional "long" position, where the investor will profit if the value of the ...
); although a number of reasons may induce an investor to sell at a loss, e.g., to avoid further loss. As with buying a stock, there is a transaction fee for the broker's efforts in arranging the transfer of stock from a seller to a buyer. This fee can be high or low depending on which type of brokerage, full service or discount, handles the transaction. After the transaction has been made, the seller is then entitled to all of the money. An important part of selling is keeping track of the earnings. Importantly, on selling the stock, in jurisdictions that have them,
capital gains tax A capital gains tax (CGT) is the tax on profits realized on the sale of a non-inventory asset. The most common capital gains are realized from the sale of stocks, bonds, precious metals, real estate, and property. Not all countries impose a ...
es will have to be paid on the additional proceeds, if any, that are in excess of the cost basis.


Short selling

Short selling consists of an investor immediately selling borrowed shares and then buying them back when their price has gone down (called "covering").How an Investor Makes Money Short Selling Stocks
Investopedia.com
Essentially, such an investor bets that the price of the shares will drop so that they can be bought back at the lower price and thus returned to the lender at a profit.


Risks of short selling

The risks of short selling stock are usually higher than those of buying stock. This is because the loss can theoretically be unlimited since the stock's value can theoretically go up indefinitely.


Stock price fluctuations

The price of a stock fluctuates fundamentally due to the theory of supply and demand. Like all commodities in the market, the price of a stock is sensitive to demand. However, there are many factors that influence the demand for a particular stock. The fields of
fundamental analysis Fundamental analysis, in accounting and finance, is the analysis of a business's financial statements (usually to analyze the business's assets, liabilities, and earnings); health; and competitors and markets. It also considers the overall state ...
and technical analysis attempt to understand market conditions that lead to price changes, or even predict future price levels. A recent study shows that customer satisfaction, as measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), is significantly correlated to the market value of a stock. Stock price may be influenced by analysts' business forecast for the company and outlooks for the company's general market segment. Stocks can also fluctuate greatly due to
pump and dump Pump and dump (P&D) is a form of securities fraud that involves artificially inflating the price of an owned stock through false and misleading positive statements, in order to sell the cheaply purchased stock at a higher price. Once the opera ...
scams. Also see
List of S&P 600 companies This is a list of companies having stocks that are included in the S&P SmallCap 600. The S&P 600 is an index of small-cap company stocks created by Standard & Poor's. The index is weighted by float-adjusted market capitalization (companies with h ...
.


Share price determination

At any given moment, an equity's price is strictly a result of supply and demand. The supply, commonly referred to as the ''
float Float may refer to: Arts and entertainment Music Albums * ''Float'' (Aesop Rock album), 2000 * ''Float'' (Flogging Molly album), 2008 * ''Float'' (Styles P album), 2013 Songs * "Float" (Tim and the Glory Boys song), 2022 * "Float", by Bush ...
'', is the number of shares offered for sale at any one moment. The demand is the number of shares investors wish to buy at exactly that same time. The price of the stock moves in order to achieve and maintain equilibrium. The product of this instantaneous price and the float at any one time is the market capitalization of the entity offering the equity at that point in time. When prospective buyers outnumber sellers, the price rises. Eventually, sellers attracted to the high selling price enter the market and/or buyers leave, achieving equilibrium between buyers and sellers. When sellers outnumber buyers, the price falls. Eventually buyers enter and/or sellers leave, again achieving equilibrium. Thus, the value of a share of a company at any given moment is determined by all investors voting with their money. If more investors want a stock and are willing to pay more, the price will go up. If more investors are selling a stock and there aren't enough buyers, the price will go down. * Note: "For Nasdaq-listed stocks, the price quote includes information on the bid and ask prices for the stock." That does not explain how people decide the maximum price at which they are willing to buy or the minimum at which they are willing to sell. In professional investment circles the
efficient market hypothesis The efficient-market hypothesis (EMH) is a hypothesis in financial economics that states that asset prices reflect all available information. A direct implication is that it is impossible to "beat the market" consistently on a risk-adjusted bas ...
(EMH) continues to be popular, although this theory is widely discredited in academic and professional circles. Briefly, EMH says that investing is overall (weighted by the standard deviation) rational; that the price of a stock at any given moment represents a rational evaluation of the known information that might bear on the future value of the company; and that share prices of equities are priced ''efficiently'', which is to say that they represent accurately the
expected value In probability theory, the expected value (also called expectation, expectancy, mathematical expectation, mean, average, or first moment) is a generalization of the weighted average. Informally, the expected value is the arithmetic mean of a l ...
of the stock, as best it can be known at a given moment. In other words, prices are the result of discounting expected future cash flows. The EMH model, if true, has at least two interesting consequences. First, because financial
risk In simple terms, risk is the possibility of something bad happening. Risk involves uncertainty about the effects/implications of an activity with respect to something that humans value (such as health, well-being, wealth, property or the environme ...
is presumed to require at least a small premium on expected value, the
return on equity The return on equity (ROE) is a measure of the profitability of a business in relation to the equity. Because shareholder's equity can be calculated by taking all assets and subtracting all liabilities, ROE can also be thought of as a return on '' ...
can be expected to be slightly greater than that available from non-equity investments: if not, the same rational calculations would lead equity investors to shift to these safer non-equity investments that could be expected to give the same or better return at lower risk. Second, because the price of a share at every given moment is an "efficient" reflection of expected value, then—relative to the curve of expected return—prices will tend to follow a
random walk In mathematics, a random walk is a random process that describes a path that consists of a succession of random steps on some mathematical space. An elementary example of a random walk is the random walk on the integer number line \mathbb Z ...
, determined by the emergence of information (randomly) over time. Professional equity investors therefore immerse themselves in the flow of fundamental information, seeking to gain an advantage over their competitors (mainly other professional investors) by more intelligently interpreting the emerging flow of information (news). The EMH model does not seem to give a complete description of the process of equity price determination. For example, stock markets are more volatile than EMH would imply. In recent years it has come to be accepted that the share markets are not perfectly efficient, perhaps especially in emerging markets or other markets that are not dominated by well-informed professional investors. Another theory of share price determination comes from the field of
Behavioral Finance Behavioral economics studies the effects of psychological, cognitive, emotional, cultural and social factors on the decisions of individuals or institutions, such as how those decisions vary from those implied by classical economic theory. ...
. According to Behavioral Finance, humans often make irrational decisions—particularly, related to the buying and selling of securities—based upon fears and misperceptions of outcomes. The irrational trading of securities can often create securities prices which vary from rational, fundamental price valuations. For instance, during the technology bubble of the late 1990s (which was followed by the dot-com bust of 2000–2002), technology companies were often bid beyond any rational fundamental value because of what is commonly known as the " greater fool theory". The "greater fool theory" holds that, because the predominant method of realizing returns in equity is from the sale to another investor, one should select securities that they believe that someone else will value at a higher level at some point in the future, without regard to the basis for that other party's willingness to pay a higher price.Thus, even a rational investor may bank on others' irrationality.


Arbitrage trading

When companies raise capital by offering stock on more than one exchange, the potential exists for discrepancies in the valuation of shares on different exchanges. A keen investor with access to information about such discrepancies may invest in expectation of their eventual convergence, known as
arbitrage In economics and finance, arbitrage (, ) is the practice of taking advantage of a difference in prices in two or more markets; striking a combination of matching deals to capitalise on the difference, the profit being the difference between th ...
trading.
Electronic trading 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 ...
has resulted in extensive price transparency ( efficient-market hypothesis) and these discrepancies, if they exist, are short-lived and quickly equilibrated.


See also

*
Arrangements between railroads Railway companies can interact with and control others in many ways. These relationships can be complicated by bankruptcies. Operating Often, when a railroad first opens, it is only a short spur of a main line. The owner of the spur line may co ...
* Boiler room * Bucket shop * Buying in (securities) * Concentrated stock *
Employee stock ownership Employee stock ownership, or employee share ownership, is where a company's employees own shares in that company (or in the parent company of a group of companies). US employees typically acquire shares through a share option plan. In the UK, Em ...
*
Equity investment A stock trader or equity trader or share trader, also called a stock investor, is a person or company involved in trading equity securities and attempting to profit from the purchase and sale of those securities. Stock traders may be an invest ...
* GICS *
Golden share In business and finance, a golden share is a nominal share which is able to outvote all other shares in certain specified circumstances, often held by a government organization, in a government company undergoing the process of privatization and tr ...
* House stock *
Insider trading Insider trading is the trading of a public company's stock or other securities (such as bonds or stock options) based on material, nonpublic information about the company. In various countries, some kinds of trading based on insider information ...
* Money managers * Naked short selling *
Penny stock Penny stocks are common shares of small public companies that trade for less than one dollar per share. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) uses the term "Penny stock" to refer to a security, a financial instrument which represents ...
* Scripophily * Social ownership *
Stock and flow Economics, business, accounting, and related fields often distinguish between quantities that are stocks and those that are flows. These differ in their units of measurement. A ''stock'' is measured at one specific time, and represents a quantity e ...
* Stock dilution *
Stock valuation In financial markets, stock valuation is the method of calculating theoretical values of companies and their stocks. The main use of these methods is to predict future market prices, or more generally, potential market prices, and thus to profit f ...
* Stock token * Stub (stock) * Tracking stock * Treasury stock * Traditional and alternative investments *
Voting interest Voting interest (or voting power) in business and accounting means the total number, or percent, of votes entitled to be cast on the issue at the time the determination of voting power is made, excluding a vote which is contingent upon the happenin ...


References


Further reading

* * *'' Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!'', by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. Warner Business Books, 2000. * * * * * *


External links

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