Stocks (or shares, or equities) are a fundamental part of many investors’ plan to build wealth. But while stocks are widely accepted as one of the core tools for growing savings, it’s important to understand their role in a balanced investment portfolio.
A stock is a financial security that represents partial ownership in a company. Purchasing a share of stock gives you a proportional claim on the company’s net assets and future earnings. It also allows you to vote in the company’s decisions and receive annual learn reports to get a better sense of its success as a business.
While stocks have a history of high returns, they are not without risk. As a result, they are usually considered long-term investments. Stocks are subject to frequent price fluctuations based on market sentiment and a variety of other unforeseen factors. These price fluctuations can make it difficult to determine what a particular company is worth at any given time.
Companies raise capital by selling shares of stock to investors. The proceeds of these sales are used to grow the business or pay off debt. In some cases, the company may even choose to pay dividends to shareholders. Investors purchase the shares of stock in the hopes that the company’s value will increase, allowing them to sell the stock at a higher price than they paid for it.
Different types of stocks are available to suit different investors’ needs and tolerance for risk. For example, growth stocks are associated with companies that have stock prices that are significantly above what the company’s earnings are. Investors purchase growth stocks in the hope that the company will eventually regain the favor of investors and have its stock price catch up to its earnings. However, there’s no guarantee that will happen, which makes growth stocks a more risky investment.
In addition, stocks can be classified based on the size of a company’s outstanding shares. This is known as the company’s market capitalization. The largest companies are often referred to as large-cap stocks, while smaller companies are called small- or mid-cap stocks.
Lastly, stocks can be divided into categories based on their sector. Cyclical stocks, for example, are associated with businesses that experience major fluctuations in demand. These are companies like manufacturers, travel agencies and luxury goods retailers, whose stocks can plummet during economic downturns when consumers cut back on these purchases. Non-cyclical stocks, on the other hand, are those that operate in industries with steady, consistent demand. These include grocery stores, which can thrive during both good and bad economies.