What is a stock? The stock market works like an auction house where traders buy and sell shares of stocks. More often than not, share prices reflect opinions. Opinions of the company’s value, what it “might” be worth, etc. Traders who think the company’s outlook looks promising bid the price up. Those who believe it will do poorly bid the price down.
Did you know that The Dutch East India Company was the first reported issuer of common stock? In 1602, the company issued shares to raise the funds needed for their operation.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Stock?
- Why Traders Like to Own Stocks
- Two Stock Classifications
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Stock?
In the simplest terms, a stock is a security representing a portion of the ownership of a business. Another term that is frequently used instead of ownership is ‘equity.’
More importantly, a single stock unit is known as a share, and corporations sell shares to raise operating capital. Stock market classes for beginners can help you understand how to trade.
How Does the Stock Market Work?
To purchase or sell stocks, traders and investors can use one of several stock exchanges in various countries or participate in a private sale. For many investors, these shares form the basis of an investment portfolio.
Day traders buy and sell stocks on the same trading day. Ultimately, the end goal is the same: to make money.
The government usually regulates transactions to protect from fraudulent practices. These investments’ performance is often better than most other investments and can be acquired from most online stockbrokers.
However, please be careful when opening a brokerage account in a country with loose or no regulations.
Whichever stock you purchase, you’ll want a broker with a reputation for fast and accurate order execution, low commission costs, and cutting-edge tools.
Do I Own the Stock?
The short answer is no. It is essential to understand that those who own stock in a company do not technically “own” the company.
Instead, shareholders may be entitled to a portion of their earnings depending on the type of shares owned. As you may know, if you own stock in dividend-paying companies, some pay a nice quarterly payout.
Why Do People Buy Stocks?
People buy stocks because they want to make short-term or long-term money. Buying low and selling high is important, which means purchasing stocks on a dip or a reversal. You can trade a stock split, earnings, news, rumors, etc. Know your risk management, strategy, and price target to know if you want to buy a stock or wait.
Understanding the difference between owning shares and owning a business is important. As a legal person, a corporation can borrow money, file taxes, and own property, including corporate offices and equipment. Other persons or businesses can also sue a corporation.
Property owned by the corporation is distinct from the shareholder‘s property. This distinction limits the liability of those who own shares and the corporation. Now, this distinction comes into play if the corporation declares bankruptcy.
The judge can order the company to sell all its assets, but the personal assets of any shareholders are not at risk. Conversely, if one of the major shareholders goes into bankruptcy, the assets of a corporation cannot be sold to pay off the creditors of this shareholder.
Separation of Control and Ownership
To restate the ownership issue, shareholders own shares issued by the corporate entity, while the corporation owns its assets.
An investor with one-third of a company’s available shares doesn’t own one-third of the business; instead, the shareholder owns 100 percent of the firm’s shares.
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Why Traders Like to Own Stocks
- Voting rights
- Making money
1. Voting Rights
Now that you know what a stock is, let’s move on to the benefits of stock ownership. When you own stock in a company, certain rights and benefits come with ownership.
You can attend and vote in shareholders’ meetings. You can receive financial profits that come in dividends if and when dividends are issued and distributed. As the percentage or number of share ownership increases, the voting power also increases. At the same time, this allows the shareholder to control (indirectly) the firm’s direction in question.
The firm’s shareholders’ control is handled through the make-up of the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is responsible for increasing the corporation’s value. Usually, professional officers or managers manage the day-to-day operations of a company. At the same time, when a company is sold, the transfer of ownership occurs through the transfer of shares.
2. Making Money
Stock ownership also brings the right to sell shares to another person or company for profit! That’s where the wonderful world of day and swing trading comes in. Traders can make money trading stocks. They can also lose it.
For most stockholders, the process of managing a company is not their end goal. The advantage of being a shareholder is in two areas.
Firstly, the shareholder may be entitled to a part of a company’s profit, often periodic dividends. Owning more shares means more profits from dividends—however, not all corporations issue dividend payments.
Instead, the corporate profits are invested back into the company. Secondly, this increasing value of these corporate retained earnings means that the value of their stock increases.
Two Stock Classifications
As I mentioned above, your rights depend on your stock type. For starters, there are two different stock classifications: Common and preferred.
First, the owners of common stocks can typically exercise voting rights at shareholder’s meetings. Not only can they vote, but common shareholders also have the right to the dividends issued by the firm. Yay, money!!!!!
On the other hand, the other classification of stocks is ‘preferred.’ These shareholders have a higher priority claim on corporate earnings than common shareholders.
Dividends go to preferred stockholders before common stockholders. In the unfortunate scenario that the corporation goes bankrupt, preferred shareholders have priority.
Companies can issue additional shares to raise cash for equipment purchases, expansions, or other operational costs.
But this doesn’t come without consequences. The negative side to such an action is that the existing shareholders’ rights and ownership become diluted (unless they choose to purchase any of the new shares).
Alternatively, corporations can choose to buy back shares. This action would benefit those shareholders who are already on corporate books, as the value of their shares would increase.
Final Thoughts: What Is a Stock?
You must invest time and effort if you’re serious about learning how the stock market works. By practicing diligently and honing your technique–making a living from day trading is within grasp.
It takes about six months to a year of hard work before you start seeing those consistent profits (which may be minuscule in the first year).
Like life, consistently profitable in the stock market is not a destination. You don’t become profitable and then get to relax.
Frequently Asked Questions
A stock is owning a stake in the company. When you own shares, you have a small ownership of that company.
It's the share you buy for profit. You have some ownership in a company, but you can buy and sell that for a profit or loss if you don't know what you're doing.
Stocks make money through capital gains. Ideally, you want to buy low and sell high for a profit.
A stock is what you buy from the market. Examples of that would be Amazon ($AMZN), Apple ($APPL), and Netflix ($NFLX).