One way of making your money grow is investing in the stock market. Stocks are how companies grow without securing bank loans. The investor buys the company stock (shares) and receives interest in the form of stock dividends. Share holders can affect the operation of a company. Each year, there is a share holders meeting and different issues are presented for the share holders to vote on. The greater the number of shares that an investor has, the greater the number of votes the stock holder can exercise.
There are several categories of stocks. Income stocks provide revenue to the stock holders in the form of dividends. Growth stocks are shares sold by companies that reinvest their profits to increase the size of the company. You can invest in stocks online, through stock market investors or directly, as in the case of Coca Cola and a number of other companies. Some companies provide their employees with stock options allowing them to purchase stocks at a given price for a particular period of time. There are also Over the Counter Stocks. These are not listed on any exchange and are sold by smaller, riskier companies that do not meet the requirements of the exchanges.
There are a number of reasons why stocks rise and fall in value. If a company is doing well, the value of a stock will increase. Conversely, if a company is not doing well, its stock prices may fall. Other factors affect the market value of shares. The price of crude oil will affect the market value. Disasters or wars will force prices downward. The introduction of new federal regulations for an industry will have an impact, depending on how the legislation affects production. Changes in company management also have an affect on stock prices.
Stock brokers buy and sell stocks on behalf of investors. They also provide information to their clients regarding the best times to buy and sell based on the market value of the stocks and whether they are rising or falling in value. Today anyone can be a stock broker thanks to the internet. Investment companies permit their clients to use their services to research a stock or give advice on buying and selling. The investor is then able to purchase or sell stocks online at a cost of so much per “trade.”
Everyday the stock averages are compiled and made public. The Dow Jones Industrial Average provides details on 30 large industrial stocks, including General Motors, Goodyear, IBM and Exxon. The Standard and Poor 500 Index provides averages for 500 large companies. There are three major stock exchanges in the United States. These include NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations), Amex (American Stock Exchange) and the New York Stock Exchange.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) protect investors; maintains fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and facilitates capital formation. It mandates that companies provide financial information to individuals before they buy stock and to continue providing relevant financial information as long as the investor holds the stock. The SEC also oversees securities exchanges, securities brokers and dealers, investment advisors and mutual funds. The SEC has an obligation to enforce the nation’s securities laws. Each year hundreds of actions are taken against individuals and companies for insider trading, accounting fraud, and providing false or misleading information about securities and the companies that issue them.
The SEC works closely with Congress, other federal departments and agencies, the stock exchanges, state securities regulators, and various private sector organizations.