Thursday, March 16, 2023

Stocks: Meaning, types, how they work, and more

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Adetunji Matthew
Adetunji Matthew
I’m Adetunji Matthew, an Economist, Social Media Manager, software Developer/Marketer Sales Consultant, and Ecompreneur. I’m popularly known as “Matt” As an artist and designer, I aim to create something brilliant daily. Eager to learn more, I use my free time to get better at w hat interests me, whether it's researching, teaching, or even something entirely new.
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The world of business is largely influenced by investments pooled into corporations to undertake certain transactions or deliverables in accordance with its objectives. Every company requires capital at one point in its existence to run itself, a company, to source for capital, companies issue shares to investors to own stakes in the business. 

The investments made by investors in exchange for shares offers the company numerous benefits to leverage the economic impacts of the society and build itself into a thriving business using the funds provided. This article seeks to relay all there is to know about stocks in a company. 

Meaning of stocks

Stocks, also known as equities, are a type of investment that represents ownership in a company. When an individual buys a stock, they become a shareholder in the company and are entitled to a portion of its profits and assets. Companies issue stocks as a way to raise capital for business operations or expansion. The stock market is where these stocks are bought and sold by investors.

Also Read: Supply and demand: Definition and all that you need to know

How do stocks work?

When a company decides to issue stocks, it goes public by offering shares to the general public in an Initial Public Offering (IPO). These shares can then be traded on a stock exchange, the value of a stock is determined by supply and demand on the market. The more people who want to buy a stock, the higher the price will be. Conversely, if more people want to sell a stock, the price will drop.

As a shareholder, you have a right to vote on certain company matters, such as the election of board members and major corporate decisions like mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, you may also receive dividends, which are a portion of the company’s profits paid out to shareholders regularly.

It’s important to note that when you invest in stocks, your money is at risk. The value of stocks can fluctuate greatly and can even become worthless if the company goes bankrupt. However, over the long term, stocks have historically provided higher returns than other types of investments like bonds or savings accounts. It’s essential to do your research and diversify your portfolio to minimize risk.

Types of stocks

When it comes to stocks, there are two main types: 

  • Common stock and 
  • Preferred stock.

Both types represent ownership in a company, but they have some key differences.

1. Common stock

This is the most common type of stock and is what most people think of when they hear the word “stock.” When you buy common stock, you become a shareholder in the company and have a right to vote on certain company matters, such as the election of board members. 

Common shareholders are entitled to a portion of the company’s profits in the form of dividends. Common stock also has the potential for significant value growth, as the price of the stock can increase if the company performs well.

2. Preferred stock

This is a type of stock that has a higher claim on the company’s assets and earnings than common stock. Preferred shareholders typically do not have voting rights, but they have a priority over common shareholders when it comes to receiving dividends and in the event of the company’s liquidation. Preferred stock also generally has a fixed dividend, meaning that the dividend does not fluctuate with the company’s performance, unlike common stock dividends.

Preferred stockholders have a higher claim on assets and earnings than common shareholders, but they have fewer rights, such as voting rights. Preferred stockholders are also typically paid a fixed dividend, which is not affected by the company’s performance.

Both common and preferred stocks have their unique characteristics and different level of risk and rewards. It’s important to understand the differences between the two types of stocks and choose the one that aligns with your investment goals and risk tolerance.

Also Read: Asset: Meaning, types, classification and more

The process of buying and selling stocks

The process of buying and selling stocks is relatively straightforward. To purchase stocks, an individual must open a brokerage account with a brokerage firm.

Once the account is set up, the individual can place an order to buy stocks through the brokerage’s trading platform. The price of the stock at the time the order is placed is known as the “market price.” When the order is executed, the individual becomes a shareholder of the company. 

To sell stocks, the process is similar, the individual places a sell order through the brokerage’s trading platform and the shares are sold at the current market price. It’s important to note that the process can be subject to commissions and fees, so it’s important to check these with your broker.

These days, there are apps that you can install on your phone to buy and sell stocks anytime.

The risks and potential rewards of investing in stocks

Investing in stocks carries both risks and potential rewards. On the positive side, stocks have the potential for significant value growth. Over the long term, stocks have historically provided higher returns than other types of investments like bonds or savings accounts. Additionally, owning stocks can also provide a steady stream of income through dividends.

However, it’s important to understand that investing in stocks also carries risks. The value of stocks can fluctuate greatly and can even become worthless if the company goes bankrupt. Economic downturns, natural disasters, and other external factors can also negatively impact the stock market and cause a decline in the value of stocks. Additionally, the stock market is subject to volatility, and prices can fluctuate wildly in a short time.

It’s also important to note that no investment is guaranteed success, and past performance is not an indicator of future results. To minimize risk, it’s important to diversify your portfolio by investing in a variety of stocks, bonds, and other assets. Additionally, it’s always important to do your research and invest in companies that have a strong business model and a history of solid performance.

Also Read: Shareholder: Meaning, rights, types and more

Tips for successful stock investing

If you’re considering investing in stocks, here are a few tips to help increase your chances of success:

  1. Diversify your portfolio: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Spread your investments across a variety of companies and industries to minimize risk.
  2. Do your research: Before investing in a stock, research the company’s financials, management, and industry trends. Look for companies with strong fundamentals and a history of solid performance.
  3. Invest for the long-term: The stock market can be volatile in the short term, but over the long term, it has historically provided higher returns than other types of investments.
  4. Have a plan and stick to it: Develop a strategy for buying and selling stocks, and stick to it. Don’t get caught up in market fluctuations and make impulsive decisions.
  5. Be patient: Investing in stocks is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time for your investments to grow. Be patient and don’t sell your stocks too soon.
  6. Keep emotions in check: Don’t let fear or greed drive your investment decisions. Stick to your plan and stay focused on your long-term goals.
  7. Stay informed and educated: Keep an eye on the market trends and stay informed about the companies you are investing in.

Also Read: Auditor: Meaning, appointments, duties, and more


To be successful in stock investing, it’s important to do your research, invest for the long term, have a plan and stick to it, keep emotions in check and stay informed and educated. With these tips in mind, stocks can be a valuable addition to any investment portfolio.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Are stocks transferable?

Yes, a stock could be sold in the capital market by the stockholder.

Is stock a personal property of the stockholder or the company?

Yes, stocks are personal properties of the stockholders and not the company. 


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