Who wouldn't want to have bought in at ground-floor prices of companies before they became big and successful? That's the hope of many penny stock investors. If you've never heard of penny stocks or are considering investing in them, here are some of the key things to think about.
In practice, you might come across several definitions of a penny stock. Some investors consider penny stocks to be those that trade for less than $1 and/or over the counter on the OTC Bulletin Board. You may see penny stocks referred to as micro-cap stocks at Fidelity (or as "small companies" elsewhere).
Investors who like penny stocks perceive them as having several attractive features: the low stock price, which allows investors to buy a relatively large number of shares, and the potential for quick gains." Some penny stock investors may buy tens of thousands of shares for a relatively low amount of money, hoping that the price will rise sharply over a short period of time. But there is much more to think about when it comes to penny stocks.
It's important to know the risks of penny stocks because of the greater potential for loss associated with these types of investments, compared with established companies that trade on larger exchanges.
Less stringent disclosure requirements can make penny stocks particularly susceptible to illegal "pump-and-dump" schemes where unscrupulous investors buy the stock, actively promote only its virtues (e.g., "pump it up"), and then, if the stock price appreciates, sell it (e.g., "dump") at an artificially inflated price. Because they are often small in size, penny stock companies do not receive the same level of media and analyst coverage as larger, public companies, so it can be difficult for investors to determine the validity of claims made by pump-and-dump schemers. Unfortunately, those who bought the stock at the high end could be left high and dry.
Additionally, penny stocks can have low liquidity. Many penny stocks are thinly traded. When buying or selling a stock that has low trading volume, investors may not be able to do so at their desired price or time, and that can be costly. Low liquidity is a contributing factor to potentially high bid-ask spreads for penny stocks. This means that, relative to most stocks traded on the Nasdaq or the NYSE, the cost of trading these stocks is typically higher.
Of course, there is the potential to make money investing in penny stocks. However, penny stock investors are taking on a dramatic increase in potential price volatility and risk; there is an even stronger chance that investing in penny stocks could result in losing part or all of your investment. The bottom line is this: Investing in penny stocks entails significantly more risk compared with investing in established companies.
Penny stocks are public companies that have a current share price of $1.00 or less. These companies are listed on major stock exchanges and have market capitalizations of under $100 million. Many investors are attracted to penny stock investments because their low share prices suggest a strong possible upside. The table below lists public companies with share prices under $1.00 that have had the highest trading volume during the most recent trading day. Learn more about penny stocks.
So, what is a penny stock? The definition has changed over the years. Originally a penny stock was a stock trading for less than $1. Some investors still believe that a stock is only a penny stock if it trades for $1 or less, but you have more choices today regarding securities considered penny stocks.
While you can find many penny stock listings on major U.S. exchanges such as the NYSE or Nasdaq, other penny stocks don't qualify for those exchanges and are listed over the counter (OTC). You can find those OTC penny stock listings at OTC Markets or on the Pink Open Market, dubbed the Pink Sheets. That nickname originated because quotes for penny stocks were once printed on pink paper.
Pink sheet companies are typically more speculative due to low liquidity and reduced regulatory oversight. Stocks listed on the OTC Markets aren't necessarily penny stocks; many large companies, such as Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche Holding AG (OTCMKTS: RHHBY) are listed over the counter. But you'll also find many low-priced stocks among the OTC listings and invest penny stock options.
Are penny stocks worth it? However you define penny stocks, it's not tough to see why they are attractive. Penny stocks offer the potential for a high return with a relatively minimal investment. For example, say you find a stock priced at 50 cents. If you wanted to make a 50% profit, you'd only need the stock's price to reach 75 cents.
Don't make the mistake of believing large caps such as Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) began life as penny stocks. When looking at a stock's history, you may see split-adjusted prices that make it seem like a stock was trading under $1 at one point. In Walmart's case, it made its public debut at $16.50 in 1970.
Penny stocks frequently have a low float of shares available to the public, and especially with little-known companies, few traders are bidding for those shares. Getting a stock at the price you want is relatively easy.
In addition, they generally have a very small market capitalization, meaning their outstanding shares' value is low. These companies can offer the potential for sensational growth and increase investor risk. A small market cap means a lack of liquidity. Penny stocks are often more difficult to sell quickly, as fewer interested investors are on the other side of the trade.
Institutional-quality stocks generally have some positive aspects when it comes to their fundamentals. Many have growing revenue and earnings, or at least the potential for growth in the foreseeable future.
Penny stocks, in contrast, often fall short on those points. It's not unusual to see unprofitable penny-stock companies, and many have little or no revenue. They may not yet have a product or service available for purchase or haven't yet gotten any customers.
Pump-and-dump occurs when a promoter pressures investors, usually gullible people or those with little knowledge about the stock market, to put money into highly speculative stocks that the promoter already owns, having bought for a much lower price. After unsuspecting investors have piled in, the promoter sells shares at a profit, leaving other buyers in the lurch as the price drops.
It's common to see these schemes promoted in penny-stock newsletters and online platforms. If you are looking for good penny stocks, always use caution and read the fine print when you discover a recommendation.
Even if a company is a legitimate enterprise and trades on a major U.S. exchange but happens to be low-priced, there's often little coverage from either Wall Street analysts or the financial and business media. If you can't find much information about stocks, they may not be appropriate penny stocks to buy now.
Penny stocks are the poster children of volatility. In general, a lower market capitalization translates to higher volatility. That's even true of small caps listed on major exchanges and whose market capitalizations hover at around the $2 billion mark.
But it's a whole different ball game for penny stocks, which can notch big price moves in either direction during a single trading day. The percentage move can be deceptive because the stocks' prices are so low.
If you're accustomed to buying and selling stocks listed on major exchanges, you may not appreciate the importance of liquidity. When you're getting in or out of a stock, you want to get the exactly price you want, especially if you're a trader. That level of price precision, within pennies, is far less important to an investor with a longer time horizon.
But for traders, low liquidity makes closing a trade at a particular price tougher. Low liquidity results in fewer buyers and sellers, meaning a trader who wants to sell shares at 10 cents apiece may not find buyers at that price and may be forced to accept nine cents. In the world of penny stocks, that could be a significant difference.
In addition, low liquidity is a factor that can make penny stocks ripe for manipulation. That can occur when a stock's price is artificially inflated, with fraudsters selling to pocket gains, while their unsuspecting customers suffer losses. It's difficult to manipulate stocks on the major exchanges with greater liquidity and regulatory oversight.
For starters, have a set amount you are willing and able to lose. Yes, that sounds like a plan for the casino floor at Ceasar's, but you should treat penny stock trading the same way. Only bet a lot of money on penny stocks, hoping to retire on your riches, pay off debt or reach some other goal. Treat penny stock trading as entertainment and budget accordingly.
Only trade penny stocks listed on major exchanges, such as the Nasdaq and NYSE. There, you'll find many low-priced stocks, frequently trading below $5, that actually have revenue and earnings and are subject to SEC regulation. Sometimes these stocks of solid companies were beaten down by a company-specific event or a broad market downturn. Focusing on these higher-quality stocks can reduce the risk of pump-and-dump schemes and minimize volatility.
Only trade penny stocks that are available with a major brokerage, such as Schwab or Fidelity. Be sure the broker you use is licensed by regulatory authorities, including FINRA, and is registered with the SEC. That information will be on the broker's Web site, or you can call and ask for documentation. By using these reputable brokers, you also avoid outsized commissions and fees.
The penny stocks on the OTC Markets are still not listed on any of the major exchanges, but they must meet some minimum requirements. All of this means that you, as an investor, will lack information, meaning the OTC Markets and the Pink Sheets are not the best places to find penny stocks to watch. 59ce067264