What are Equities?
Equities are stocks or shares that represent ownership in a company. Investing in equities provides an opportunity to earn returns through capital appreciation as the share price rises over time and through dividends paid out from company profits. There are a few main types of equity investments to be aware of:
Common stocks are the most basic type of equity investment. Each share of common stock represents partial ownership in a company and entitles the owner to a vote at shareholder meetings.
Common stockholders have a residual claim on company assets and earnings after debt holders and preferred shareholders are paid. Owning common stock means sharing in the profits and growth of a company through rising stock prices and dividend payments.
However, common stocks also come with the most risk as common shareholders suffer the largest losses if a company struggles or goes bankrupt. The value of common stocks rises and falls based on company performance and overall stock market conditions.
Overall, common stock offers the greatest potential for appreciation but also the highest level of risk compared to other equity types.
Preferred stocks are equity investments that have rights ahead of common stockholders but after debt holders. Preferred shareholders receive dividends at a fixed rate before any dividends are paid to common shareholders.
The fixed dividend provides a steady income stream for preferred shareholders. If the company goes bankrupt, preferred shareholders have priority over common stockholders and are paid off before common shareholders receive any remaining assets.
However, preferred shareholders usually do not have voting rights in company elections and decisions. Preferred stocks involve less risk than common stocks but still carry more risk than bonds and debt instruments.
Preferreds appeal to investors looking for higher yields than bonds without the volatility of the common stock.
Convertible Preferred Stocks
Convertible preferred stock can be exchanged for a set number of common shares after a predetermined period, usually 3-5 years. It acts like preferred stock, paying fixed dividends and having priority over common stock for company assets and earnings.
But convertible preferreds also give the option to convert the preferred shares into common stock to benefit from share price appreciation. Investors in convertible preferred stock can earn a steady income from dividends while waiting to convert and profit from a higher common stock price.
Convertible preferreds offer lower volatility than common stock along with the potential for capital gains if the stock price rises. The flexibility of convertible preferred stock comes with moderate risk, making it appealing for investors wanting equity exposure with some downside protection.
Equities involve buying shares of ownership in a company. Common stocks provide voting rights but are the riskiest type of equity investment. Preferred stocks offer more consistent income and priority over common stocks for assets and dividends. Convertible preferreds have features of both preferred stock and common stock.