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Learning How To Buy Stocks And Sell [EXCLUSIVE]

Direct purchase plans are almost always administered by third parties, rather than the companies themselves. The two most common direct purchase plan administrators are ComputerShare and American Stock Transfer & Trust Company (AST). Both firms charge additional fees for direct purchase plans. In contrast, most online brokers charge zero commissions to buy and sell shares of stock.

learning how to buy stocks and sell

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Full-service brokers provide well-heeled clients with a broad variety of financial services, from retirement planning and tax preparation to estate planning. They also can help you buy stocks. The trouble is full-service brokers charge steep commissions compared to online brokers.

For wealthy individuals without a lot of extra time to stay on top of their complicated financial lives, full-service brokers offer special treatment as well as a high level of trust. If all you want to do is buy stocks, a direct purchase plan or an online brokerage is a better choice.

There are thousands of different publicly traded companies offering shares of stock on the market. That makes it daunting to decide which stocks to buy. One way to think about researching the stocks you want to buy is to adopt a well-thought out strategy, like buying growth stocks or buying a portfolio of dividend stocks.

Whichever strategy you choose, finding the stocks you want to buy can still be challenging. Stock screeners help you narrow down your list of potential stocks to buy and offer an endless range of filters to screen out all the companies that do not meet your parameters. Nearly all online brokerage accounts offer stock screeners, and there are more than a few free versions available online.

With a stock screener, you can filter for small-cap stocks or large-cap stocks or view lists of companies with declining share prices and stocks that are at all-time highs. They also generally let you search for stocks by industry or market sector. Filtering by P/E ratio is a great way to find shares that are overpriced or underpriced.

If you do decide to give your broker the sell order, be sure you understand the tax consequences first. If the stock price has gone up since when you first bought it, you may have to pay capital gains taxes. Gains on shares you owned for a year or less are subject to the higher ordinary income tax rate, up to 37%, depending on your income. Shares sold after more than a year get taxed at the lower long-term capital gains rate of 0% to 20% in 2020.

Before you can start purchasing stocks, you need to select a brokerage account to do it through. You can choose to go with a trading platform offered by a traditional financial company like Fidelity, Schwab or Vanguard, or you can look at online brokers like Ally or Robinhood.

In order to continue growing your investments and to build real wealth, set up an automatic transfer to your brokerage account so you're regularly contributing over time. Remember that money you invest in individual stocks should be money you can afford to lose since there's always some risk.

A market order means you're buying the shares at the best available current market price when you place the order. Market orders are best when you're buying just a few shares or buying large, blue-chip stocks whose prices don't fluctuate drastically.

A limit order means you're buying the shares at your specified price or better, leaving you in more control of what you pay. With a limit order, the trade may not happen if the price doesn't get to where you want it. Limit orders are best if you're trading a large number of shares or for smaller stocks that have greater price volatility.

Money you invest in individual stocks should be money you are comfortable having tied up for at least the next five years. To maximize your returns, your best bet is to hold for the long term, especially during times of volatility.

While investing in individual stocks isn't for everyone, determining your strategy ahead of time can make it less vexing, says Michael Antonelli, managing director and equity sales trader at Baird, a Milwaukee-based investment bank.

"It's important to know the risks before tackling a task that can be both exciting and frustrating at the same time," he says. "Not only are you up against other humans, but you are also up against algorithms and computers that can make buy and sell trades in a fraction of a second."

In active management, specific stocks are picked to outperform the market. The catch is that the returns are uncertain and volatility is a constant risk. Choosing stocks can be a fool's errand and remains extremely challenging.

Distinguishing between a trade and an investment before buying a stock is important, McCoy says. A trade of a stock is short term, lasting anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days. In contrast, stocks held longer are considered an investment.

"Investors need to know that individual stocks can be risky, and even when they think they understand a company, something can come along to disrupt them and their investment," he says. "Even great companies struggle. Just look at GE (NYSE: GE), a name that was once considered the gold standard for American companies that now languishes below $10 a share."

Computing a PEG ratio is one method. For instance, if a stock is selling at a PE ratio of 16 times earnings and has an expected growth rate of 8 percent, it has a PEG ratio of 2, he says. The lower the PEG ratio, the greater margin of safety.

"Perhaps the only thing investors dislike more than risk is suffering losses," Johnson says. "Investors convince themselves that until they sell the stock and realize the loss, they haven't really suffered it. Investors are so reluctant to suffer losses that they will hold losers even though the tax code encourages realizing losses."

Look for companies that are innovative and insulated from technology that could make their niche or sector obsolete, Spatafora says. Knowing when to buy or sell a stock is a matter of choice and requires a large amount of discipline, he adds.

If you generate a nice profit, there's no rule that states you have to sell it all at once, McCoy says. "You could choose to sell half and keep an eye out for further gains and place a stop order underneath."

New traders should try several strategies until they find one that is a good fit, says Peter Roselle, a Treasure Coast, Florida-based trader. Using chart patterns, such as ascending of descending wedges or head-and-shoulders patterns along with technical indicators like the relative strength index, known as RSI, or 50-day or 200-day moving averages are a good method.

"It could also push you into buying or selling at the wrong time," Roselle says. "As traders, we want the decision making process to be as unemotional as possible. The price action should tell you what to do. When I buy or sell, it is because the indicators I use are all pointing to a similar outcome."

Roselle's advice: "The market does not know or care how big or small your positions are and 'fighting the tape' is a losing battle. Know your risk tolerance and remember, cash is a valid position as well."

Yes. Several online brokerage platforms (such as Robinhood) offer commission-free trading in most stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Note that these brokers still earn money from your trades, but by selling order flow to financial firms and loaning your stock to short-sellers.

The easiest way, in terms of getting a trade done, is to open and fund an online account and place a market order. While this is the quickest way to buy stocks, it might not always be the wisest. Do your own research before deciding what type of order to place and with whom.

1. Dividends. When companies are profitable, they can choose to distribute some of those earnings to shareholders by paying a dividend. You can either take the dividends in cash or reinvest them to purchase more shares in the company. Investors seeking predictable income may turn to stocks that pay dividends. Stocks that pay a higher-than-average dividend are called "income stocks."

2. Capital gains. Stocks are bought and sold constantly throughout each trading day, and their prices change all the time. When the price of a stock increases enough to recoup any trading fees, you can sell your shares at a profit. These profits are known as capital gains. In contrast, if you sell your stock for a lower price than you paid to buy it, you'll incur a capital loss.

The performance of an individual stock is also affected by what's happening in the stock market in general, which is in turn affected by the economy as a whole. For example, if interest rates go up, some investors might sell off stock and use that money to buy bonds. If many investors feel the same way, the stock market as a whole is likely to drop in value, which in turn may affect the value of the investments you hold. Other factors influence market performance, such as political uncertainty at home or abroad, energy or weather problems, or soaring corporate profits.

Some companies also issue preferred stock, which usually guarantees a fixed dividend payment similar to the coupon on a bond. This might make preferred stocks attractive to people looking for income. Dividends on preferred stock are paid out before dividends on common stock.

For many companies that have dual share classes, one share class might trade publicly while the other does not. Nontraded shares are generally reserved for company founders or current management. There are often restrictions on selling these shares, and they tend to have what's known as super voting power. This makes it possible for a group of shareholders to own less than half of the total shares of a company but control the outcome of issues put to a shareholder vote, such as a decision to sell the company.

Industry experts often group stocks into categories, sometimes called subclasses. Each subclass has its own characteristics and is subject to specific external pressures that affect the performance of the stocks within that subclass at any given time. 041b061a72


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