Stock Market Terms

For the layman, there are many terms used during transactions at the stock market that have filtered down to our everyday world. We heard them, we understand some of them, we use some of them yet, we know little what they mean in their real business context.

The following are some of the more widely-used terms used in the transaction of deals at the stock market, be it at the old stock exchange floors, or at some terminal of some electronic stock market network.

Stock exchange

This is the central market for buying and selling stocks. The price is determined through supply-demand mechanisms. Individuals and institutions buy and sell the stocks in an auction-like forum.

Initial public offering (IPO)
This is the first public stock offering undertaken by a company.

Primary market
This refers to the market in which shares in a company are sold to the public for the first time.

After market or secondary market
A term referring to stocks which have been bought and sold by investors after they have made their debut on the primary market. (A similar concept is new home sales versus resale. A home can only be sold "new" once. After that, it becomes a resale.)

Market value
This is the price investors are willing to pay for a stock. This is after being given information on the stock and its anticipated future earnings projections and dividend streams.

This refers to the centralized clearinghouse and repository for securities where securities are actually stored. This is also where the electronic day-to-day movements of those securities are facilitated. (The Depository Trust Company, located in New York, is the largest and most important depository in the U.S.)

Cash account
An account maintained at a brokerage in which an investor deposits cash that can be used to buy securities.

Long position (buying long)
This refers to the practice of buying and holding stock, expecting that the price of the stock will rise over time.

Preferred stock
This is a specific class of stocks which is senior to (and receives preferential treatment over) the company's common stock. Also, preferred stockholders receive preference in the payment of dividends and on claims of company assets in the event of a bankruptcy.

Blue chip stocks
This refers to the stocks of large and stable public companies with a solid history of profitable growth and a steady stream of dividend payments.

Par value
This is an arbitrary value assigned to common stock shares at the time a stock is issued in a public offering. Par value typically has no relationship to actual market value.

Capital gain
This refers to the profit or gain made when a stock is sold for a higher price than was paid for the stock. If a stock is bought for $10 and was sold a year later for $11, the capital gain on that sale is valued at $1.

These are the cash payments paid to shareholders. Dividends represent a certain percentage of a company's total profits after taxes. Not all companies pay dividends.

Dividend yield
This refers to the annual percentage return represented by the annual dividend stream compared to the price of the stock.

Just like any other profession or trade, the stock market has its own set of names and terms unique to its kind of business. The above-listed ones are the most commonly-used.

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