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What should I know about IPOs?

IPOs are initial public offerings of a private company ready to turn public and trade on an exchange, with the scrutiny of shareholders. IPOs are priced by the investment bank selling them, instead of the supply and demand of the market. Many have heard the term "IPO" (Initial Public Offering), which is the issuance of the first publicly-available shares of a company. It actually represents the only capital a company will ever raise with its stocks, unless they issue more at another time or if they have issued convertible bonds or warrants. After the IPO, any money made on those shares of stock will be by the buyers and sellers in the market, which is known as the Secondary Market-- the Primary Market is where stocks are issued and purchased directly from the company. Continue reading...

How do I get IPO shares?

Participating in an IPO is generally limited to institutional investors. However, if you are a high net worth client at a brokerage firm that has access to the IPO, you may be able to purchase some shares. First, you need to know that investing in IPOs is considered speculative and only suitable for experienced investors will substantial assets. If you meet the criteria that your brokerage has for allowing IPO trading, which may include a minimum account balance of $250,000 or so, you may be allowed to submit an Indication of Interest (IOI), which is a document used to request shares in the IPO. Continue reading...

Should I buy IPOs for my portfolio?

You may find it difficult to find IPO shares to buy if you are not already a very active and wealthy investor, but if that is the case then you may be a good candidate for IPO shares. For investors who are less affluent and less experienced, you can still pick up a mutual fund or ETF that gives you IPO exposure, if it fits in with your portfolio. In the 1990s, there was a mad rush to buy IPOs: an IPO could be traded at $10 at the beginning of the day and at $100 at the end – you could be instantly rich if you were able to get your hands on an IPO for some of the many tech firms that sprouted up before the turn of the millennium. Continue reading...

What has been the historical performance of IPOs?

Many studies have investigated the benefits of purchasing IPOs, and the results might surprise you. Despite the fact that new issues tend to be priced at a discount from the price that underwriters have decided is a fair valuation, their performance after the initial frenzy tends to be lackluster. While most investors think that IPOs are good investments, this is not exactly true. There are IPOs that have doubled or tripled in price during the first day, and there are IPOs that opened trading below the original IPO price (and anything in between). For short term trading, it can go either way, but if the IPO is a “hot issue,” meaning that there are more indications of interest than there are shares to fill the orders, the average investor will not be able to procure IPO shares anyway. Continue reading...

When should I sell my IPO shares?

If you see that there is a high premium that others are willing to pay for your IPO shares, you may want to sell them as soon as possible, or you may feel that you got a reasonable price and are more willing to hold the shares for a long time because you believe in the long-term growth potential of the company. If there is a lot of hype surrounding the IPO, and share prices are driven upward in the following weeks, it may be a good strategy to immediately sell them while the frenzy is on. After the Lock-up Period of 90 -120 days, the insiders and investment bankers who were required to hold onto their shares may start to sell theirs off, and in some cases, this can cause a significant price drop as they flood the market. Continue reading...

What are ICOs?

ICO is an acronym for Initial Coin Offering, and it is the primary way that new companies can use blockchains to raise capital. Many entrepreneurs have gotten their start in the last decade through crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, where anyone can contribute funds to help an idea get off the ground. Obviously, such funding methods were bound to reach new heights when peer-to-peer blockchains came onto the scene. Blockchains allow transfers of value anywhere in the world without regulatory... Continue reading...

What is an Investment Bank?

An investment bank is a financial institution that typically specializes in large, complex transactions, such as underwriting an Initial Public Offering (IPO), mergers and acquisitions, direct investment into start-up firms, or advising large institutional clients on investments/transactions. In short, investment banks help create the bridge between large enterprises and the investor. In that sense, IPOs are one way to accomplish this, but they also help businesses secure financing in other ways, such as through bond issues or derivative products. Continue reading...

How large are market fluctuations?

Fluctuations are represented in terms of volatility, and different types of investments experience different levels of volatility. The answer here depends on which market you’re talking about. Generally speaking, the capital markets in fixed instruments, such as government bonds, are the least volatile. Market fluctuations of the price of commodities, small-cap stocks, and emerging markets are the largest, and can be as high as 30-40% per year. Continue reading...

What is secondary market?

The secondary markets are where most trading goes on today, where the trades are made investor-to-investor using shares that were issued sometime before, and profits are made by investors and not the underlying company who issued the shares originally. The secondary market is a term used to describe the market created by those who are selling and buying shares which were issued some time ago in what's called the primary market. Continue reading...

What are 'non-marginable' securities?

Some securities, such as penny stocks and IPOs, are prohibited from being purchased on margin or for serving as margin for other purchases. Stocks and other securities that are too volatile to serve as margin collateral - or to be purchased on margin - are called Non-marginable Securities. The Federal Reserve Board has defined certain criteria for determining which securities are non-marginable, and brokers often have their own house rules for traders. Continue reading...

Why do Companies Opt for ICOs?

Initial Coin Offerings are ways for new cryptocurrency or other technology companies to raise capital and put their coins into circulation. For companies too small to attract the attention of a big investment bank, this may be the best option for “going public.” In initial coin offerings, as opposed to using venture capital and initial public offerings of stock in regulated markets, the new company doesn’t actually give up any of their equity (i.e., control) in the company to third parties. Continue reading...

What is a Prospectus?

A Prospectus is a legal document that must be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) when an investment is offered for sale to the public. The most commonly known forms of a prospectus are those that accompany a mutual fund, ETF, or an annuity when purchased by an investor. For an annuity and/or a mutual fund, a Prospectus contains details on the fund management. Continue reading...

What is Corporate Equity?

Corporate equity is retained earnings plus common shares outstanding. On a corporate balance sheet, the retained earnings and the outstanding common stock capitalization combined would be considered the corporate equity, also called shareholder’s equity / owner’s equity. Of the total corporate equity, the portion representing common stock equity is only the capital raised through the issuance of shares in an IPO (initial public offering), where payment for those shares was paid to the company. Subsequent trading in those shares does not affect the common stock equity on the company books. Continue reading...

What is a Stock?

Buying a stock means taking an ownership position in a publicly traded company. Once you purchase a stock, you become a shareholder. A company has two ways of acquiring capital needed for growth: borrowing it (often in the form of issuing bonds), or selling shares of their company's equity, which is known as stock. In other words, when you buy shares of a company’s stock, you are buying a claim to the company's profit margin, because you are technically a part-owner in the company. Those who hold shares of Common Stock, the most typical form of stock, have voting rights in the election of the company’s board members. Continue reading...

What is Underwriting?

Underwriting is the process through which risks are accepted by an institution. Underwriting is the assessment of risk or the acceptance of risk after such assessment by a company or bank. Underwriters in insurance companies will assess a risk prior to the company accepting the risk; once the risk has been accepted the company bears the burden of covering the potential losses associated with the risk. The company is paid a premium for accepting the risk. Continue reading...

What is a Corporation?

A corporation is a business entity which has filed articles of incorporation. Unlike a Sole Proprietorship or a Partnership, a corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owners. They are often referred to as C-corporations or C-corps, to distinguish them from S-corps, which are named after the subchapter which describes them in the law (though technically speaking, S-corps are corporations, too). Continue reading...

What is Investment Banking?

Investment banking activity is different than traditional banking. Investment banks often serve as intermediaries that underwrite a new issue of stock and help to distribute it. They also trade in their own accounts, run hedge funds, and generally invest and speculate in ways that most institutions can’t. Investment banks can assist with new issues of stocks and bonds, purchasing large blocks of them to distribute at a premium. Continue reading...

What does it mean to Accept Risk?

The notion of who bears risk for various sorts of failures, circumstances, or losses is a prevalent one in the financial world, and many institutions make all of their money accepting risks. To accept a risk is to bear the burden of loss or replacement if an event occurs that causes an asset to lose value or disappear. There is a bright side to this, however. There is a real and theoretical “risk premium” due to those who accept a risk. Continue reading...

What is a Spin-off?

A spin-off is when a division or subsidiary of a company is separated from the parent corporation and starts to offer its own shares. The term can also colloquially refer to a situation where a group of talent leaves the larger company to start their own firm doing similar work as they used to do. As far as the SEC is concerned, the definition of a spin-off must include the shareholders of the parent corporation being offered a substantially proportionate amount of shares in the new company. Continue reading...

What are the Forms of Ownership of a Corporation in the United States?

There are many different forms of ownership of a company in the United States. This subtopic describes some of them. Corporations can be privately held or publicly traded. There are also C-Corporations (C-corps), which are the typically large companies controlled by a board of directors, and S-Corporations (S-Corps), which are smaller and have some of the characteristics of LLCs. LLC is an abbreviation for Limited Liability Company, which is a pass-through entity for partnerships or sole proprietors which shields the private assets of the owners from the liabilities of the business. LLCs are almost entirely regulated by state law, and while they can issue stock, it depends on the state. Continue reading...