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What are Domestic Stock Funds?

Domestic equity funds invest in companies domiciled in the United States. Domestic Equity Funds, as the name suggests, invest primarily in stocks of U.S.-based companies. These come in many varieties: some invest in companies within a certain size range, some focus on specific sectors, some seek value or growth stocks within sectors, and so on. Domestic stocks funds usually represent the majority of the holdings in an average American citizen’s portfolio. Continue reading...

What are International Equity Funds?

International equity funds hold stocks of corporations based outside of the United States. International equity funds invest mostly in the stock of overseas companies. People purchase shares of such funds as a means of globally diversifying their portfolio. There is some degree of currency risk involved in international investments, which may necessitate a currency hedging strategy if an investor is heavily invested across the globe. Continue reading...

What is the Wilshire 5000 Index?

The Wilshire 5000 is about as broad as an index gets. There are over 9,000 companies traded on all of the U.S. equity markets, and the Wilshire 5000 tries to capture a broad sense for how they are performing. Though the index says 5000, there are actually just under 7,000 listed stocks in the index. It is a cap-weighted index meaning bigger stocks have more influence, and vice versa. It can be considered the broadest index of all U.S. equity markets. Continue reading...

What is the Russell 2000 Index?

The Russell 2000 index is comprised of the 2,000 smallest companies in the U.S. If you’re looking for a small cap domestic benchmark, this is a good one. Companies included in this index are reevaluated annually to make sure they can still be considered small cap companies. Since the Russell 1000 index represents 90% of the market, the Russell 2000 index represents about 10% of the market (if you are wondering whether or not there is a Russell 3000 index, the answer is yes — it is a combination of the Russell 1000 and Russell 2000 indices). Continue reading...

What is the Equity Multiplier?

The Equity Multiplier is a number used to compare companies, arrived at by dividing total assets by owner’s equity, and it gives an idea of what proportion of the company’s assets have been financed through equity vs debt. In general a low Equity Multiplier is a good sign because it means that a higher proportion of equity has been used to acquire assets, as opposed to funding assets with debt. However, the absence of significant debt could mean that the company lacked the credit rating to issue debt or take out loans. 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 Private Equity?

In the world of finance, private equity is a relatively new industry whereby private companies finance other businesses through direct investment, often in exchange for equity in the company and in some cases, decision-making capabilities. Private equity companies generally use capital of the principals or of high net worth investors to strategically invest in growing companies that need growth capital or seed capital to expand operations. Continue reading...

What is Shareholders Equity?

In the standard accounting equation, when all company liabilities are subtracted from company assets, the remainder is called shareholders equity. What this means is that in the event that the company were liquidated, all debts would be serviced first, including bonds issued by the company, and the remaining balance would be divided amongst shareholders. If a company has a respectable debt-to-equity ratio, it can improve the appeal of a company’s stock and lead to a higher market price for the shares. Continue reading...

What is Return on Equity?

Return on Equity refers to the return on shareholder’s equity, which is like looking at the compounding effects of profits. Shareholder’s equity, in the standard accounting equation, is the amount of assets and retained earnings in a company over and above the company’s liabilities. Return on Equity is a ratio which divides the net income of a company by the total shareholder’s equity in a company, which is effectively looking at the profitability of the profits of a company. Continue reading...

Is my portfolio diversified enough?

Diversification is intended to reduce the volatility of price movements in individual securities, but many people are not sure what proper diversification looks like. It depends. You should definitely have exposure to at least two asset classes: equities and bonds. Within each asset class, diversification is also important. In your equity portfolio, you should have exposure to stocks with various capitalizations (such as Large Cap, Mid Cap, and Small Cap), various geographical areas (such as the Europe), Developing Markets, and Emerging Markets. Continue reading...

What is Retained Earnings?

A company may reinvest earnings instead of paying out dividends. These earnings do not necessarily sit in a retained earnings account, but are used to improve the business and make it more profitable. This could even include paying off debt. Retained earnings is found in the Shareholder’s Equity portion of a company’s balance sheet. Despite the fact that earnings have not been dispensed to them in the form of dividends or share buybacks, shareholders will see the value of their stock appreciate when earnings are retained and used to grow the business. Continue reading...

What is the Debt-to-Equity Ratio?

Also known as ‘leverage,’ the debt-to-equity ratio indicates the relative proportion of a company’s debt to total shareholder equity. Given that debt is looked at relative to shareholder equity, the debt-to-equity ratio is often given greater consideration than the debt ratio for determining leverage and risk. Similar to debt ratio, a lower debt-to-equity means that a company has less leverage and a stronger equity position. Continue reading...

What does Equity or Security Mean in the context of Capital Markets?

An equity or security generally refers to an individual position owned within a portfolio. An equity generally signifies some level of ownership in a corporation. When a person has ‘equity in a company,’ it generally means they own some portion of it and have a claim on the company’s value. An equity is another way of referring to a stock, which also represents a shareholder’s stake in a company. A security is a broader term, which refers to an instrument of ownership. Stocks are considered securities, but fixed income or debt holdings can also be labeled securities within a portfolio. Continue reading...

What is Capital Structure?

Capital structure gives a framework for a company’s makeup and how it finances its operations, because it includes long and short-term debt plus common and preferred equity. Capital structure is a mix of a company's long-term debt, specific short-term debt, common equity and preferred equity. Often times, investors will want to look at a company’s debt-to-equity ratio as a telltale of what their capital structure is. The higher the debt-to-equity ratio, the more that particular company is borrowing to finance operations versus using cash flow or assets on hand. Continue reading...

What is Home Equity?

Home equity is a notional amount that a person owns at any given time, which is computed as the market value of a home minus any remaining principal repayments on a loan. Home equity is an asset on a person’s balance sheet, and can be used as as leverage for additional loans or lines of credit. A person’s home equity is the amount in their home which is “paid off.” It can be computed by taking the fair market value of a home and subtracting the amount of principal, if any, that still needs to be repaid on a mortgage loan. Continue reading...

What is a Convertible Bond?

A convertible bond, also known as convertible debt, is debt that can be converted to equity (in the form of common stock) at the discretion of the bondholder. There are typically windows that an investor can choose to convert the bond to equity, which an investor may choose to do if they have confidence the company will continue to perform well. Because a convertible bond has the option to convert to stock, it typically offers a lower interest rate since the conversion capability itself has value. Continue reading...

What Does Maintenance Margin Mean?

A maintenance margin is the minimum amount of equity an investor must keep in a brokerage account to cover margin balances. Under the regulatory guidance of NYSE and FINRA, an investor has to have in equity at least 25% of the total market value of the securities in the margin account. Depending on which brokerage firm the account is held, the maintenance margin requirements could be higher. According the the Federal Reserve’s regulation titles “Regulation T,” when a trader buys on margin they must maintain key levels of equity throughout the life of the trade. Continue reading...

What is the Equity Risk Premium?

The Equity Risk Premium (aka, Equity Premium) is the expected return of the stock market over the risk-free rate (U.S. Treasuries). This number basically refers to the amount an investor should expect in exchange for accepting the risk inherent in the stock market. The size of the equity risk premium varies depending on the amount of risk of a portfolio, the market, or a specific holding investment, against the risk-free rate. Continue reading...

How Do I Find the Best Mutual Fund?

It requires a great deal of due diligence, but investors should understand that past performance is not indicative of future performance. Focus on experience. In the stock market, as with most things in life, hindsight is 20/20. There are countless lists on the internet with titles like “The Best Mutual Fund Families” and “50 Winning Mutual Funds.” It is important to understand that the names on those lists are a function of hindsight and not foresight. Continue reading...

What should I know about private placements?

Private placements fall under Regulation D, usually, which stipulates the rules by which investors can be sought and placed into privately arranged contracts for equity investments. Private placements may be for non-public companies, or it may be a private offering of a publicly traded company. Regulation D stipulates the guidelines by which investors can engage in private investment without many reporting requirements. Continue reading...