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Corporate BasicsBasicsCorporate StructureCorporate FundamentalsCorporate DebtRisksEconomicsCorporate AccountingDividendsEarnings

What is an Accounting Convention?

An accounting convention is an established an agreed-upon method of documenting specific items on a company’s books. The most widely-used accounting conventions are part of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP), which is the only accounting methodology accepted for quarterly 10-Q filings with the SEC in the United States, and has also become the basis for regulatory accounting practices in other countries. Continue reading...

What is Accrual Accounting?

Accrual accounting is the counterpart to cash accounting, and the accrual method puts expenses and revenues on the books as soon as they are contractually agreed-upon. Accrual accounting is required by GAAP conventions for all publicly traded companies who have over $5 million in annual revenues. This method is the counterpart to cash accounting, which may be more useful to smaller businesses. In accrual accounting, the expenses and revenues which are agreed upon are written onto the business’s ledger at the current time, regardless of when payment will actually settle on the transaction. When a sale is made or service is performed, the revenue from the activity is documented, even if no cash is received in the current period. Continue reading...

What can I learn about venture capital?

Many people know about venture capitalists that help provide the funding for startup companies in Silicon Valley and other areas. In reality, only a small portion of venture capital is directed at seed money for startups. The rest of it is directed at companies in various phases of growth that need capital to fuel a new expansion or to turn their business around. Venture capital comes from individual investors or venture capital firms who agree to infuse new money into a business in exchange for an equity stake in the business going forward. Continue reading...

What is a C-Corporation?

C-corps are generally the larger, more established companies in the country – most publicly-traded companies are C-corps. C-Corporations are companies which, as opposed to S-Corporations, are subject to federal income tax entirely separately from their owners. In addition, the earnings (or losses) are distributed among the shareholders (usually as dividends) and will appear on their individual income tax reports. This is the double-taxation for which C-corps are infamous. Continue reading...

What is a Debt Settlement Company?

A debt settlement company is a company who specializes in helping people with overwhelming debt settle with their creditors. Debt settlement companies can help individuals with debt issues settle with their creditors for less than they owe. Of course, this will give the individual’s credit score a significant dent that stays on public record for seven years, but at least it gets people out from under their crushing debt. A settlement company will attempt to negotiate a settlement deal on your behalf with one or all of your creditors. 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...

What is a Limited Liability Company (LLC)?

A limited liability company (LLC) establishes a separate entity from the sole proprietor or partners in a business which shields them from some of the liability associated with the business. An LLC is a business entity that creates a distinction between the business’s assets and liabilities and the assets and liabilities of the owner or partners. Sole proprietors and partnerships who do not file for this distinction leave themselves and all of their personal assets at risk, in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. Continue reading...

What is an Earnings Recast?

An earnings recast is a revision of previous earnings reports, in which a company has made different choices with their accounting methodology that they feel are a better representation of their accounts. A common time to do this is after a company has divested itself of a subsidiary, when it will publish recast financial statements from the preceding years that show the company’s performance without the subsidiary being included. Continue reading...

What does it Mean to be "Listed"?

To be “listed” means a stock has been registered and approved for trading on an exchange. The most relevant companies will aim to be listed on a major exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or the NASDAQ. Who are Venture Capitalists? Should I Listen to Commentators on Financial News Programs? 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 Mortgage Fallout?

Mortgage fallout refers to the instance of proposed loans falling through before closing. This is something tracked by not only mortgage producers and their mortgage companies, but also economists who keep up with mortgages and the secondary market for mortgage derivatives. Since mortgages take two months or more to close, the fallout rate can indicate a stagnancy in the economy and trouble for the secondary mortgage market. 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 Insider Trading?

Simply put, insider trading is the crime of trading in a company’s stock based on information not available to the general public. According to the efficient market theory, any publicly available information is immediately "priced-in" to a stock, so any article you might find in a news publication is not going to give you a competitive advantage for a stock's future price movements. Insider trading tips give an unfair advantage to the holder of the information, since the market has not had a chance to react to it yet. Of course, insider trading is illegal and several notorious cases have been well-publicized, like that of Martha Stewart. She was jailed. Continue reading...

How Do I Know that Life Insurance Companies are Reliable?

Life insurance companies that have not been around more than 20 years may not be reliable. Even the ones that have been around 30 years or so need to have very good credit ratings and business models for you to expect them to be around in 30 years or so to pay a possible death claim. To determine whether an insurance company is reliable, it is necessary to look at their financial strength rating. A financial strength rating is a letter-grade provided by major rating services, such as Moody’s Investor Services, Fitch Ratings, and others. For example, Moody’s Investor Services ratings are as follows: AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB, etc. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission?

The FERC oversees the interstate commerce surrounding oil, energy, and natural gas. This regulation and oversight might deal with pipelines and storage facilities, permits for future exploration sites, environmental and safety concerns with projects, as well as the sale and transfer of these commodities. FERC deals with the companies engaged in the extraction, transfer, storage, and sale of energy and energy-related resources. Continue reading...

What were the Biggest Insider Trading Scandals?

In 2007, Qwest Communications CEO Joseph Nacchio was convicted of making over $50 million dollars through illegal trades. Essentially, Nacchio knew that the company wasn’t doing well, while telling the public that it was on track to pursue highly exaggerated revenue gains. He capitalized on the inflated stock, and was, of course, caught and found guilty. He’s currently serving a six year prison sentence. Continue reading...

How Does a 401(k) Work?

You may know that a 401(k) allows you to make payroll-deducted contributions to a retirement account before taxes are taken out, but how does it work? Employees can either become participants in a 401(k) by voluntary enrollment or by automatic enrollment with the ability to opt-out. Contributions go in before taxes are taken out, and this can reduce an individual’s taxable income or even income bracket for the year. Continue reading...

What is the Investment Company Act of 1940?

The ‘40 Act, as it’s sometimes called, defined and delineated rules for investment companies, which today are known as mutual funds, investment trusts, ETFs, and so on. The ‘40 Act, along with the Securities Act of 1933, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, have formed the foundation for regulation in the investment industry in the US. The ‘40 Act defines investment companies and stipulates how they are to represent themselves and disclose information about the funds they sell to the public. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Receivable Financing?

Financing companies can step in and take over the accounts receivables of a company who no longer wants to wait to be paid on their receivables. Financing companies, who are sometimes called Factoring Companies or Factors, will pay about 75% of the amount due to companies who want to offload or outsource their Receivables. The factoring company will then take over the task of collections, and will transfer most of the money received back to the original company, after their fees have been deducted from the proceeds. Continue reading...