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What is the Risk/Return Trade-Off

There are investments which have the potential for very high returns, but they will always be that much riskier than the lower-yielding alternatives, and this is part of the risk/return trade-off. The relationship between risk and return is a positive linear relationship in most theoretical depictions, and if an investor seeks greater returns, he or she will have to take on greater risk. This is called the risk/return trade-off. For more stability and less risk, an investor will have to sacrifice some potential returns. Continue reading...

What is market risk?

Market risk is the chance that an investment will not maintain its value when it is dependent on the many factors that influence the health of the economy and the stock market. Investors must be aware that investing money in a stock or mutual fund is to tie the fate of that money to the fate of the company or companies that they have invested in. The other side of the coin, of course, is the potential for gains. The potential gains of an investment are the premium that is paid to an investor in exchange for allowing a company or mutual fund to take risks with the investor’s money. Continue reading...

What is the “Riskless” (or Risk-Free) Rate of Return?

For comparisons of the risk/return ratio of an investment, one must start with a benchmark of a risk-free rate of return in the current market. Since U.S. Treasury bills are backed by the full faith, credit, and taxing power of the U.S. Government, they are considered “riskless,” or as close to riskless as we can get. The current yield on a 10-year Treasury note is generally considered the risk-free rate of return. Continue reading...

What is Unsystematic Risk?

Unsystematic risk is idiosyncratic or unique risk that does not reflect a direct correlation with the risk present in the market, or systematic risk. Most securities and portfolios experience risk and variations which are not attributable to the market as a whole, and this is known as unsystematic risk. Systematic risk, on the other hand, is the risk borne by all investors in the market, where broad changes in the market cannot be avoided through diversification of a portfolio. Continue reading...

What is the ‘Risk-Free Rate of Return’?

The risk-free rate of return is the rate an investor can get on a risk-free asset at a given time. It is usually the current yield on a 10-year treasury, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government and is considered risk-free. The risk-free rate is used in several calculations and considerations in finance, to show what return can be earned in the current market environment without being exposed to any risk. Continue reading...

What is Duration?

Duration refers to the amount of time before a fixed income product will return the investment (principal and interest) to the investor. The bigger the duration number, the greater the interest-rate risk or reward for bond prices. For example, an investor should generally expect to receive better interest from a 30-year duration bond versus a 10-year, since the investor has to hold the note for longer to receive all interest payments and principal. Continue reading...

What are realistic expectations for my portfolio performance?

Realistically, you should not plan on getting more than about 10% average per year over the long term for a portfolio of diversified equity exposure and you should really plan on getting less than that to be on the safe side. Everybody wants to have a portfolio that outperforms the market when the markets are rising and does not lose money when the markets are falling. We have a secret for you – it’s not possible. Continue reading...

What are the Risks Associated With Stocks?

Stocks are inherently risky, and an investor has risk of capital loss. As with most things in life, no risk yields no return. Theoretically, the greater the risk, the greater the potential return. A new company which has not established itself yet will have a decent chance of crashing and an investor can lose all invested capital. But — what if it takes off? Your potential gains in such a situation are potentially vast. There is a point when the rate of increased return per degree of risk begins to slow down. Continue reading...

Stock Portfolio Definition

All of the investments held by an individual or mutual fund or other entity are referred to as that person or entity's portfolio. These investments can range from securities to cash to real assets held for the purpose of preservation, growth, or income; essentially anything that is part of a long-term financial strategy that is held separate from daily operations and cash flow can be considered part of a portfolio. The gains and losses of all the singular investments held are totaled up to find the overall return of the portfolio. Continue reading...

What is Risk?

Risk can be defined as exposure to the possibility of loss of an asset. Risk might be used to denote the cause of the potential loss, or the probability of the loss. In finance, it is common to hear about the correlation between risk and return; more risk may yield a higher return, but it also has the potential for more loss. The situation requires that an investor willing to take such a risk must provide the capital to fund the investment which may grow or may fail. Continue reading...

What are Balanced Funds?

Balanced funds offer a well-diversified investment that includes relatively equal exposure to stocks and bonds. Balanced funds combine stocks, bonds, and money market instruments to give investors some upside potential along with a goal of capital preservation. While they are considered to be safer, they also have more modest returns in most market environments, because, of course lower risk investments have lower potential returns. Continue reading...

What are Small Cap Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds that invest heavily in companies that are small, but not micro-size, can be described as small cap funds. A small capitalization mutual fund primarily invests in small companies. Small companies are usually defined as companies with market capitalization of under $2 billion. The companies in this category are larger than those in the “micro” and “nano” cap categories. A mutual fund investing in small cap companies will generally experience higher price volatility than both mid cap and large cap mutual funds. Over time, small cap companies as a group have tended to outperform the broader market, so the higher risk is associated with higher return. Continue reading...

What is the “efficient frontier”?

The “Efficient Frontier” is a modern portfolio theory tool, which demonstrates to investors the best possible returns they can expect from their portfolios, relative to the amount of risk they’re willing to accept. For investors that find themselves below the “Efficient Frontier,” it means their strategy is not providing enough return for the level of risk assumed. The opposite is true as well. What the theory means to communicate is that investors would be wise to include some higher growth, higher risk securities in their portfolios, but combine them in a strategic way so as to gain risk/reward value that comes with diversification. Continue reading...

What is currency risk?

Countries, investors, and international businesses have to frequently assess currency risk, which is the chance that exchange rates will change unfavorably at inopportune times. An investment in a foreign security or company, or income payments coming from foreign sources, can be at risk for exchange rate changes. If an investor or company has financial interests which are based in another currency, or if the investor engages in Forex trading, currency risk looms over the future value of the holdings, on top of any typical market risk. Continue reading...

What is Systematic Risk?

Systematic risk is the broad risk of fluctuations and downturns in the market as a whole, which it is said cannot be eliminated through diversification. Systematic risk is also known as market risk, which is the exposure of all investors to the broad movements and downturns of the market as a whole. Theoretically it cannot be controlled for through simple diversification, since that would only bring a portfolio closer to the broad market performance, with a Beta closer to 1. 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...

What is Counter-Party Risk?

Counter-party risk is the risk that the person on the other side of the trade will not meet his or her contractual obligations. In other words, it’s essentially the risk of doing business with someone. In financial contracts, counter-party risk is also known as “default risk.” Continue reading...

What is Total Return?

Total Return is the measure of all appreciation and interest as well as dividends and other distributions from an investment. Often computations of return will only consider appreciation, and it can be an easy mistake to make when looking at performance data at times. When a stock pays significant and consistent dividends, it needs to be factored in to the computation of total return. This adds a significant compounding effect to the investment’s overall performance, but if you just looked at the sheets that said it had a 4% return and a 2% dividend yield, you would be missing the most important part. Total return can be calculated for different kinds of investments or an entire portfolio, and is often done on an annual basis once all distributions have been made. Continue reading...

What is Return on Sales?

Also called net operating margin, return on sales can indicate how well a company makes use of its sales revenue. By dividing Operating Profit by Net Sales, we can arrive at the Return on Sales. Essentially what we’ve done is broken down profits on a per sales basis. We can see what percentage of sales ends up as profit, or, on the other side of the coin, how much profit is generated per unit of sales. This can be useful for a comparison of companies of different sizes, because it excludes their assets, capital structures, taxes, and interest. 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...