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Equity investing: Understanding the basics of stock ownership

Money scattered on the floor in a room overlooking a city skyline, exploring equity.

Have you ever wondered how the world's wealthiest people build their fortunes? Chances are, a significant portion of their wealth comes from equity investing. By owning shares in companies and taking advantage of the power of the stock market, equity investors can generate significant long-term returns.

But with great rewards comes great risk, and understanding the nuances of equity investing is crucial to success. In this guide, we'll explore the world of equity investing, from the basics of stock ownership to how to invest in it. Continue reading below to fully grasp it.

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What is equity?

Equity is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the world of finance, but what does it actually mean? Put simply, it represents ownership in a company. When you buy a share of stock, you become a part owner of that company and have a claim on its assets and profits. Keep in mind that this may vary in different financial instruments or derivatives.

Think of it this way: imagine you and a group of friends start a lemonade stand together. Each of you puts in some money to buy the ingredients and equipment. Over time, the stand becomes more successful and starts making a profit. As part owners of the business, you each have a claim on that profit based on your percentage of ownership.

In the world of finance, equity works the same way. When you invest in a company by buying shares of stock, you become a part owner of that company and are entitled to a portion of its profits.

For example, common shares (ON) give investors the right to vote on company decisions during shareholder meetings, whilst preferred shares (PN) provide shareholders with priority in receiving dividend payouts.

Typically, preferred shares pay a higher dividend than common shares, often at least 10% higher.

While equity can be a powerful way to build wealth over the long-term, it's important to understand its risks and rewards before getting started.

What is the importance of equity for companies?

Equity is vital for companies because it provides a way for them to raise capital to fund their operations and growth. By selling shares of stock to investors, companies can raise money without taking on debt or incurring interest payments. This can be especially important for startups and growing companies that need funding to expand their operations.

In addition to raising capital, equity can also help companies attract and retain top talent. By offering stock options or other equity-based compensation, companies can incentivize employees to work harder and help drive the company's success.

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One way companies can go about selling shares of stock to the public is through an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

This is when a company decides to go public and sell shares of stock to investors for the first time. An IPO can be a significant event for a company, as it provides a way to raise large amounts of capital and gain access to a broader pool of investors.

It can also bring increased scrutiny and regulatory requirements, as the company is now publicly traded and must comply with various financial reporting and disclosure rules.

How equity relates to the financial market

As we have seen, when an investor buys shares or quotas of a company, they become a part-owner of that business. The amount of shares or quotas an investor owns is directly proportional to their stake in the company and the return to which they will be entitled.

There are two primary ways for an investor to realise a return on their equity investment:

Firstly, they can sell their stake in the company at a later date for a higher price than they initially invested.

Alternatively, they can receive earnings from the company in the form of dividends, interest on equity, bonuses, or other payments.

It is important to note that equity is a variable income investment, and its future performance cannot be predicted.

The success of the company depends on various factors, including effective management and market conditions. As such, equity investments can be both profitable and risky, and investors must carefully evaluate their investment decisions.

It is also important to understand that the performance of any equity/stock may impact the products offered by brokers.

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Equity value of a company: what is it and how to analyse it to invest in it

The equity value of a company refers to the total worth of the company's equity or the book value. This value can be calculated by adding up all the assets of the company and deducting any debts that are part of the operation.

For instance, suppose a company has $1 million in assets, including cash, inventory, and investments, and $500,000 in liabilities, including loans and accounts payable. In this case, the equity value of the company would be $500,000 ($1 million in assets - $500,000 in liabilities).

However, simply relying on equity value to analyse a company's worth is not sufficient. Investors must also consider the unique characteristics of the company, such as the sector in which it operates and the stage of its business. For example, a tech startup with high growth potential may have a lower equity value than an established company with stable revenue and profits.

To make informed investment decisions, investors must conduct a comprehensive analysis of a company's financial health, management team, industry trends, and other factors. By taking a more comprehensive approach, investors can better understand a company's potential for growth and success in the market.

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How to invest in equity?

  • One common way to invest in equity is through specialised funds. This involves selecting companies that could potentially receive funding and analysing their projects and risks. Private equity funds, which are high-risk and low-liquidity investments, are typically available only to qualified or professional investors. A qualified investor must prove that they have investments of over $200,000 or have specific certifications, while professional investors must have at least $2,000,000 invested in the financial market.
  • Another way to invest in equity is through crowdfunding, which is open to the general public and allows small investors to participate with lower initial contributions, usually from $200. With crowdfunding, investors directly access platforms that have pre-selected the best projects and provide all necessary information about startups, including business strategy, partner qualifications, and results projections.

It's important to understand that investing in equity is a high-risk venture that is often riskier than investing in stocks or other variable income assets.

This is due to the direct connection with long-term projects that are susceptible to economic fluctuations for many years. However, successful companies executing their strategies during a favourable economic climate can result in higher returns than other financial assets.

Not investment advice. Past performance does not guarantee or predict future performance.

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