What Is a Stock?

A stock is a share in the ownership of a company. If you own a company’s shares, you have a claim on the company’s assets and earnings.

A company issues stock in order to raise money for a variety of purposes. Companies may need to invest in growth, expand their operations or pay off debt. Investors buy shares in a company to become owners of that company, to receive dividends (payments of a portion of the company’s profits), and to participate in the company’s success over time.

In addition, owning a company’s stock provides certain protections that investors do not get with other forms of investment. For example, if you own a partnership with others and the business goes bankrupt, creditors cannot go after you personally to sell off your personal assets to repay them. This is one of the main reasons that investing in stocks can be more attractive than other forms of investment.

Stocks are traded on a public market, and that’s where the term “stock” gets its most well-known meaning. Buying and selling stocks is called trading, and it takes place on the stock exchange, where people sitting silently on either side of a room hold signs with numbers and letters that represent their offers to buy or sell stock.

The price of a stock will rise or fall on a number of factors. These can include good or bad news about the company, general market performance, and the economic climate. However, it’s important to remember that a company’s stock is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

If you see a company’s stock price rise, it means that someone believes that the company is a safe and profitable investment. That belief can cause other investors to buy the stock, driving the price even higher. Of course, the opposite is also true – if the company’s future looks grim, it’s likely that the price of its stock will drop.

When a company’s stock prices drop, that’s typically a sign that there are fewer buyers of its shares than sellers. Traders will often try to profit from this imbalance by shorting the stock, which involves purchasing shares and then selling them at a lower price.

Stock is a type of cooking liquid that is used in soups, stews and sauces. It is made by simmering bones, meat, fish or vegetables in water or wine for an extended period. It can be flavored with a mirepoix or other aromatics.

While the allure of buying a home run stock like Apple or Google parent Alphabet at an early stage can be tempting, such home runs are generally few and far between. A more reliable strategy is to build a well-rounded portfolio that includes stocks from multiple companies. This helps to balance your exposure to economic risk and can improve long-term returns.