What’s the difference between a bull and a bear? It may sound like some silly little one liner joke, but sinking your hard earned money into the stock market without knowing what you’re doing is anything but a laughing matter. In fact it’s absolutely daft, and if you think you can grow your capital without arming yourself with good working knowledge about how stocks and investments work, I’m afraid you’re quite mistaken.
There are some inescapably crucial terms that you’ll stumble upon as you learn and ply your trade as a stock market investor. So, before you turn so much as one fresh page in that new stock investment book you excitedly bought home from the bookstore, you should probably do a bit of digging on the internet and browse a few stock forums. In the meantime, let your mind soak up these must know stock market investment terms.
There are many to get through so we’ll break this article up into parts – and remember, this is by no means an exhaustive list. But it should get you off to a fighting start as you learn more about the heady, intoxicating mistress that is stock market investment.
AMEX – Refers to the old American Stock Exchange which was acquired by the New York Stock Exchange.
Bears – Refers to a negative stock trading environment or market. When experts talk of your stocks and a bear market in the same sentence, it’s almost certainly an indication of trouble. Poor economies and recessionary pressures often create Bear market situations where the general price and trend of stock market sectors, and the companies within, go downwards.
Bulls – On the other hand, when Bulls and your stock are mentioned in the same sentence, you can normally expect good things to happen to your stock price. A bull market depicts a strong market with positive, upward sentiment.
Technical Analysis – The use of elaborate charting to predict the likely direction of a stock price. Technical analysis is often used alongside fundamental analysis to pick ideal moments to enter a stock trade.
Fundamental Analysis – Uses numeric data to determine how attractive an investment a stock is likely to be. Fundamentals include the use of mathematical formulas known as “ratios” which are usually calculated on the back of a company’s financial statements. Most ratios are calculated by slicing and dicing various key numbers from the profit & loss account, cashflow statement and the balance sheet. The ratios that are produced within the fundamental analysis process will be compared against a backdrop of the same ratios for the sector, and other companies within the same industry. Your ability to understand and apply fundamental analysis will be paramount in helping you become a confident and successful long term investor.
Broker – The institution that will be used to buy or sell your stocks. While some brokers provide advisory services, the mainstream smaller investors use an online execution only service where they can buy and sell stocks for a few bucks per trade.
Day Trader – A day trader is distinctly different from a stock investor. Day traders weave in and out of stocks quickly, within days or sometimes even hours. While this may seem attractive, and while a skilled day trader can generate large profits, it’s a difficult skill that should only be attempted by experienced investors.
EPS – Refers to “earnings per share”. This is one of the most popular ratios that form part of a well balanced fundamental analysis strategy. The EPS provides valuable insight into a company’s overall earnings potency and is calculated by dividing net income against the number of shares issued.
Indexes/Indices – These are key benchmarks that are comprised of specific stocks. For example, the S&P 500 contains the 500 largest US companies, while the FTSE 100 contains the top hundred UK companies according to market capitalization.