Trading Small Stock - Things to Consider
Historically smaller stocks outperform larger stocks. However, at the same time many more smaller stocks have fallen by the wayside than the larger more established stocks. As a reference point, a small stock is considered any stock with a market cap under 1 billion while a larger stock is a stock with a market cap over 5 billion. A company's market cap is (current stock price x current shares outstanding).
Investing in small cap stocks is a way to increase your investment return, but you should keep a few important factors in mind. One of the most important things to consider is liquidity. Many small companies do not trade very many shares each day. The drawback of this is that the stock will likely be very volatile and have a large bid-ask spread (the difference between what you can buy the stock for and what you can sell the stock for). Even if the stock is a great company it may be difficult to buy and sell shares without moving the stock price up or down against you. My rule of thumb is to look for stocks that are averaging at least 100,000 shares being traded each day.
Another factor to consider when buying a small stock is the risk of dilution. Dilution is when a company issues more shares to obtain cash for growth and operations. If done properly, issuing new shares can help a company's growth and profitability. However, if shares are issued unnecessarily or too quickly it can literally cut profits in half. Let me give you an example: A company has 20 million shares outstanding and it is earning 20 million dollars a year. The earnings per share of this company is $1.00 per share ($20,000,000 / 20,000,000 shares). Ok, but the company is planning a big expansion and it now needs to issue 20 million more shares. The earnings per share is now $.50 per share ($20,000,000 / 40,000,000 shares). After issuing the new shares, the company has to double its profits just to get back to $1.00 per share earnings.
The third thing to watch for when trading small stocks is inside ownership. Inside owners are people that work for the company that also own stock in the company. If key people that work at a company do not have a lot of shares in the company, find out why. When a company's key employees have a significant amount of shares in the company they are likely confident in the future growth of the company. In addition, it is in their best interests to help the company succeed. Keep an eye out for any insiders that sell a large portion of their shares. This can often be a very negative sign.
Finally, when investing in small companies make sure they are reporting financial statements in a timely matter, if they are reporting them at all. Don't rely solely on news releases to find out about a company. If financial statements are not available it is easier for people to create news to manipulate a stock's price. This is especially true of very low priced stocks as it is much easier to accumulate a lot of shares. Personally, I will not invest in a company that does not provide access to financial statements. While there may be other factors to consider, following these 4 suggestions when buying small cap stocks will greatly increase your chances of success.