When you open a typical stock trading account with a brokerage firm you are expected (with certain exceptions) to purchase stocks in blocks of 100 shares at a time. For many people this simply isn't practical or affordable. To solve this problem several companies have sprung up that allow the average person to buy just one single share of stock at a time. The reasons for buying single shares are many--from unique gifts to allowing for participation at stockholder meetings to allowing for enrollment in DRIP (automatic investment of dividends), which allows you to purchase as much or as little stock as you wish directly from the company without paying a hefty broker's commission.
Go to Frame A Share or Single Share. Both of these companies allow you to purchase a single share of stock and to have the certificate framed and mailed to you. Framed single shares make excellent gifts for everyone from newborns to the person who already has everything.
Open an account with Share Builders (ING Direct Bank). Opening a Basic Account allows you to purchase single shares of stock with no minimum monthly purchase.
Contact the company you are interested in and ask if it offers a Direct Share Purchase Plan. Over 1,500 companies allow individual investors to purchase shares directly from them without going through a broker (and without paying a broker's fee). You can get a list of around 700 Direct Purchase companies through the website Wall-Street.com.
When opening a direct purchase account ask if there are fees associated with the purchase of stock. Not all companies charge a fee, but several do. If a stock pays a dividend the dividend will be sent to the name and address you specify.