Everything You Need to Know About Stocks

by Luke Arthur ; Updated April 19, 2017

The stock market represents one of the most fundamental types of investment available. Many investors make up the majority of their portfolio with stocks. Even though the stock market is commonly used by many investors, you may not know the basics of how this market works. If you are interested in investing in the stock market, some basic knowledge is required first.

What Exactly Are Stocks?

While the basic idea behind stocks is that you buy and sell them for profit, they are not simply certificates that you get from companies or numbers on a computer screen. When you buy a share of a company, you actually become a partial owner in a company. That share of stock represents a share of ownership in every piece of equipment and asset that the company has. This share of stock also gives you a vote in important matters for the company.

Earnings Are Important

When you are thinking about investing in a company, one of the most important things to look at is the earnings. The earnings of a company tell you how much money the company brings in. Earnings are one of the primary factors that drives price in the stock market. When a stock price shoots up in value, it is usually because of a positive earnings report. The price-earnings ratio is a fundamental ratio that investors use to gauge the value of the stock. This is calculated by taking the share price of the stock and dividing it by the earnings per share of the company. You can then compare this number to other stocks to see if it is undervalued.


When you invest in stocks, one of the perks that comes with being an investor is the dividend. Dividends are a share of the profits of a company paid out to the investors in the company. Some companies pay dividends regularly while others tend to invest money back into the growth of the company. Some investors like to choose companies that pay regular dividends so that they can receive a passive source of income. This money is paid out on top of the capital appreciation that you can realize by selling your stock.

Types of Investing

Many different strategies for investing in the stock market are available. Most experts would recommend taking a buy and hold approach to your stock trading. This involves buying stock in a solid company and then holding it for numerous years. Another approach that some investors use is to trade stocks rapidly. These investors sometimes buy and sell stocks within the same day to try to realize small amounts of profit. While this can work, you have to be very knowledgeable about the market and how it works.

About the Author

Luke Arthur has been writing professionally since 2004 on a number of different subjects. In addition to writing informative articles, he published a book, "Modern Day Parables," in 2008. Arthur holds a Bachelor of Science in business from Missouri State University.