Why trade stocks?

Stocks are one of the most popular asset classes to trade and are a favourite of longer-term traders. We list the key reasons why stocks are such an attractive investment.

Five reasons to trade stocks 

1. Stocks may favour longer-term trades

Compared to forex, stocks can be less volatile on a day-to-day basis. As a result, they may favour traders who prefer to hold trades for longer periods of time.

However, be aware that stock prices can still experience big shocks such as in the event of a merger, scandal or significant profit warnings.

2. Stock CFDs enable price speculation without owning a stock

At FOREX.com, stocks are traded as CFDs. This enables you to speculate on the price of a stock without ever actually owning it.

  • You can go long, meaning that you buy stocks in the expectation that they will rise in price.
  • Or you can go short, meaning that you ‘sell’ the stock in the expectation that the price will fall.

Shorting a stock enables you profit when the price decreases in value. This is not possible in traditional stock trading where you take real ownership of the stock.

It is also worth noting that shorting can be used to hedge any stock exposure you have.

3. Owning stocks may reward you with dividends

Dividends are a financial sweetener for owning a stock.

If you own a stock in a company, that company can reward you with a slice of its profits. They are literally giving you money because you own their stock.

Dividends are used by companies as an incentive for investors to buy and hold its stock.

For example, Microsoft announced in late 2020 that it would be paying shareholders a dividend of $0.56 per share. So, for every share you own, you get 56 cents as a thank you for owning Microsoft shares.

The more shares you own, the bigger the dividend will be.

However, the above applies to owning actual stock, not trading stock CFDs which we provide.

Dividends and Stock CFDs 

When you trade stock CFDs, dividends are not a tangible benefit. 

This is because when a company pays out its dividends on the ex-date, the stock price takes a slight knock; money has flowed out of the company and into the pockets of the shareholders. 

At FOREX.com, we balance the positive effect of the dividend against this dip in the share price. 

What happens is that a dividend adjustment occurs at the close of business before the ex-dividend date. 

  • Long positions are credited 
  • Short positions are debited 

Then all things being equal, the market then opens lower on the ex-date by the dividend amount.

Therefore, the dividend has not impacted your trade or any profit/loss you may have made.

How much money do I get from a dividend?

The size of dividend differs on a company to company basis. Some companies do not offer dividends at all. 

The dividend amount will be decided by the board of directors and will be based on the company’s financial performance and other industry factors.

When are dividends paid?

The timings of the dividends are decided by the board of directors.

Dividends are usually paid out four times a year, but it’s also not uncommon to see frequencies of twice or once a year as well. 

However, some companies have no set dividend schedule. Companies can also issue one-off special dividends.

When you buy a stock, you should always be aware of the ex-dividend date (ex-date). If you buy the stock after the ex-date, you will not be entitled to the dividend. Rather, you will have to hold the stock and wait until when the next dividend is issued.

4. Stocks allow to focus on a specific company

Compared to forex, there are fewer factors that affect the price of a company stock. This enables you to concentrate on the key fundamentals of a company such as profit margins.

5. Stock CFDs give access to leverage

In November 2020, the cost of a single Amazon share was $3,124. This high price puts it out of reach for many retail stock traders.

However, at FOREX.com, you trade stock CFDs, which are leveraged.

Leverage means you only have to put up a fraction of the deposit. At the time of writing, you’d only have to put up 5%* of the $3,100 to trade it.

Please note that although leverage can magnify your profits, it can also magnify your losses. This is a critical trading concept to understand.

*Up to $7,900 trade size