Investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

With REIT investing, you gain access to income-producing properties without having to own those properties outright. REITs may own several different kinds of properties (e.g. commercial, residential, storage) or focus on just one or two market segments.

Real estate investment trusts or REITs can be a great addition to a portfolio if you’re hoping to diversify. REIT investing might appeal to experienced investors as well as beginners who are looking to move beyond stocks and bonds.

What Is a REIT?

A REIT is a trust that owns different types of properties that generate income. REITs are considered a type of alternative investment, because they don’t move in sync with traditional stock and bond investments.

Some of the options you might find in a REIT can include:

•   Apartment buildings

•   Shopping malls or retail centers

•   Warehouses

•   Self-storage units

•   Office buildings

•   Hotels

•   Healthcare facilities

REITS may focus on a particular geographic area or property market, or only invest in properties that meet a minimum value threshold.

A REIT may be publicly traded, meaning you can buy or sell shares on an exchange the same as you would a stock. They can also be non-traded, or private. Publicly traded and non-traded REITs are required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but non-traded REITs aren’t available on public stock exchanges.

Private REITs aren’t required to register with the SEC. Most anyone can invest in public REITs while private REITs are typically the domain of high-net-worth or wealthy investors.

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How Do REITs Work?

With REIT investing individuals gain access to various types of real estate indirectly. The REIT owns and maintains the property, collecting rental income (or mortgage interest).

Investors can buy shares in the REIT, which then pays out a portion of the collected income to them as dividends.

To sum it up: REITs let investors reap the benefits of real estate investing without having to buy property themselves.

REIT Qualifications

Certain guidelines must be met for an entity to qualify as a REIT. The majority of assets must be connected to real estate investment. At least 90% of taxable income must be distributed to shareholders annually as dividend payouts.

Additionally, the REIT must:

•   Be organized in a way that would make it taxable as a corporation if not for its REIT status

•   Have a board of trustees or directors who oversee its management

•   Have shares that are fully transferable

•   Have at least 100 shareholders after its first 100 as a REIT

•   Allow no more than 50% of its shares to be held by five or fewer individuals during the last half of the taxable year

•   Invest at least 75% of assets in real estate and cash

•   Generate at least 75% of its gross income from real estate, including rents and mortgage interest

Following these rules allows REITs to avoid having to pay corporate tax. That benefits the REIT but it also creates a secondary boon for investors, since the REIT may be better positioned to grow and pay out larger dividends over time.

Types of REITs

The SEC classifies three categories of REITs: equity, mortgage, and hybrid. Each type of REIT may be publicly traded, non-traded, or private. Here’s a quick comparison of each one.

•   Equity REITs own properties that produce income. For example, an equity REIT might own several office buildings with units leased to multiple tenants. Those buildings generate income through the rent the tenants pay to the REIT.

•   Mortgage REITs don’t own property. Instead, they generate income from the interest on mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. The main thing to know about mortgage REITs is that they can potentially produce higher yields for investors, but they can also be riskier investments.

•   Hybrid REITs own income-producing properties as well as commercial mortgages. So you get the best (and potentially, the worst) of both worlds in a single investment vehicle.

Aside from these classifications, REITs can also be viewed in terms of the types of property they invest in. For example, there are storage-unit REITs, office building REITs, retail REITs, healthcare REITS, and more.

Some REITs specialize in owning land instead of property. For example, you might be able to own a stake in timberland or farmland through a real estate investment trust.

How Do REITs Make Money?

REITs make money from the income of the underlying properties they own. Again, those income sources can include:

•   Rental income

•   Interest from mortgages

•   Sale of properties

As far as how much money a REIT can generate, it depends on a mix of factors, including the size of the REIT’s portfolio, its investment strategy, and overall economic conditions.

Reviewing the prospectus of any REIT you’re considering investing in can give you a better idea of how it operates. One thing to keep in mind with REITs or any other type of investment is that past performance is not an indicator of future returns.

How to Invest in REITs

There are a few ways to invest in REITs if you’re interested in adding them to your portfolio. You can find them offered through brokerages and it’s easy to open a trading account if you don’t have one yet.

REIT Shares

The first option for investing in REITs is to buy shares on an exchange. You can browse the list of REITs available through your brokerage, decide how many shares you want to buy, and execute the trade. When comparing REITs, consider what it owns, the potential risks, and how much you’ll need to invest initially.

You might buy shares of just one REIT or several. If you’re buying multiple REITs that each hold a variety of property types, it’s a good idea to review them carefully. Otherwise, you could end up increasing your risk if you’re overexposed to a particular property sector.

REIT Funds

REIT mutual funds allow you to own a collection or basket of investments in a single vehicle. Buying a mutual fund focused on REITs may be preferable if you’d like to diversify with multiple property types.

When researching REIT funds, consider the underlying property investments and also check the expense ratio. The expense ratio represents the annual cost of owning the fund. The lower this fee is, the more of your investment returns you get to keep.

Again, you can find REIT mutual funds offered through a brokerage. It’s also possible to buy them through a 401(k) or similar workplace retirement plan if they’re on your plan’s list of approved investments.

REIT ETFs

A REIT exchange-traded fund (or ETF) combines features of stocks and mutual funds. An ETF can hold multiple real estate investments while trading on an exchange like a stock.

REIT ETFs may be attractive if you’re looking for an easy way to diversify, or more flexibility when it comes to trading.

In general, ETFs can be more tax-efficient than traditional mutual funds since they have lower turnover. They may also have lower expense ratios.

Benefits and Risks of REITs

Are REITs right for every investor? Not necessarily, and it’s important to consider where they might fit into your portfolio before investing. Weighing the pros and cons can help you decide if REITs make sense for you.

Benefits of REITs

•   Dividends. REITs are required to pay out dividends to shareholders, which can mean a steady stream of income for you should you decide to invest. Some REITs have earned a reputation for paying out dividends well above what even the best dividend stocks have to offer.

•   Diversification. Diversifying your portfolio is helpful for managing risk, and REITs can make that easier to do if you’re specifically interested in property investments. You can get access to dozens of properties or perhaps even more, inside a single investment vehicle.

•   Hands-off investing. Managing actual rental properties yourself can be a headache. Investing in REITs lets you reap some of the benefits of property ownership without all the stress or added responsibility.

•   Market insulation. Real estate generally has a low correlation with stocks. If the market gets bumpy and volatility picks up, REITs can help to smooth the ride a bit until things calm down again.

💡 Quick Tip: It’s smart to invest in a range of assets so that you’re not overly reliant on any one company or market to do well. For example, by investing in different sectors you can add diversification to your portfolio, which may help mitigate some risk factors over time.

Risks of REITs

•   Liquidity challenges. Buying REIT shares may be easy enough, but selling them can be a different matter. You may need to plan to hold on to your shares for a longer period than you’re used to or run into difficulties when trying to trade shares on an exchange.

•   Taxation. REIT investors must pay taxes on the dividends they receive, which are treated as nonqualified for IRS purposes. For that reason, it might make sense to keep REIT investments inside a tax-advantaged IRA to minimize your liability.

•   Interest rate sensitivity. When interest rates rise, that can cause REIT prices to drop. That can make them easier to buy if the entry point is lower, but it can make financing new properties more expensive or lower the value of the investments the REIT owns.

•   Debt. REITs tend to carry a lot of debt, which isn’t unusual. It can become a problem, however, if the REIT can no longer afford to service the debt. That can lead to dividend cuts, making them less attractive to investors.

The Takeaway

REITs can open the door to real estate investment for people who aren’t inclined to go all-in on property ownership. REITs can focus on a single sector, like storage units or retail properties, or a mix. If you’re new to REITs, it’s helpful to research the basics of how they work before diving into the specifics of a particular investment.

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FAQ

How do I buy a REIT?

You can buy shares of a REIT through a broker if it’s publicly traded on an exchange. If you’re trying to buy shares of a private REIT, you can still go through a broker, but you’ll need to find one that’s participating in the offering. Keep in mind that regardless of how you buy a REIT, you’ll need to meet minimum investment requirements to purchase shares.

Can I invest $1,000 in a REIT?

It’s possible to find REITs that allow you to invest with as little as $1,000 and some may have a minimum investment that’s even lower. Keep in mind, however, that private or non-traded REITs may require much larger minimum investments of $10,000 or even $50,000 to buy in.

Can I sell my REIT any time?

If you own shares in a public REIT you can trade them at any time, the same way you could a stock. If you own a private REIT, however, you’ll typically need to wait for a redemption period to sell your shares. Redemption events may occur quarterly or annually and you may pay a redemption fee to sell your shares.

What is the average return on REITs?

The 10-year annualized return for the S&P 500 United States REIT index, which tracks the performance of U.S. REITs, was 2.34%. Like any sector, however, REITs have performed better and worse over time. Also, the performance of different types of REITs (self-storage, strip malls, healthcare, apartments, etc.) can vary widely.


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Black Swan Events and Investing, Explained

Black Swan Events and Investing, Explained

The term “black swan event” is widely used in finance today to describe an unanticipated event that severely impacts the financial markets.

The name stems from the discovery of avian black swans by Dutch explorer De Vlamingh while exploring Australia in the late 1600s. Historians credit de Vlamingh with separating the “expected” (i.e., a white swan, which were plentiful) with the “unexpected” (i.e., a black swan, which was a rare sighting).

Writer, professor and former Wall Street trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb popularized the financial theory of “black swan” events in his 2007 book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

“A black swan is an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences,” Taleb wrote in his book. “Black swan events are characterized by their extreme rarity, their severe impact, and the widespread insistence they were obvious in hindsight.”

Taleb described the occasional — but highly problematic — arrival of black swans on the investment landscape, and outlined what, in his opinion, economists and investors could do to better understand those events and protect assets when they occur.

What Is a Black Swan Event?

According to Taleb, a black swan event is identifiable due to its extreme rarity and to its catastrophic potential damage to life and health, and to economies and markets. Taleb also notes in the book that once a black swan landed and devastated everything in its path, it was obvious in hindsight to recognize the event occurred.

It can be a difficult concept for investors. Who, after all, throughout the history of the stock market, would leave their finances unprotected from a black swan onslaught if they knew the event was imminent? By definition, predicting the arrival of a black swan is largely outside the realm of probability. All anyone needs to know, Taleb maintains, is that black swans occur and investors should not be surprised when they do happen.

Taleb outlines three indicators that signal the arrival of a black swan event. Each is meaningful in truly understanding a black swan scenario.

1.    Black swan events are outliers. No similar and prior event could predict the arrival of a particular black swan.

2.    Black swan events are severe, and they inflict widespread damage. That damage also has a severe impact on economies, cultures, institutions, and on families and communities.

3.    They’re usually seen in the rear view mirror. When black swans occur and eventually dissipate, recriminations take its place. While the specific black swan event wasn’t predicted, observers say the event could have and should have been prevented.

💡 Quick Tip: All investments come with some degree of risk — and some are riskier than others. Before investing online, decide on your investment goals and how much risk you want to take.

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Black Swan Event Examples

It’s become common for politicians and investors to call any negative event a “black swan” event, whether or not it meets Tasam’s definition. However, history has no shortage of true black swan events, which led to large, unpredictable market corrections.

The following events are considered some of the most infamous among economists and historians.

The Soviet Union’s Historic Collapse

Economists consider the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 a major black swan. Only 10 years earlier, the Russian empire was considered a major global economic and military threat. A decade later, the Soviet Union was no more, significantly shifting the global geopolitical and economic stage.

The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

In hindsight, the United States might have seen the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. coming. International terrorism had long been a big risk management issue for the U.S. government, but the severity of the attack left the world stunned – and plunged the U.S. into a serious economic decline. Stocks lost $1.4 trillion in value the week after the attacks.

The Dot-com Bubble

In the late 1990s, investors were indulging in irrational exuberance and nowhere was that more clear than with the nation’s stock market — particularly with white-hot technology stocks. With an army of Internet stocks in the IPO pipeline, overvalued tech stocks plummeted, taking the entire stock market down in the process. The damage was staggering, with the Nasdaq Index losing 78% of its value between March 2000 and October 2002.

The 2008-2009 Financial Crisis

After a series of high-risk derivative bets by major banks, mounting losses in the U.S. mortgage market, and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the U.S. economy teetered on the edge of disaster — a scenario it would take almost a decade to correct. The unemployment rate doubled to more than 10%, domestic product declined 4.3%, and at its worst point, the S&P 500 plummeted 57%, creating a bear market.

It’s worth noting that although some people have referred to the Covid-19 pandemic as a black swan event, Taleb does not consider it to be one since he feels there was enough historical precedence to foresee it.

Why Do Black Swan Events Happen?

Since black swan events are virtually impossible to predict, there is no concrete answer as to why they happen. The world is complicated, with many different factors — political, financial, environmental, and social, among others — impacting one another and setting off chains of events that could potentially become black swan events in scope and magnitude.

💡 Quick Tip: Distributing your money across a range of assets — also known as diversification — can be beneficial for long-term investors. When you put your eggs in many baskets, it may be beneficial if a single asset class goes down.

Can You Predict a Black Swan Event?

By its very definition, it’s nearly impossible to predict a specific black swan event. This makes it hard to prepare for black swans as you would for other investment risks.

Instead, investors may want to focus on making sure they’re prepared, generally, for the unknown. Here’s how to help do that:

•   Be pragmatic. Investors are better off knowing unanticipated negative events do exist and could arrive on their doorstep at any time. Keep in mind the possibility of black swans and consider building an expectation of stock volatility into your overall portfolio-management strategy.

•   Don’t get bogged down by long-term forecasts. Don’t rely solely on expert predictions or far-off investment outlooks, since unexpected events, including black swans can happen at any time and it’s normal for markets to fluctuate. Instead, consider building a more conservative element into your investment portfolio, one that relies more on protecting your assets, so you’re not tempted to make rash moves during a black swan event. Have a candid conversation with your financial advisor, or educate yourself if you don’t have a financial advisor, about how proper diversification may help build a portfolio that balances the need for performance with the need for protection.

•   Don’t panic when a black swan event happens. As tempting as it might be to try to get out of a market during a black swan event and get back in when it fades away, resist the urge to engage in market timing.

•   Look for opportunities. Putting money into the markets during a black swan event can be difficult and potentially risky, but investing in a down market may yield positive returns over the long-term.

Rather than trying to time the market, consider using a dollar-cost averaging strategy, in which you make regular purchases — even during a black swan event.

The Takeaway

For long-term investors, the prudent stance on black swan events is to acknowledge their existence, build some protection into your investment portfolio to help mitigate potential damage, and be ready to take full advantage of a market upturn once the black swan flies away.

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FAQ

What is a black swan event in recent years?

One of the most recent black swan events was the 2008-2009 financial crisis known as the Great Recession. That’s when a series of high-risk derivative bets by major banks, mounting losses in the U.S. mortgage market, and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the biggest U.S. bankruptcy ever, pushed the U.S. economy to the edge of disaster.

What was the biggest black swan event?

The Great Depression of 1929 was probably the most infamous black swan event. It started with the U.S. stock market crash in October 1929 and led to a worldwide drop in stock prices. The U.S. economy shrank by 36% between 1929 and 1933, many banks failed, and the U.S. unemployment rate skyrocketed to more than 25%. It was the longest and most severe economic recession in modern history.

What are the attributes that identify a black swan event?

According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who popularized the black swan theory, the attributes that identify a black swan event are: 1) black swan events are rare and no similar or prior event could predict them, 2) black swan events are severe and inflict widespread damage, and 3) after the fact, observers say the black swan event could have and should have been prevented.


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Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
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What Is a Stock Split? How Does It Affect Investors?

A skyrocketing share price is usually a good thing for a company; investors expect the company to continue growing in the future. However, a stock trading with a hefty price tag may frighten away smaller investors, who may perceive the stock as too rich for their blood. That means many investors might pass over the company’s stock for other stocks with a lower per share price tag.

To combat this, a company may conduct a stock split. This action brings down the price of the company’s stock so that shares look more attractive to more investors, even though the company’s value remains the same. The idea is that investors can invest, and the company gets more marketability and liquidity on the stock market.

Learn more about a stock split and how it works.

What Is a Stock Split?

A stock split is when a company increases the number of its outstanding shares on the stock market, which lowers the price of its shares, but its market capitalization (sometimes referred to as market cap) stays the same. This is also known as a forward stock split.

For example, if an investor owns 10 shares of a company with a stock price of $100 and the company announces a 5-to-1 stock split, the investor will then own 50 shares of the stock trading at $20 per share after the stock split. Despite the split, the shareholder still owns $1,000 worth of stock.

A stock split may also be referred to as a one-time stock dividend, since the company is giving out additional shares to stockholders.

What Is a Reverse Stock Split?

In a reverse stock split, a company swaps each outstanding share of the company’s stock for a fraction of a share. A company often conducts a reverse stock split when the share price is low and the company is looking to increase the share price.

For example, in late July 2021, General Electric (GE) completed a 1-for-8 reverse split of its shares to boost the stock’s share price. The reverse split increased its share price from less than $13 pre-split to more than $100 post-split; the company replaced every eight shares held by an investor with one share.

💡 Quick Tip: Look for an online brokerage with low trading commissions as well as no account minimum. Higher fees can cut into investment returns over time.

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Types of Stock Splits

A number of different ratios can be used to split a stock. When the bigger number comes first in the ratio (such as 2 for 1) it means that the number of outstanding shares will increase—this is a forward stock split. In other words, the stock split ratio can reveal the number of new shares that will be created.

Here are some common stock split types and what they mean.

5 for 1 (5:1)

With a 5 for 1 stock split, for every one share of stock that currently exists, four new shares will be created, for a total of five shares. The share price will adjust downward accordingly, but the company’s market capitalization will stay the same.

2 for 1 (2:1)

In a 2 for 1 stock split, one new share of stock is created for every share that already exists, for a total of two shares. Again, the price for each share will adjust accordingly. A 2 for 1 stock split is one of the most common stock splits.

3 for 1 (3:1)

With a 3 for 1 split, for every share of existing stock, two more shares of stock are created, for a total of 3 shares.

3 for 2 (3:2)

Another fairly common stock split is the 3 for 2 split. In this case, one new share of stock is created for two already-existing shares, for a total of three shares.

Why Do Companies Conduct Stock Splits?

Companies will often split their stock when the share price gets too high. By splitting the stock, a company lowers its share price and makes it more affordable to retail investors, even though the company’s value stays the same.

For example, retail investors may be more likely to buy a chunk of shares of a stock trading at $20 rather than shares trading at $100 or more. This move to reduce the individual share price helps increase the stock’s liquidity in the market.

Pros and Cons of Stock Splits

There are several potential benefits of stock splits, but there are some possible disadvantages of the practice as well.

Pros

Some advantages of a stock split include:

The stock may become more accessible to more investors.

If a stock’s price is very high, smaller investors may be less likely to buy it. Splitting the stock and making it more affordable can result in more investors purchasing the stock.

The stock may have greater liquidity.

Creating more outstanding shares of the stock can make it easier to buy and sell it. For many investors, greater liquidity means they can more readily access their money by selling the stock if they need the funds. Liquidity is typically an important consideration when building a portfolio.

The stock’s price may rise.

Companies that undergo a stock split often do so because their stock price is rising, signaling investor confidence in the company. So, the announcement of a stock split is an indication that the company is doing well. Investors may want to put money into the company, pushing the share price up even before the stock split.

Following the stock split, the stock’s share price may go up because the lower price makes it more affordable to smaller retail investors that may not be able to purchase shares at, say, a $1,000 price. There becomes an increased demand for the lower share price.

Cons

Stock splits can also have drawbacks, such as:

Expensive and complicated.

In order to conduct a stock split, a company must get legal oversight of the process and meet regulatory requirements, which can be costly. A stock split does not change the company’s market cap, so the company must determine whether a split is worth the expense involved.

May attract too many investors.

A company may prefer to keep ownership of its shares exclusive. However, with a stock split, many more investors may be able to afford to buy the stock, meaning the shares would lose their exclusive equity ownership.

Potential for the share price to drop in the future.

It’s possible that once a stock is split and its share price is reduced, the price might drop even lower in the future, which lowers the value of the stock. For instance, if a company’s performance suffers, the face value of the stock might drop more in response.

Examples of Stock Splits Throughout History

Here are some notable stock splits from the last couple of decades:

•   Apple (AAPL): The computer giant split its stock by a 4-to-1 ratio in August 2020. Prior to the split, the stock was trading at around $500. After the split, the stock traded at about $124.

•   Netflix (NFLX): The entertainment company announced a 7-to-1 stock split in July 2015. Before the split, the stock was trading at nearly $800 per share. After the split, the stock traded at about $114.

•   Nike (NKE): The sports apparel company split its stock by a 2-to-1 ratio in December 2015. Prior to the split, the stock was trading at around $128 per share. After the split the stock traded at about $64 per share.

•   Nvidia (NVDA): The technology company engaged in a 4-to-1 stock split in July 2021. Before the split, Apple’s stock was trading at around $750, and after the split, the shares were priced near $187.

•   Tesla (TSLA): The electric car manufacturer split its stock by a 5-to-1 ratio in August 2020. Before the split, the stock was trading at around $2,200. After the split, the stock traded at around $440. Tesla’s shares rallied during the next two years, so the company declared a 3-to-1 stock split in August 2022, bringing the stock price down to around $300 from nearly $900 per share.

💡 Quick Tip: Distributing your money across a range of assets — also known as diversification — can be beneficial for long-term investors. When you put your eggs in many baskets, it may be beneficial if a single asset class goes down.

What Happens When a Stock You Own Splits?

If an investor owns stock in a company that announces a split, it will not materially affect the investment. As mentioned above, if an investor owns $1,000 worth of stock and a company splits its stock, an investor will still own $1,000 worth of stock after the split.

The additional shares at the lower share price will be automatically added to an investor’s account by the broker.

A stock split does not dilute the ownership of existing shareholders like a new stock issue may do. After a stock split, an investor still owns the same percentage of the company.

Recommended: Understanding Stock Dilution

The Takeaway

When a company announces a stock split, it can be tempting for investors to buy the stock because it will be more affordable on a per share basis. However, investors should be wary of making rash decisions simply because a stock may look more affordable and attractive. After all, the value of the company is still the same.

For most investors, it’s wise to make financial decisions that line up with their long-term investment and wealth-building goals, regardless of a stock’s price tag.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).


Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.

FAQ

Are stock splits a good thing?

Generally, a stock split is considered to be a good thing. It typically happens when the price of a company’s stock is high. The high price and value of the stock tends to be a positive sign reflecting that the company is doing well. Splitting the stock may encourage more investment in it, which could then drive up the price of the stock and be beneficial.

Do stocks do better after a split?

It is possible that a stock might do better after a split, but this isn’t always the case. The stock may be bought by more investors, which could drive up its share price. But even after a stock split, the company’s market capitalization doesn’t change. And it’s possible that a stock could drop in price after a split.

Is a stock split bullish or bearish?

A forward stock split, in which more shares of stock are created, is generally considered bullish, since it typically indicates that the company is performing well. However, a reverse stock split, which reduces the total number of shares of a stock, is usually considered bearish, since it may indicate that a company has underperformed.


Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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What Is Market Value? How to Calculate and Use It

Market Value: Definition and Methods to Calculate It

Market value is a common term used in value investing to describe how much a company or asset is worth on exchanges and financial markets. Essentially it is the value of a security in the eyes of market investors. Understanding the current standing of a business in its particular industry and the broader market is important when making investing decisions.

What Is Market Value?

Market value, also referred to as OMV, market capitalization, or “open market valuation,” is the price of an asset in an investment marketplace or the value the asset has within a community of investors. It is calculated by multiplying current share price in a marketplace by the number of outstanding shares. Read on to learn what market value is and how to calculate market value.

The market value represents the price that investors will pay for an asset, and therefore changes significantly over time. The more investors will pay for the asset, the higher the market value.

What investors are willing to pay depends on various factors, including the fundamentals of the asset itself, as well as the business cycle and current levels of demand for that asset. Market value could be anything from under $1 million for small businesses to more than $1 trillion for large corporations.

It’s easy to determine the market value of frequently traded assets (by looking at their current prices), but harder to determine the market value of illiquid assets, such as real estate or a company, that don’t trade very often. Market value per share is a company’s market value divided by its number of shares.

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Factors that Impact Market Value

Many factors determine market value, including a company’s profitability and its debt levels. Market value fluctuates significantly over time. Market values often move in tandem with the overall market sentiment.

During bull markets or economic expansions, market values often increase, and during bear markets they go down. Other factors influencing market value include:

•   The company’s performance

•   Long-term growth potential

•   Supply and demand of the asset

•   Company profitability

•   Company debt

•   Overall market trends

•   Industry trends

•   Valuation ratios such as earnings per share, book value per share, and price-to-earnings ratio (P/E ratio)

Earnings per Share

The higher a company’s earnings per share, the more profitable it is. A more profitable business has a higher market value, and vice versa.

Book Value per Share

Investors calculate a company’s book value per share by dividing its equity by its total outstanding shares. A company with a higher book value than market value may have an undervalued stock.

Price-to-Earnings Ratio (P/E Ratio)

Investors calculate P/E ratio by dividing a company’s current stock price by its earnings per share amount. A higher P/E ratio means a stock’s price market value might be high relative to its earnings.

💡 Quick Tip: When you’re actively investing in stocks, it’s important to ask what types of fees you might have to pay. For example, brokers may charge a flat fee for trading stocks, or require some commission for every trade. Taking the time to manage investment costs can be beneficial over the long term.

How Is Market Value Calculated?

There are multiple ways to calculate market value. Here’s a look at a few of them:

Income method

There are two methods of calculating market value using income:

•   Discounted Cash Flow (DCF): To find discounted cash flow, investors project a company’s future cash flow and then discount it to find its present value. The amount it gets discounted reflects current market interest rates along with the amount of risk the business has.

•   Capitalized Earnings Method: With capitalized earnings, investors find the value of a stable, income-producing property by taking its net operating income over time and dividing it by the capitalization rate. The capitalization rate is an estimate of how much potential return on investment the asset has.

Assets Method

Using the assets approach, investors find an asset’s fair market value (FMV) by determining how many liabilities and adjusted assets a company has, including intangible assets, unrecorded liabilities, and off-balance sheet assets.

Market method

Using a market-based approach, there are a few more ways market value can be determined:

•   Public Company Comparable: This company compares similar businesses that are in the same industry or region and about the same size. Ratios like P/E, EV/Revenue, and EV/EBITDA can help compare all the similar companies.

•   Precedent Transactions: Using the precedent transactions method, market value reflects how much investors paid for other similar company’s stock in previous transactions. Investors can get a sense of how much a company’s value is by looking at similar companies.

Example of Market Value

Using the capitalized earnings valuation method, here’s an example of the market value calculation. The formula used when calculating via capitalized earnings is as such:

Market value = Earnings/capitalization rate

Earnings are rather self-explanatory, and the capitalization rate is the required rate of return for investors, a number reached by subtracting a company’s expected growth rate from the investor’s expected rate of return. For this example, we’ll make things simple and say that the capitalization rate is 10%, and the company’s earnings are $1 million

Using the formula: Market value = $1 million/10%

That calculates to $10,000,000.

💡 Quick Tip: Look for an online brokerage with low trading commissions as well as no account minimum. Higher fees can cut into investment returns over time.

Limitations of Market Value

Market value is a very useful tool for understanding how much a company is worth and whether it is a good time to invest or sell its stock. However, it has a few limitations:

•   Fluctuation: Company stocks go up and down every day, and, therefore market value also always changes. Various factors affect market value, and it is very dynamic, which is important for investors to keep in mind when making trading decisions.

•   Precedent data: It’s easier to find market value for established businesses because it requires historical pricing data to find it. New businesses don’t have such data, making it harder for investors to determine their market value.

The Takeaway

Market value is very useful for analyzing a stock. It is easiest to calculate market value of assets such as stocks and futures that are traded on exchanges because it is easy to access their market prices. Market value for less frequently traded assets can be difficult and requires some assumptions and calculations.

Calculating market value can be useful for investors of all stripes, but it can be easy to get lost in the math. Be sure to double-check your math and consider the limitations of market value before making investing decisions.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.

FAQ

Is market value the same as market capitalization?

Market value is the price at which a buyer purchases an asset, and can refer to a company or a security such as a stock, future, or asset. Market cap is the value of the total number of outstanding shares of a company, based on their current market value.

Is market value the same as book value?

Market value and book value per share, or explicit value, are different and can be very different amounts, but they are often used in conjunction by investors looking to gain an understanding of an asset’s value. Book value is the net value of a company’s balance sheet assets, while market value is the price at which a buyer purchases an asset.


Photo credit: iStock/SeventyFour

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

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What is the Greenshoe Option? Definition & How it Works

What is the Greenshoe Option? Definition & How it Works

The greenshoe option allows underwriters involved with IPOs to sell more shares than initially agreed upon: usually up to 15% more. That can occur if there is enough investor demand to purchase the shares.

Because IPO share prices can be volatile, the greenshoe option is an important tool that can help underwriters stabilize the price of a newly listed stock to protect both the company and investors.

Understanding the Greenshoe Option

Also called the over-allotment option, the greenshoe provision is part of an underwriting agreement between an underwriter and a company issuing stock as part of an IPO, or initial public offering. The greenshoe option is the only type of price stabilization allowed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The SEC allows this because it increases competitiveness and efficiency of IPO fundraising. It gives underwriters the ability to stabilize security prices by increasing the available supply. It is the responsibility of an underwriter to help sell shares, build a market for a new stock, and use the tools at their disposal to launch a successful initial public offering.

The greenshoe option got its name when the Green Shoe Manufacturing Company was issued the first over-allotment options in 1919.

💡 Quick Tip: Access to IPO shares before they trade on public exchanges has usually been available only to large institutional investors. That’s changing now, and some brokerages offer pre-listing IPO investing to qualified investors.

How Does a Greenshoe Option Work?

During the IPO process, stock issuers set limits on how many shares they will sell to investors during an IPO. With a greenshoe option, the IPO underwriter can sell up to 15% more shares than the set amount.

IPO underwriters want to sell as many shares as they can because they earn on commission as a percentage of IPO sales.

All of the details about an IPO sale and underwriter abilities appear in the prospectus filed by the issuing company before the sale. Not every company allows their investment banker to use the greenshoe option. For instance, if they only want to raise a specific amount of capital, they wouldn’t want to sell any more shares than necessary to raise that money.

There are two ways an underwriter can over allot sales:

At the IPO Price

If the IPO they are underwriting is doing well, investors are buying IPO shares and the price is going up, the underwriter can use the greenshoe option to purchase up to 15% more stock from the issuing company at the IPO price and sell that stock to investors at the higher market price for a profit.

A Break Issue

Conversely, if an IPO isn’t doing well, the underwriter can take a short position on up to 15% of the issued stock and buy back shares from the market to stabilize the price and cover their position.

The underwriter then returns those additional shares to the issuing company. This is known as a “break issue.” When an IPO isn’t performing well, this can reduce consumer confidence in the stock, and result in investors either selling their shares or refraining from buying them.

The greenshoe option helps the underwriter stabilize the stock price and reduce stock volatility.

Types of Greenshoe Options

There are three types of greenshoe options an underwriter might choose to use depending on what happens after an IPO launches. These options are:

Full Greenshoe

If the underwriter can’t buy back any shares before the stock price increases, this is known as a full greenshoe. In this case, the underwriter buys shares at the current offering price.

Partial Greenshoe

In a partial greenshoe scenario, the underwriter only buys back some of the stock inventory they started with in order to increase the share price.

Reverse Greenshoe

The third option for underwriters is to purchase shares from market investors and sell them back to the stock issuer if the share price has dipped below the original offering price. This is similar to a put option in stock trading.

Recommended: How Are IPO Prices Set?

Greenshoe Option Examples

Here’s an example of how a greenshoe option might work in real life.

Once the IPO company owners, underwriter, and clients determine the offering or initial price of the newly issued shares, they’re ready to be traded on the public market. Ideally, the share price will rise above offering, but if the shares fall below the offering price the underwriter can exercise the greenshoe option (assuming the company had approved it in the prospectus).

To control the price, the underwrite can short up to 15% more shares than were part of the original IPO offering.

Let’s say a company’s initial public offering is going to be 10 million shares. The underwriters can sell up to 15% over that amount, or 1.5 million more shares, thus giving underwriters the ability to increase or decrease the supply as needed — adding to liquidity and helping to control price stability.

💡 Quick Tip: Investment fees are assessed in different ways, including trading costs, account management fees, and possibly broker commissions. When you set up an investment account, be sure to get the exact breakdown of your “all-in costs” so you know what you’re paying.

What the Greenshoe Option Means for IPO Investors

The greenshoe option is an important tool for underwriters that can help with the success of an IPO and bring additional funds to the issuing company. It reduces risk for the issuing company as well as investors. It can maintain IPO investor confidence in a newly issued stock which helps to build a long-term group of shareholders.

Although buying IPO stocks can be very profitable, stock prices don’t always increase and sometimes they can be volatile. It’s important for investors to research a company, look at the IPO prospectus, understand what the stock lock-up period and greenshoe options are before deciding to buy.

The Takeaway

Buying shares in IPOs can be a great way to invest in companies right when they go public. Although IPO investing comes with some risks, and IPO stock can be volatile, investment banks and companies going public use tools such as the greenshoe option to minimize volatility.

Whether you’re curious about exploring IPOs, or interested in traditional stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), you can get started by opening an account on the SoFi Invest® brokerage platform. On SoFi Invest, eligible SoFi members have the opportunity to trade IPO shares, and there are no account minimums for those with an Active Investing account. As with any investment, it's wise to consider your overall portfolio goals in order to assess whether IPO investing is right for you, given the risks of volatility and loss.


For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.


Photo credit: iStock/AzmanJaka

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Investing in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) involves substantial risk, including the risk of loss. Further, there are a variety of risk factors to consider when investing in an IPO, including but not limited to, unproven management, significant debt, and lack of operating history. For a comprehensive discussion of these risks please refer to SoFi Securities’ IPO Risk Disclosure Statement. IPOs offered through SoFi Securities are not a recommendation and investors should carefully read the offering prospectus to determine whether an offering is consistent with their investment objectives, risk tolerance, and financial situation.

New offerings generally have high demand and there are a limited number of shares available for distribution to participants. Many customers may not be allocated shares and share allocations may be significantly smaller than the shares requested in the customer’s initial offer (Indication of Interest). For SoFi’s allocation procedures please refer to IPO Allocation Procedures.


Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Disclaimer: The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

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