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Understanding & Investing in Stocks


What is a stock?

When you invest in stocks, you own shares in companies. The value of your investments reflects how well those businesses perform. Stocks tend to react faster and longer to market swings, so investors willing to accept more risk may gain more capital appreciation.
  • Have historically realized higher rates of return over longer holding periods, though past performance is no guarantee of future results
  • Are generally appropriate for long-term investors
  • Carry higher growth potential and more risks than other investments
Read article on investing in stocks
Investing in stocks
Learn about ownership in public companies, stocks and how they are categorized.
Merrill Edge Investing
Learn at your own pace with online courses that include:
  • Stocks versus other investments
  • Investing for the long run
  • Learn the lingo — Basic ratios

How stocks fit into your portfolio

Though past performance is no guarantee of future results, the long-term growth potential of stocks can grow the value of portfolios and outpace inflation, which are common objectives of clients who want to invest for college and retirement.
Merrill Edge Investing
You can take online classes that include:
  • The magic of compounding
  • Interpreting the numbers
  • A profile of investor Warren Buffett

How to choose a stock

Whether you're just starting out or seeking fresh ideas, Merrill provides timely and relevant tools and resources to help you along each step of your investing journey.
Read about building a better equity portfolio
Moving ahead:
Building a better
equity portfolio
Ways to take a more strategic approach to building — or rebalancing1 — your equity portfolio.
Play video on investment risk
Investment risk (1:28)
Investing in the stock market is like riding a roller coaster. Realizing long-term gains can be rewarding, but sudden drops and wild market swings can be a little scary. This video can help you prepare for the ups and downs of stock market investing.
Stock definitions
View stock definitions from our Glossary that include:
  • Day's price change
  • Marginable equities
  • Price/earnings ratio
  • Reinvest dividends and capital gains
Merrill Edge Investing
Advanced courses include:
  • The balance sheet
  • The fat-pitch strategy
  • Psychology and investing

Action items for equity investing

Identify your objectives, risk tolerance and time horizon
Decide which stocks match your investor profile
Explore the top equity performers
View equity research and insights from BofA Global Research, BlackRock, CFRA (powered by data from S&P Global) and Morningstar
Search for stocks
Apply search criteria to thousands of stocks with our Stock Screener
Save the search results in your WatchlistPlease login to view content
Carefully review company information
Read more about market capitalization
Analyze your portfolio with our investment tools and calculators
Get price, ratings and earnings alertsPlease login to view content
Access your accounts and market information anytime with our mobile app

Related resources

Let us help you narrow your choices
Merrill Guided Investing — Get a professionally managed portfolio aligned to your goals that's built, monitored and rebalanced by Merrill investment professionals.
Merrill Edge MarketPro®
Use this powerful market analysis and trading tool to monitor your portfolio in real time, easily place trades and view interactive charts on a customizable dashboard.
Stock Screener
You can filter a vast universe of stocks based on specific criteria you choose and adjust.
Go to the Investor Education page
Investor education overview
You can learn about all of the investments we offer based on your level of experience, topic, or the resource format in the Investor Education learning center.
Ready to get started?
Looking for a different approach to investing?
An investment advisory program that combines the best features of online investing with a professionally managed portfolio.Footnote 1
Asset allocation, diversification, and rebalancing do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.
Investing involves risk. There is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities.