Over the counter stocks typically fall into two categories: they are companies that have been delisted from one of the major exchanges or small-cap start-up companies that do not yet qualify for a listing on the major exchanges. Bid and ask prices for OTC stocks can be found on ‘Pink Sheets’ and the OTC Bulletin Board. The asking price for a penny or OTC stock is simply the price the stockholder would like to receive. The bid price is the offer price made by investors, and OTC sellers or market makers can accept the bid price, refuse it, or ask a new price for the stock. As an investor, you can then choose to purchase the stock or pass it up.
Penny stocks do not have a specific definition, but the majority of investors classify them as stocks that trade under $5. Also known as microcap stocks, penny or OTC stocks are also more difficult to research because they typically do not publish as much statistical data as stocks listed on the major stock exchanges.
In general, these companies are smaller or have experienced recent problems. Therefore, you need to research each company you are interested in by using the OTC Research Corporation, which can be found at www.otcgsw.com, or other valid references in order to find projections, operational results, and expert opinions on the potential of an OTC stock and the company it represents.
Open a Brokerage Account
After performing your due diligence and choosing a potential growth stock, the next step to trade OTC stocks is to open a brokerage account. You can either choose a full-service broker or an online discount broker to facilitate your investments. However, you should know that not all brokers provide trading for OTC stocks, so you must ensure the broker you choose allows OTC trading beforehand. After selecting a broker, he or she will work directly with the market maker to ensure the successful completion of the transaction.
After placing a market order with your broker of choice, the broker then contacts the market maker of the respective security, who will provide the broker with a quote of the asking price they would be willing to sell the stock at. It’s important to note that you can constantly monitor the bid and ask quotes through the OTC Bulletin Board, or OTCBB.
Since it was a market order, the broker must accept the quoted price. After accepting the asking price, or after a market maker accepts your bid price, the broker will then transfer the funds to the account of the market maker, who will then credit the broker with the respective stocks. As an investor, you also have the ability to place a limit or stop orders on OTC stocks to operate within your risk management parameters. You will experience a similar process whenever you choose to sell an OTC stock.
While investing in a penny or Over The Counter stocks may seem like a rather simple way to exponentially increase the size of your trading account, it’s important to keep in mind that they are more volatile and riskier than stocks listed on the major exchanges. In most cases, OTC stocks are offered by extremely small companies with market caps of $50 million or less. Since these companies publish much less information than large companies on the NYSE or NASDAQ, they are also much less liquid, which may make it more difficult to find a buyer.
Due to the lack of information regarding OTC stocks, you should perform as much research as possible before purchasing one of these stocks. Ideally, you should only use brokers that actually own and specialize in penny stocks, because they provide added liquidity and are more familiar with the differences between OTC stocks and major stocks listed on the exchanges.
Companies offering OTC stocks should be thoroughly evaluated to learn whether or not they are fundamentally sound, have outstanding growth potential, or have addressed the former problems that may have led to them being de-listed. Before executing a buy order, review their financial data, especially their working capital, earnings per share, cash flow, and book value.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you are new to the world of penny stocks and the over-the-counter process, you should practice trading these types of stocks beforehand. Fortunately, there are numerous online virtual trading programs that offer you the ability to trade stocks, options, and futures without incurring any financial risk. As you become more familiar with the world of OTC trading, you will begin seeing the vast opportunities that exist right before your eyes.
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