I cringe every time I hear a novice investor tell me that they only purchase low priced stocks because they offer higher potential gains. A common phase I hear is “I like to buy $1 and $2 stocks because they can double easily and I will make a 100% profit”.
My reaction is to always let these people know that “stocks are priced low for a reason, just as stocks priced high are there for a reason”.
Like anything in life, quality is never offered at a discount. When I am in the market for a car, I don’t expect to purchase a Mercedes for the price of a Pinto. No pun directed towards Pinto car owners as I am just providing an example.
Stocks are valued at their current market value or perceived value under the current situations. A $1.00 stock is trading at this level because it is only worth this much in investor’s eyes. A stock priced at $50 or $100 is trading at these levels because of a quality that the lower priced stock does not have. Institutions, such as mutual funds, will not purchase a stock at $1 based on strict internal rules and fund guidelines. Stocks move based on vast amounts of support from institutions that have the buying power to propel prices 100%, 200% or more in less than 12 months.
A quick study of stock market history will prove that the majority of stocks priced at $2 or less will be de-listed or bankrupt before they ever give an investor a triple digit return. High quality stocks are typically representative of high quality companies that usually have innovative products or services that are increasing revenues and earnings thus peaking institutional interest. I have seen more stocks double or triple from the $20-$50 range than any other price level during the past five years.
A stock going up 25% in one month’s time is the same whether it is from $5 to $6.25 or $60 to $75. It happens every year. The novice investor is usually hesitant to buy a stock that is priced at $50 or more as it looks too expensive to the untrained eye. What’s expensive to an uneducated investor may be a bargain to an educated investor.
Always buy the stock that presents the highest probability of success based on both fundamental and technical analysis. The price should never matter nor should the lot size. A 25% gain will always be the same whether you buy a $2 stock with 5000 shares or a $100 stock with 100 shares.
I agree that the chances for a quick 25% gain on a $5 stock seems greater than a 25% gain for a $100 stock but it’s also much greater for a 25% slide on the $5 stock than it is for $100 stock. Your downside protection is limited with a low priced stock as it can move quickly and present you with an illiquid position that a higher quality stock may not present.
Here is a very basic example:
If you buy a $2 stock and it gains $1 in two months, you now have a 50% gain. But, if the stock falls $1 in two weeks, you now have a huge 50% loss in your portfolio, a number that usually devastates most traders.
If you buy a $60 stock and it gains $30 in two months, you will have a 50% gain. Now, if the stock starts to fall rapidly and is now down $10 in a few days, you still have a chance to sell the stock within 10% of your purchase price and prevent further loss and devastation to your portfolio. You, the investor will most likely be able to spot negative action or red flags and get out quickly enough without the sudden 50% drop that the lower priced stock could blindside you with.
Don’t buy a stock based on low prices or a quantity of shares. Always buy a stock based on quality looking towards the fundamentals and technicals and the price and volume action. Study our archives and look at the number of stocks that have gone on to tremendous gains from the $20, $30 and $40+ levels.