What’s a small-cap stock?
A small-cap stock is a public company share whose market capitalization, or total market value, is between $250 million and $2 billion. The exact numbers vary.
Most small-cap stock investors look for young, fast-growing companies that are on the rise. In other words, they want to find the big stocks of the future.
Understanding Small-Cap Stocks
Capitalization is what “cap” in “small-cap” stands for. Market capitalization is the full name of the term.
It is what the market thinks the total dollar value of a company’s shares is right now. To figure out a company’s market capitalization, multiply the current price of a share by the number of shares still in circulation.
“Large-cap” and “small-cap” are rough categories that change over time. Also, brokers may have different ideas about what makes a stock small-cap or large-cap.
Some people think that small-cap stocks are from startups or companies that just started up. In reality, many small-cap stocks are for businesses that have been around for a long time, have a strong track record, and have sound financials. Small-cap stock prices have a better chance of increasing because the companies are smaller.
Small-Cap Stocks vs. Large-Cap Stocks: Which is the Better Investment?
In general, small-cap stock companies offer investors more room for growth but also come with more risk and volatility than large-cap stock companies.
The market value of a large-cap offering is at least $10 billion. Large-cap stock companies like General Electric (GE) and Coca-Cola Co. (KO) may have reached the end of their aggressive growth phases. Investors get stability and dividends from these companies but rarely see fast growth.
Small-cap stocks have done better than large-cap stocks in the past. Still, whether smaller or bigger companies do better depends on the economy and changes over time.
During the tech bubble of the 1990s, investors were most interested in large-cap stock companies like Microsoft (MSFT), Cisco (CSCO), and AOL Time Warner. After the bubble burst in March 2000, small-cap stocks did better than large-cap stocks, which lost a lot of value during the crash.
When you buy small-cap stocks, you can beat institutional investors, which is a benefit. Many mutual funds can’t buy stocks from small-cap companies because of their own rules. Also, the Investment Company Act of 1940 says that mutual funds can’t own more than 10% of a company’s voting stock. It makes it hard for mutual funds to buy enough small-cap stocks to make a difference.
A micro-cap is a stock that isn’t as big as a small-cap. That company is traded on the stock market, and its market capitalization is between $50 million and $300 million.
Small-Cap Stock vs. Mid-Cap Stock
Mid-cap stocks, which have market capitalizations between $2 billion and $10 billion, give investors the best of both worlds. In the past, these companies have been more stable than small-cap stock companies but had more potential for growth than large-cap stock companies.
But for self-directed investors, it can be worth their time to look through small caps to find a diamond in the rough. Even though we have a lot of data, investors often miss great small-cap investments because analysts talk little about them.
Small-Cap Stock vs. Penny Stock
Small-cap and penny stocks are worth less on the market than large- or mid-cap stocks. Penny stocks are small-cap stocks because they have small market capitalizations. But certain things make a stock a “penny stock” that not all “small-cap” stocks have.
Penny stocks have prices per share that are less than $5. Some of them are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Most, though, are traded directly, not through a stock exchange. It is called “over the counter” or “pink sheets.” Penny stocks are high-risk investments because of the following:
- Low cost
- Lack of liquidity
- Wide bid-ask spread
Small-cap stocks differ from penny stocks because each share can cost more than $5. They are grouped based on how much money they have on the market.
Advantages and disadvantages of small-cap stocks
Pros small-cap stocks
- Possible room for growth
- The share price goes down.
- Several businesses
- Less popular
Cons of small-cap stocks
- Volatile prices
- High risk
- Less available information
- Low liquidity
What’s good about small-cap stocks
Different businesses: Small-cap companies are more than just new companies. They are in all kinds of businesses, many of which have been around for a long time. This gives people a lot of ways to invest.
Growth potential: Since these companies are smaller, they have more growth potential than big companies. This means that people who buy them could make a lot of money from them.
Small-cap stocks often have lower share prices, which makes it easier for you to make your first investment. And mutual funds or hedge funds can’t make share prices go up artificially because financial institutions can’t put much money into them because of rules.
Less popular: Small-cap companies are less well-known than large- and mid-cap companies because there is less information about them. This means that they are often sold for less than they are worth and can give you a good return on your money.
What’s bad about small-cap stocks
Small-cap companies have a lot of growth potential, but they also have a high chance of failing. When it comes to investing, small-cap stocks are riskier than large-cap stocks. Most of the time, these companies have less access to investment capital and are more affected by changes in the market. This makes them riskier to buy.
Less available information: Analysts and financial institutions pay less attention to small-cap companies than large-cap and mid-cap companies. So, before you invest, you need to know a lot about how to value a company and have time to do your research.
Prices that change a lot: Smaller companies are more affected by changes in the market because they have less money to fall back on than their larger competitors. Because of this, the prices of small-cap stocks can change quickly and by a lot.
Small-cap companies have less liquid stock because they are smaller and less well-known. When you want to buy shares in a less well-known company, it can be harder to find a seller. When you want to get out of the market, selling shares can also be harder.
How to buy small-company stocks
You can invest in small-cap stocks if you have the time and knowledge to learn about each company and its stock. The only way to buy their stock is through a brokerage account. Before putting money into a company, you should look into the following:
Price-to-sales ratio: If the company doesn’t have any earnings per share yet, you can use the P/S ratio to see how it compares to other small-cap stocks.
Earnings and revenue growth: Even if a company isn’t making a profit, you want to see it grow and bring in more money.
Earnings to price ratio: The P/E ratio measures the value of a company’s shares by comparing the current share price to the earnings per share.
If researching small-cap stocks one by one takes too much time or seems too risky, you can buy small-cap mutual funds or exchange-traded funds instead (ETFs). These could follow broad small-cap indexes, specific small-cap industries, or investment goals like value or growth.
Small-Cap Stock Indexes
Small-cap stock index funds, which track the U.S. small-cap market, are available from many brokerages as mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Depending on your brokerage, you could invest in the Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund (VSMX) or the Fidelity Small-Cap Index Fund (FSSNX).
However two main small-cap indexes are used as benchmarks for the small-cap equity market.
The Russell 2000 is a stock market index
The Russell 2000 is a small-cap stock market index made up of the 2000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000. The index is often used to measure how well small-cap stock mutual funds are doing. The FTSE Russell Group runs it in London.
Many mutual funds and ETFs use the Russell 2000 because it tracks a large part of the small-cap market. It has a lot of financial, industrial, and healthcare stocks in it.
Standard & Poor’s came up with the S&P SmallCap 600 Index (the creator of the S&P 500). It follows the performance of small-cap stocks on the U.S. stock market using a capitalization-weighted index. It has 600 businesses, about 3% of the U.S. market.
The S&P 600 requires earnings, which is different from many other small-cap benchmarks. This is done to ensure that the stocks in the index are reasonable and protect against volatility. For a company to be included, its market value must be between $750 million and $4.6 billion. It also has to:
- Be an American company
- Keep at least 10% of its shares in circulation.
- I have made money in the most recent quarter and the four quarters before that.
Is it a good idea to buy small-cap stocks?
You can make money by buying small-cap stocks. They usually have much more growth potential than large-cap stocks or “blue chip” companies, so an investor who buys them reasonably may get a good return. Small-cap stocks are riskier and more volatile than the stocks of larger, more established companies, so investors need to be extra careful when analyzing them before making any investment decisions.
Small-cap stocks or mid-cap stocks?
It depends on whether small-cap or mid-cap stocks are better for the company. Any small or mid-sized company with good fundamentals, a strong business plan, smart leadership, and a competitive edge can be a good investment. Small-cap stocks have more growth potential than mid-cap stocks, so that investors may get a better return. However, small-cap stocks are riskier and more volatile than mid-cap stocks, so the chance of losing money is higher.
Is small-cap an excellent long-term investment?
Yes, in the long run, small-cap stocks can be good. If you can find a small-cap stock with good fundamentals and good overall analysis, the stock will grow over time. If you can invest before the market goes up and keep the stock for a long time, you could make a lot of money.
Small-cap stocks have a market capitalization between $300 million and $2 billion. These companies are good places for investors to put their money because they have the potential for big growth and could become large-cap stock companies.
Investors take on more risk with small-cap stocks because they have more upside potential than large-cap stocks. Conversely, small-cap stocks have historically done better than large-cap stocks. Before investing in a small company to make a lot of money in the future, investors should carefully look at it to see if it has the potential to grow.