The SEC defines a penny stock as a security that is low priced and speculative that is traded in places such as the OTCBB and Pink Sheets. Its not so important if a stock is traded on a major exchange or not since what really makes a penny stock what it is, is the price and not necessarily the exchange which it is traded on. Its anybodys interpretation what exactly is a penny stock since there is no standard figure. Its generally accepted that its anything trading under a dollar. Go figure right. The biggest money to be made in these stocks is in conjunction with any news released about the stock since penny stocks are quite sensitive. Because they are so sensitive, small investors have the advantage.
There is a right way and a wrong way to play these cheap stocks. The thing to keep in mind is that any movement in the stock in general is amplified exponentially in penny stocks. So if the market goes up then penny stocks go up even more. If the market is down then penny stocks are way down. This is a generalization of course but an accurate one. Trading of penny stocks is influenced by the market demand in the OTC rather than the traditional stock exchange processes.
Penny stocks are bought and sold at a number of different prices. This is definitely different than normal trading prices you may be used to. This can become a headache to keep up with if you are doing some online trading and trying to buy and sell at just the right time. That is why its always a good idea to set limits so that you dont unwittingly get burned during a transaction that was in process while prices were changing.
Penny stocks are not always as transparent as small caps are. Penny stocks do not have to abide by SEC reporting rules and so the frequency of financial statements may be erratic or nonexistent. Sometimes it seems the only thing that penny stocks are releasing is press releases to generate some stock market excitement.
The purpose of this article was not to turn you off of investing in penny stocks but simply to highlight the differences in trading and level of risk. Penny stocks will continue to present some exciting investment opportunities and attract those with a high risk tolerance. As always never invest more than you can lose and diversify your portfolio.