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Stocks v/s Bonds – A quick guide

When you start scouting for investment options in the financial markets, the most common instruments you will come across are stocks and bonds. Both of these are means to raise funds by organizations. They both have multiple attractive features. But, in terms of their fundamentals, they are as distinct as chalk and cheese. This article will give you an overview of these investment products and spell out their differences to help you with your investment decisions.

What are Stocks?

Stocks are equity-based instruments. When you invest in a company's stock, you become a part-owner of that company in proportion to your shareholding in that company. In other words, you purchase a stake in that company through your stock investment. If the company makes a profit, you may enjoy capital appreciation via the increase in the stock price or dividend income. Whereas, if the company suffers losses, your invested capital may also reduce. It makes the income from stocks uncertain to an extent. Hence, stocks are relatively risky. But, investments in stocks have the potential to give you somewhat higher returns if you invest in well-performing stocks and invest for the long term. You can purchase stocks through an IPO (Initial Public Offering) or from a stock exchange. You need to open a trading account and demat account to invest in stocks.

What are Bonds?

Bonds are debt instruments. When you invest in a bond of an organization, you are lending money to that organization for a stipulated period. In return, the organization will pay you interest for using your funds. It is your income from the bond investment. The interest rate at which you invest in the bond is also known as the coupon rate. Since the coupon rate and maturity period are pre-decided at the investment time, you are assured of receiving a certain income. It makes bonds relatively safe. You can trade most of the bonds like shares in the stock markets too. You will receive your principal investment amount at the time of maturity in addition to the regular pay-outs of interest income. Bonds receive a credit rating from authorized agencies depending on their debt repayment capacity. You must be sure to pick highly-rated bonds as these bonds have less chance of a default. If the issuing company defaults, you may lose out on your interest income and suffer losses on your principal amount.

Stocks v/s Bonds

The table below will give you a snapshot of the characteristics and the differences between stock and bonds.

Particulars

Stocks

Bonds

Returns

There is a scope of gaining relatively higher returns. Returns are received in the form of Dividends and Capital Appreciation.

Bonds offer a fixed interest rate if held till maturity

Risk Quotient

The income from stock investments depends on the company’s performance. Since there is no certainty about how the company will fare going forward, the associated risks are relatively high.

Bonds come with a fixed-income package that makes them a relatively secure investment. Moreover, bonds receive a credit rating from authorized agencies based on their repayment capability, which helps understand the instrument's default risk.

Trading Mechanism

You can buy and sell stocks through IPOs and stock exchanges

Bonds can also be traded on the stock exchanges, but liquidity may be a concern

Investor Status

As a shareholder, you are a part-owner of the company

As a Bondholder, you are a lender to the company

Issuing Entity

Companies

Governments, Companies, etc.

Investment Perks

You have voting rights in the company

You are prioritized as a bond investor when it comes to repayment of debt

Liquidity

Stock is a relatively liquid asset as there is no binding lock-in period that you have to confirm to

Relatively less liquid

Additional Read: What is Demat Account, its Meaning, Type, and Process

Investing in Stocks and Bonds

There is a single point of contact for investing in stocks and bonds – a demat and trading Account. Having a demat Account is a prerequisite for most of the capital market investment. If you do not have a Demat Account, do not worry. You can open one in minutes online. All you need is a well-known, full-service registered broker who will not only open a trading and demat account for you but also help you with several value-based, add-on services like investment advisory, research, etc. You can quickly open a demat and trading account online with ICICI Direct.

Additional Read: Which Demat Account is best

Conclusion

Stocks and bonds both weigh differently to different investors. A good idea is to include both these instruments in your portfolio to diversify it for optimum and secure returns. You can decide the proportion of each of these instruments in your portfolio depending on your risk appetite, investment goals, and investment time horizon.

Disclaimer – ICICI Securities Ltd. (I-Sec). Registered office of I-Sec is at ICICI Securities Ltd. - ICICI Venture House, Appasaheb Marathe Marg, Prabhadevi, Mumbai - 400 025, India, Tel No : 022 - 6807 7100. I-Sec is a Member of National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (Member Code :07730), BSE Ltd (Member Code :103) and Member of Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd. (Member Code: 56250) and having SEBI registration no. INZ000183631. Name of the Compliance officer (broking): Mr. Anoop Goyal, Contact number: 022-40701000, E-mail address: complianceofficer@icicisecurities.com. Investment in securities market are subject to market risks, read all the related documents carefully before investing. I-Sec is acting as a distributor to solicit bond related products. All disputes with respect to the distribution activity, would not have access to Exchange investor redressal forum or Arbitration mechanism. The contents herein above shall not be considered as an invitation or persuasion to trade or invest.  I-Sec and affiliates accept no liabilities for any loss or damage of any kind arising out of any actions taken in reliance thereon. The contents herein above are solely for informational purpose and may not be used or considered as an offer document or solicitation of offer to buy or sell or subscribe for securities or other financial instruments or any other product. Investors should consult their financial advisers whether the product is suitable for them before taking any decision. The contents herein mentioned are solely for informational and educational purpose.

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