penny stocks
Back to blog categories

What Are Penny Stocks and How to Invest in Them

Penny stocks are shares of small public companies that are priced very low, typically below $5 each. They are often traded on platforms outside of major stock exchanges, known as over-the-counter (OTC) markets. Trading penny stocks has its pros and cons. While some of them turn into big companies, many of them actually go bankrupt. Let's have a closer look at what are penny stocks and how to invest in them.

What are Penny Stocks?

Penny stocks are shares of small public companies that typically trade at a low price, usually below $5 per share. They are often considered high-risk investments due to their volatility, lack of liquidity, and susceptibility to market manipulation.

It's important to note that while some penny stocks may experience significant price increases, many fail to gain traction or become victims of fraudulent schemes. Therefore, investors should exercise extreme caution and conduct thorough research before investing in any penny stock.

How Do They Work?

Penny stocks work similarly to regular stocks in some ways, but with some key differences. Most penny stocks are traded on over-the-counter (OTC) markets, like the OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB) or Pink Sheets. These markets have less stringent listing requirements and regulatory oversight compared to major exchanges like the NYSE or NASDAQ. Additionally, penny stocks often have low trading volumes, making it harder to buy or sell shares quickly without significantly affecting the price. This can lead to wider bid-ask spreads and more difficulty exiting a position.

Pros and Cons

Penny stocks offer both potential advantages and significant disadvantages to investors. It's essential to weigh these carefully before considering this type of investment.


  • Potential for High Returns: The most attractive aspect of penny stocks is the possibility of significant gains. Due to their low price, even a small increase in value can translate to a large percentage return.
  • Accessibility: Penny stocks are accessible to investors with limited capital. Their low share price allows for purchasing a large number of shares with a relatively small investment.
  • Early Investment Opportunity: Investing in penny stocks can sometimes provide an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a company with significant growth potential. If the company succeeds, early investors can reap substantial rewards.


  • High Risk: Penny stocks are inherently risky investments. Their prices are highly volatile and susceptible to manipulation, making them prone to sudden and substantial losses.
  • Limited Information: Information about penny stock companies can be limited and difficult to obtain. This lack of transparency makes it challenging to conduct thorough research and due diligence.
  • Low Liquidity: Penny stocks often have low trading volumes, making it difficult to buy or sell shares quickly without impacting the price. This can lead to wider bid-ask spreads and difficulty exiting a position.
  • Susceptibility to Fraud: Penny stocks are frequently targeted by fraudulent schemes like pump-and-dump manipulations, where promoters artificially inflate prices to sell their shares at a profit.
  • Lack of Regulation: Compared to stocks listed on major exchanges, penny stocks are subject to less regulatory oversight, increasing the risk of fraud and manipulation.

How Do I Invest in Penny Stocks?

Investing in penny stocks involves a similar process to investing in regular stocks, but with some crucial considerations due to the higher risk involved:

  1. Choose a Brokerage Account:
  2. Look for a brokerage that allows trading on OTC markets (OTCBB, Pink Sheets) where most penny stocks are listed.
  3. Compare fees, trading platforms, research tools, and educational resources offered by different brokers.
  4. Fund Your Account:
  5. Deposit funds into your brokerage account to begin trading.
  6. Start with a small amount of money you can afford to lose, as penny stocks are highly risky.
  7. Conduct Thorough Research:
  8. Company Analysis: Scrutinize the company's financial statements, business model, management team, competitive landscape, and future prospects. Look for red flags like consistent losses, high debt, or a lack of clear direction.
  9. Market Analysis: Research the industry and market trends that may affect the company's performance.
  10. Beware of Hype: Be skeptical of promotional materials or "hot tips." Focus on reliable sources and independent research.
  11. Select Penny Stocks Carefully:
  12. Focus on companies with sound financials, a clear business plan, and a history of compliance with regulations.
  13. Avoid companies with a history of frequent reverse stock splits or excessive dilution of shares.
  14. Diversify your holdings by investing in a few different penny stocks to spread the risk.
  15. Place Your Orders:
  16. Use limit orders to specify the maximum price you're willing to pay for a stock.
  17. Consider using stop-loss orders to automatically sell shares if the price falls below a certain level, limiting your potential losses.
  18. Monitor Your Investments:
  19. Keep track of the news and developments related to your penny stock holdings.
  20. Regularly review the company's financial performance and adjust your strategy as needed.
  21. Be prepared for volatility and don't panic sell if the price fluctuates.

Are They A Good Investment for Beginners?

In general, penny stocks are not considered a good investment for beginners. Here's why:

  1. High Risk: Penny stocks are inherently risky due to their volatility, lack of liquidity, and susceptibility to manipulation. Beginners may not have the experience or risk tolerance to navigate these challenges.
  2. Limited Information and Research: Reliable information on penny stock companies can be scarce, making it difficult for beginners to conduct thorough research and due diligence. This lack of transparency increases the risk of making uninformed decisions.
  3. Potential for Fraud: Penny stocks are often targeted by fraudulent schemes like pump-and-dump manipulations. Beginners may be more susceptible to falling victim to such scams due to lack of experience and knowledge.
  4. Focus on Fundamentals: Beginners should focus on learning the fundamentals of investing and building a diversified portfolio with established companies. Penny stocks require a different approach and skill set that may be better developed after gaining experience.
  5. Alternative Options: There are plenty of other investment options available for beginners, such as index funds, ETFs, or blue-chip stocks. These offer lower risk and more stability, making them a better starting point for building a solid investment foundation.

Where Do I Buy Penny Stocks From?

Penny stocks are not traded on major stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or NASDAQ. Instead, you can buy them through the following channels:

  1. Online Brokerage Accounts: Many online brokers offer access to OTC markets where penny stocks are traded. Some popular choices include:
  2. Fidelity: Known for zero-fee trades, ease of use, and extensive research tools.
  3. Charles Schwab: Offers penny stock trading through its standard stock trading accounts.
  4. ChoiceTrade: Specializes in OTCBB and Pink Sheet trading, offering different fee structures.
  5. Interactive Brokers: Caters to active traders and provides access to a wide range of markets, including penny stocks.
  6. Robinhood: Popular among new investors, but exercise caution due to limited research tools and potential risks.
  7. Over-The-Counter (OTC) Markets: You can directly access OTC markets like the OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB) and Pink Sheets through your brokerage account. These markets have looser listing requirements and less regulatory oversight compared to major exchanges.

How to Protect Myself from Penny Stock Scams?

Protecting yourself from penny stock scams requires vigilance, thorough research, and a healthy dose of skepticism.

Be extremely cautious if you receive unsolicited emails, phone calls, or online messages promoting penny stocks. Scammers often use high-pressure tactics and promises of guaranteed returns to lure unsuspecting investors. Never give out personal or financial information to unsolicited contacts.

Thoroughly investigate any penny stock company before investing. Look for reliable information from reputable sources, such as the company's website, SEC filings, and independent financial news outlets. Be wary of online forums or social media groups promoting penny stocks, as they can be easily manipulated by scammers. Look for red flags like a lack of transparent financial information, a history of regulatory violations, or exaggerated claims about the company's potential.

Before investing, verify that the broker or firm offering penny stocks is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). You can use FINRA's BrokerCheck tool to check their background and disciplinary history. Be wary of unregistered brokers or firms, as they may not be subject to the same regulatory oversight and investor protections.

Beware of "pump and dump" schemes, which involve artificially inflating a penny stock's price through false or misleading information, then selling shares at a profit before the price crashes. Be cautious of stocks with sudden and unexplained price surges, especially if accompanied by aggressive promotional campaigns.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Spread your investments across different asset classes to mitigate risk and limit your exposure to penny stocks to a small percentage of your overall portfolio. Use limit orders to specify the maximum price you're willing to pay for a stock, protecting you from unexpected price increases. Stop-loss orders automatically sell your shares if the price falls below a certain level, limiting your potential losses.

What Is the Difference Between Penny Stocks and Regular Stocks?

Penny stocks and regular stocks represent two distinct types of stocks with significant differences. Penny stocks, often priced below $5 per share, are typically issued by smaller companies and traded on over-the-counter (OTC) markets. They are characterized by high volatility, limited regulation, and often restricted information availability, making them high-risk investments.

On the other hand, regular stocks, which encompass a wide range of prices, are issued by companies of various sizes and are listed on major exchanges like the NYSE or NASDAQ. These types of stocks tend to be more stable, subject to stricter regulations, and offer greater transparency, making them generally less risky but often requiring a higher initial investment.

Understanding these differences is crucial for investors to make informed decisions based on their risk tolerance and investment goals.

Are Penny Stocks Worth It?

Whether penny stocks are "worth it" depends entirely on your individual risk tolerance, investment goals, and experience level.

The allure of penny stocks lies in their potential for high returns. Some of the most successful penny stocks have experienced exponential growth, turning small investments into significant profits. Companies like Monster Beverage and Medifast were once penny stocks before becoming major players in their respective industries.

However, these success stories are the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of penny stocks fail to achieve such heights, and many end up losing significant value or even going bankrupt.

Back to blog categories