The size of a company’s market cap (big-cap vs. small-cap) is the defining factor. As a result, the meanings of their names are clear. Large-cap stocks, or big-cap equities, are investments in larger companies.
A small-cap stock, on the other hand, is a share in a company with a much lower market capitalization. Because of labels like these, many people are misled into believing that investing solely in large cap stocks is the only way to make money in the stock market.
Prior to moving on, the meaning of “cap,” an abbreviation for “capitalization,” must be established. The term “market capitalization” is used to describe the overall market worth of a company’s assets. All of a company’s issued and outstanding shares add up to its market capitalization.
Simply multiply the stock price by the number of shares outstanding to get the market capitalization. 1 Despite this common misconception, a company’s market capitalization is really calculated by adding the value of its publicly listed bonds to the stock price.
Big-cap stocks include companies such as General Electric and Walmart, which each have market caps over $10 billion. Traders and investors have come to refer to these stocks as “blue chips” due to their reliability, long-term growth prospects, and high dividend payouts. Famous companies like the ones mentioned above are examples of blue-chip stocks.
Only a small number of large-cap companies are likely to repeat their past success or provide investors with returns as reliably secure as those they’ve provided in the past. Large-cap stocks have been around for a while, so investors tend to view them as a safe choice.
In exchange for lower levels of risk, they frequently increase and maintain dividend payments to investors. Yet, there are investors who take the large-cap moniker to mean safety. Numerous cases in finance’s past offer evidence to the contrary.
Companies classified as “small caps” have a market value that is significantly lower than that of large caps, but are typically smaller and less influential overall. There are companies in every industry and at every stage of development with annual revenues between $250 million and $2 billion.
Small-cap companies have the misguided reputation of being startups or youthful companies. Many publicly traded companies with a market cap of less than $1 billion have a strong history and good finances, despite their smaller size.
Small-cap stocks, due to their size, also tend to appreciate in value. Small-cap stocks will outperform their large-cap counterparts in the long run.
Despite the fact that some factors, like the state of the economy, tend to remain constant over time, others, like the competitiveness of small firms, tend to fluctuate. 8 Stocks of larger companies tend to fare better through market downturns and poor periods. 9
In the past, “large” and “small” cap corporations were defined somewhat differently by brokerages than they are now. The only companies that need to be concerned with the small differences between the two definitions used by brokerages are those that operate on the margins of both. These definitions are helpful for borderline companies since mutual funds use them to determine which stocks to buy.
Wall Street’s most lucrative investment banking business is in the large-cap equity market. Hence, they receive a disproportionate amount of focus. Large-cap businesses, which make up the bulk of the U.S. equity market, form the backbone of many investors’ portfolios.
Large-cap stocks, on the other hand, tend to be subject to significant price swings. In 2007, at least seven of these stocks were active; by 2010, only two remained, a direct outcome of the 2008 housing crisis and the subsequent Great Recession.
Market values for businesses like Apple and Microsoft have risen above $2 trillion since then, signaling the return of mega-cap equities. About 48.14 worldwide mega-cap companies will exist by the year 2022.
Firms with a market cap of $10 billion or more typically issue large-cap stocks. These businesses may be more likely to pay regular dividends to their shareholders because of their strong financial positions. Blue-chip stocks, which make up the bulk of the large-cap market, are those of established, dominant companies.
Investors need to be aware of the risks associated with small-cap enterprises, but also of the tremendous growth opportunities these firms present. To begin with, small-cap stocks are notorious for their extreme price swings. Due to lower trading volumes and wider bid-ask spreads, these stocks may be more expensive to enter and exit.