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What is equity trading? Equity types, calculation and examples
What is equity trading? Equity types, calculation and examples

What Is Equity: A Complete Guide

Equity, also referred to as shareholder equity, is one of the most common terms in the financial markets that almost every investor or trader has come across at least once. But what does it mean? In simple words, equity trading is the process of buying and selling company shares on stock exchanges or over the counter (OTC), usually through a broker.

In this guide, we'll break down what equity is, provide you with a formula for calculating it yourself, describe various forms of equity and explain everything with examples. We will also dive deeper into equity trading, covering the most common trading instruments and outlining their peculiarities. So let's get started!

What Is Equity in Trading?

Equity is a financial asset that represents ownership in a company. When investors buy company shares, they become stockholders and take total ownership over them. It also means that equity investors can have voting rights and gain extra return on their investments through dividends or capital growth.

  1. Dividends are periodic payments that are made to shareholders out of the profits of the company. For example, if a business generates $100 in profits per share, and the board of directors decides to declare a dividend of $0.50 per share, each shareholder would receive $0.50 for each share that they own. Dividend payments also depend on the size and economic state of a company. Generally speaking, large and well-established entities pay out higher dividends than small businesses with a more limited budget.
  2. Capital growth is the increase in the value of the share over time. For example, if you purchase a stock for $10 per share, and its price increases to $12 per share, you have made a capital gain of $2 per share. Capital gains can be realised when the asset is sold or through the payment of a stock dividend.

However, it's important to note that the stock market sentiment can be not only positive, making prices go up, but also negative, resulting in the stock value dropping. Thus, just as with trading any financial instruments, such adverse price movements can lead to losing money.

How Does Shareholder Equity Work?

Shareholder equity, also known as stockholders' equity or stockholders' funds, is the portion of a company's stock that is owned by shareholders. It represents the residual value of a company's assets after liabilities are paid. Knowing how shareholder equity works can help you make informed investment decisions. So, let's have a closer look.

There are two possible ways a company can gain capital. It can issue debt through various liabilities or issue stock, thus creating shareholder equity. For example, if a company has $100 million in assets and $50 million in liabilities, it has $50 million in equity. Shareholder equity can be used to finance operations, buy assets or expand the business in general.

It's worth mentioning that equity can influence the price of the stock. For example, if a company announces plans to issue new shares, the stock price may decrease because the value of each share will be diluted. Conversely, if a company buys back its shares, the stock price may increase because there are fewer shares outstanding.

Shareholder equity combined with fundamental analysis can also be a helpful tool for understanding a company's financial health.

  • Positive equity indicates that a company's assets are worth more than its liabilities. Such entities are considered to be financially sound and stable, implying less risk.
  • Negative equity means that a company's liabilities exceed its assets. Such a business would be seen by traders as a significantly riskier investment.

How to Calculate Shareholders' Equity: Formula to Use

Shareholders' equity can be calculated by subtracting the portion of the assets that are owned by creditors from the total value of the assets. The ratio formula will look as follows:

Shareholders' Equity = Total Assets - Total Liabilities

What Are the Most Common Components of Equity

Shareholders' equity can be divided into subcategories. Some of them include common stock, retained earnings and treasury stock. 

  • Common stock represents the portion of the equity that is held by common shareholders.
  • Retained earnings represent the portion of the equity that is held by the company itself instead of being paid out to shareholders as dividends. They can be used to finance expansion and improvement projects that can make a company more valuable and increase the price of its stock. In addition, retained earnings can provide a buffer against tough economic times, allowing a business to weather downturns without having to cut dividend payments.
  • Treasury stock is shares of a company's stock that are bought back by the entity and held in its treasury. They are not outstanding shares, which means they cannot be traded or sold. The main reason companies buy back their stock is to increase the value of the remaining shares by reducing the number of shares available on the market. This often happens when a company believes its stock is undervalued and wants to invest in itself. Another reason for treasury stock repurchases is to have more control over voting rights within the company. By reducing the number of shares available, the existing shareholders have more power per vote.

Example of Shareholder Equity

To find out the number of total assets and total liabilities of a company, it's necessary to open its balance sheet. Let's take the example of, Inc. According to the company's 2021 balance sheet, its financials are as follows:

Total assets: $420.549 billion

Total liabilities: $282.304 billion

Thus, the shareholder equity will be:

Shareholder equity = $420.549 - $282.304 = $138.245 billion

Common Types of Equity Investment Trading Instruments

What is equity trading? Equity types and trading instruments

Equity trading comes with different options of financial instruments traders may use. Some common of them include stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Each of these has its own set of benefits and risks, so it's important to understand the differences before making any decisions.

  1. Stocks represent ownership in a specific company. When you buy shares of stock, you become a partial owner of that business. As such, you are entitled to a portion of the company's profits (if any) and have the ability to vote on corporate matters. However, investing stocks implies high volatility, meaning that the asset value can go up or down rapidly. This makes them a risky investment, but one that can offer high rewards if timed correctly.
  2. Mutual funds are another type of equity trading. Rather than owning shares in a single company, mutual fund investors own shares in a pool of companies. This diversification can help to mitigate some of the risk associated with stocks, but it also typically leads to lower returns.
  3. ETFs are similar to mutual funds since they offer diversification and can help limit risks. However, just like stocks, this financial instrument provides equity traders with more flexibility in buying and selling.

Equities vs Stocks: What Is the Difference in Simple Words?

Equity simply refers to the value of ownership in a company. This can take the form of common, preferred or any type of security representing direct ownership. In contrast, stocks refer to the actual securities themselves. In other words, they are a type of equity. So when people talk about buying stocks, they are referring to buying equity in a company. However, the terms are often used interchangeably because they both represent ownership in a company.

Explanation of Options vs Equity Trading

Options and equity trading are two very different concepts. When trading equity, an investor buys and sells shares of a company on the stock market. When trading options, an investor is buying and selling the right to buy or sell a security at a specific price within a specific timeframe. 

In contrast to equity trading, trading options come with lower risk limits. This is because you are not buying or selling the security itself but only the right to do so. Options are also considered more complex instruments than equities. There are a variety of different options and strategies that can be used to gain potential returns, and it can take considerable time to learn them. Equity trading, on the other hand, is relatively simpler. You buy shares of a company when you think they will go up in value and sell them when they do.

What Are Social Trading Equities?

Social trading is a method of investing in which traders share information and strategies with each other in order to make better investment decisions. This type of trading has become increasingly popular in recent years as it allows investors to benefit from the group's collective wisdom. In addition, social trading can help to reduce the high risk of losing money by allowing traders to learn from each other's mistakes.

Trading Equities vs Forex: What Is the Difference?

Both forex and equity trading involve buying and selling assets to make a profit, but there are some key differences between the two.

Forex trading is conducted on the foreign exchange market, where currency pairs are traded. Equity trading, on the other hand, takes place on stock exchanges and involves the buying and selling of stocks. Some common equity markets include the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the London Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. 

Another key difference is that forex pairs can be traded on a 24-hour basis, while equity trading takes place during regular business hours. Last but not least, the forex market is often considered to be more volatile than the equity market, which means that there is more potential for profits but also more risk.

Сash Equity Trading

Cash equity trading is another popular technique used on the stock market. It involves buying and selling larger shares of stock to make more significant returns from the changes in the stock prices. This strategy is mostly implemented by institutional investors rather than retail investors since it implies more capital outlay and higher risks.

Trading Leveraged Equity

Leveraged trading implies that an equity trader uses borrowed money to buy or sell securities. The purpose of using leverage is to increase the potential return of an investment. However, it's crucial to remember that it also increases the potential risk of loss. 

Leveraged equity can be either long or short. A long trade implies that an investor buys securities expecting that their price will go up. A short leveraged equity trade is when an investor sells assets that he doesn't own in the hope that their price will go down so he can buy the securities back at a lower price and make a profit. To execute a leveraged trade, an equity trader must have a margin account with a brokerage firm.

One of the possible instruments allowing for leverage when trading equities is CFDs. They allow investors to trade equity without entering into direct ownership over it. Moreover, when trading CFDs, you open a leveraged position, meaning that you don't need to outlay the total position value; your broker will provide you with some capital to enter the trade.

It's crucial to remember that leverage is a double-edged sword. It can significantly magnify your profits and lead to drastic losses in your trading account. For example, if you open a position with 5:1 leverage and the asset increases in value by 10%, your account will increase in value by 50%. However, if the asset decreases in value by 10%, your account will decrease in value by 50%. 

It's important to understand that CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Therefore, once you decide to start CFD trading, make sure you have sufficient knowledge and skills in this sphere.

Other Forms of Equity

What is equity trading? Forms of equity trading

Private Equity

Private equity is a type of investment that involves the purchase of shares in a privately held company. Private equity traders typically hold these shares for some time and then sell them, often through an initial public offering (IPO). This form of equity can be a riskier investment, but it can also offer higher potential returns.

Home Equity

Home equity is the portion of a property's value that is owned by the homeowner. For example, if a home is worth $300,000 and the homeowner still owes $200,000 on the mortgage, they have $100,000 in home equity. Homeowners can sell their equity or use it as collateral for a loan which can be a useful way to finance home improvements or consolidate debt. However, it also comes with some risks. If the value of the property decreases, the borrower could end up owing more than the value of their home.

Brand Equity

Brand equity stands for the value of a company gained from its name recognition. Strong brand equity can give a company a competitive advantage, while weak brand equity can lead to decreased sales and market share. This type of equity can be measured through consumer surveys, focus groups, and other research methods.

Equity vs Return on Equity

When it comes to business, there are two ways to look at profitability: return on equity (ROE) and equity. ROE measures how much profit a company generates with the money shareholders have invested. Equity, on the other hand, is a company's net worth or the difference between its assets and liabilities.

How Can Investors Use Equity?

For most investors in the financial market, the equity market is a crucial concept. For example, an investor can evaluate a company and decide if a specific purchase price is too high or not. This can be done by using the shareholders' equity as a criterion to determine the fluctuation of an asset's value.

Moreover, if a company has historically traded at a specific price-to-book value of 1.5, an investor may be hesitant to pay a larger amount than that. However, if investors believe that the company's prospects have significantly improved, that may also change their perspective on it. Conversely, an investor may feel comfortable purchasing shares in a relatively weak business if the price is sufficiently low relative to its equity.

What Factors Affect the Cost of Equities?

According to the results of economic indicators, various factors may affect the cost of equities. Such factors can either be internal or external and can play a significant role in the shares' price. Most businesses compose yearly financial tables where they provide data about the results of their yearly activities. If there is a positive outcome and it is expected that the company will continue developing, this will have an equal impact on the shares' price. 

Moreover, the future performance of the general economy is also a very important factor that can affect a stock's price. As with similar assets, the cost of equities will grow if there are favourable economic conditions. Conversely, if the financial situation deteriorates, the demand for equities will drop. This can be another factor, along with the market sentiment, that can affect the stock prices.

A very popular way that is used to measure the general performance of equities is considered to be the stock market index. Depending on the country, region, and industry, the indices may vary. For example, the FTSE 100 is an indicator used in Great Britain and monitors the performance of the 100 largest and most well-established companies in the UK, depending on their market capitalisation.

What Are the Risks of Equities?

As with all financial tools, buying or selling equities comes with risks, and some of them may lead to a partial or total loss of capital. For instance, it is considered less risky if a trader chooses to deal with equities that are connected with economically strong countries rather than those that come from developing ones. This is why strong and stable economies are considered less volatile and with higher market liquidity.

In some circumstances, wealthy investors may provide small businesses with venture capital. This can either help the company push its stock price higher, leading to profitable returns, or it may cause considerable risks and lead the business to perform poorly.

Some risks may be mitigated to a specific level, while others may be unavoidable. For instance, trading CFDs on equities or even spread betting can lead traders to maximise their losses. Despite that fact, understanding the meaning of trading on equity can help you wisely diversify your trading portfolio. Thus, any decisions should be made after in-depth research of a company's fundamentals.

Last but not least, choosing to invest in shares that belong to companies from different sectors or even geographical regions is a great way to diversify your portfolio. If, for instance, equities in a region or sector start to perform poorly, the shares that come from other sectors may stay unaffected. Such an example can be a global crash that can influence the general state of the economy.


Equity trading is a popular way to invest in the stock market because it offers the potential for high returns. However, it is considered a rather risky type of investment. If a company's stock price decreases, you could lose money rapidly from your investor account.

Therefore, if you decide to become an equity trader, make sure you have a clear understanding of how this instrument works, develop a robust trading strategy, find a secure and feature-rich trading platform, and continuously educate yourself on market trends and various technical and fundamental analysis tools.


What is equity in simple words?

Equity is a stake or financial interest in a company. When you purchase equity, you become part owner of the company. Equity traders receive dividends, which are a portion of the company's profits. Some common types of equity include stocks, options, and warrants.

What is an example of equity?

Equity is the value of ownership in a company. For example, if an individual owns 5% of the outstanding shares of a particular company, they would have 5% equity in that business. If the total value of the company increases, so does the value of that individual's equity stake.

What are the 3 forms of equity?

There are three primary forms of equity: common stock, preferred stock and bonds. Common stock is the basic form of equity and represents ownership in a company. Preferred stock is a type of equity that gives shareholders certain privileges. Bonds are debt security instruments that represent a loan made by investors to a company.

What is the role of an equity trader?

Equity traders buy and sell securities on the stock exchange. They use a variety of analytical tools to assess the performance of individual stocks and the overall market. To make more consistent decisions, equity traders also monitor news and economic indicators for signs of changes in market conditions. 

What does equity mean for day trading?

Day trading is a strategy that involves buying and selling stocks within the same day. Trading equities on an intraday basis implies buying and selling company shares in order to profit from small price fluctuations. Note that day trading is not for everyone since you need to be able to make quick decisions and have the ability to take risks. However, if you have the skills and temperament required, it can be a potentially profitable activity.

How do I start trading in equity?

Find reputable and reliable senior traders who can act as a mentor. Select a robust and secure trading platform that suits your needs. Before you start trading equity, it is essential to develop a solid understanding of the risks involved. Make sure you know how to manage your risk tolerance and always have an exit strategy in mind before entering more aggressive trades.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute investment advice or any other form of advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by Libertex. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

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