Penny Stocks: What Are They and Should You Invest? | Finder Canada

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Canada’s penny stocks

What are penny stocks and should you invest?

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The term penny stocks is more commonly used overseas in the US, UK or Europe, but you could have also heard the phrase in Canada too. So what are they?

Penny stocks, also called micro-cap stocks, are usually cheap, low-priced shares of small, often newly listed companies. There are a few different ways to define Canada’s penny stocks. Some definitions say it’s listed companies with a market cap $50 million and $300 million. A value of less than $50 million can be referred to as a nano-cap stock. Another definition is stocks with a share price of less than $5.

Investors are often attracted to penny stocks for their cheap prices and potential growth opportunities, though there are risks involved with penny stocks, too.

What are penny stocks?

Some of the typical characteristics of a penny stock include:

    • Small company
    • Market cap at or below $50 million
    • Newer company recently listed
    • Share price below $5
    • Limited financial track record
    • Doesn’t pay dividends

Pros and cons of penny stocks

Here are some of the benefits and risks of investing in Canadian penny stocks:

Pros

  • Low prices. Because they’re low priced, investors can hold a diversified portfolio of penny stock companies without needing to spend as much as they typically would.
  • Growth opportunity. Small-cap, newly listed companies can often present great growth opportunities if you pick the right ones. However it could be a bumpy ride to the top.
  • Thrilling. Penny stocks often see their share prices change significantly in little time, which can be exciting and thrilling for investors with a high risk tolerance.
  • Day trading. Because of their large price swings, penny stocks are often used by active day traders.

Cons

  • High risk. Penny stocks are very high-risk investments compared to other listed companies and ETFs with a longer financial track record. Not all companies that list on an exchange do well and a lot of penny stocks never become anything more than a penny stock.
  • Very volatile. Penny stocks often experience extreme share price highs and lows within a matter of days (or even within the same day).
  • No income. Penny stocks rarely pay any dividends, as all revenue is usually reinvested back into the company to help it grow.

Penny stocks versus blue chip stocks

On the opposite side of the scale to penny stocks are blue chip stocks. In comparison to penny stocks, blue chip stocks are large listed companies that have been around for a long time and have a long, stable financial track record. Some of Canada’s biggest and most well-known companies are considered blue chip stocks, such as the Big 5 banks, mining companies, retail giants and energy and utilities companies.

While penny stocks in most cases pay no dividends, blue chips stocks almost always do.

Should you invest in penny stocks?

You could consider investing in penny stocks if:

  • You have a high risk tolerance
  • You’re an experienced investor
  • You’re willing to cut your losses if the share price falls significantly
  • You have a long investment time frame and are willing to ride out the volatility
  • You’re happy to take a bit of a “gamble”

Tips for investors considering buying penny stocks

If you want to invest in Canadian penny stocks, here are some tips to help you get started:

Do your research

This is important for all investments, but particularly higher-risk investments like penny stocks. Blue chip stocks are, by their nature, lower-risk options as they’ve got a long history of strong financial performance.

Plan a strategy and stick to it

Before you start buying, decide which penny stocks you’re going to invest in and how much you’re going to invest in each one. It’s also important to decide what price you’d sell at if the shares were to fall and stick to it to avoid the “I’ll just hold a little longer and see if the price jumps back up” mentality. The same applies for gains.

Don’t make emotional decisions

It can be easy to get emotionally attached to a penny stock, as they’re often the underdogs in your portfolio. So when their share price falls and falls some more, you can find yourself making excuses as to why you should keep holding. This is why it’s important to make a strategy, so you leave the emotions out of it.

Don’t get sucked in by the “cheap” prices

Penny stocks may appear to be cheap in comparison to other shares listed on the TSX, but don’t base your investment decision purely on this. One factor that influences a company’s share price is the demand for its shares. The less demand from investors, the lower the share price. So some penny stocks may appear to be cheap, but you need to ask yourself why this is.

How to buy penny stocks in Canada

  1. Choose a share trading platform. If you’re a beginner, our table below can help you choose.
  2. Open your account. You’ll need your ID and bank details.
  3. Confirm your payment details. You’ll need to fund your account with a bank transfer, debit card or credit card.
  4. Find the shares you want to buy. Search the platform and buy your shares. It’s that simple.

Compare share trading platforms to buy penny stocks

Name Product Available asset types Stock Fee Option Fee Account Fee ETF Transaction Cost Feature Table description
Wealthsimple Trade
Stocks, ETFs
$0
N/A
$0
Free
Zero commissions on Canadian stocks.
Get a $25 bonus when you open a Wealthsimple Trade account and deposit and trade at least $100.
Interactive Brokers
Stocks, Bonds, Options, ETFs, Currencies, Futures
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
$1.50 min. per order
$0 (if monthly commissions are greater than or equal to US$10.00)
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
Extensive trading capabilities and global investment tracking.
Access market data 24 hours a day, six days a week and invest in global stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds and funds from one single account.
Qtrade Investor
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
$6.95 - $8.75
$6.95 - $8.75 + $1.25 per contract
$0 if conditions met, else $25/quarter
$0 - $8.75
Trade 100 ETFs free of charge.
Qtrade Investor offers low trading commissions and an easy-to-use platform with access to powerful tools and a wide selection of investment options. Trade 100 ETFs free of charge and thousands more for $8.75 or lower.
Questrade
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, Precious Metals
$4.95-$9.95
$9.95 + $1 per contract
$0
Free
$0 account fee and free ETF transactions.
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio and take some of the guesswork out.
Scotia iTRADE
Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities
$4.99-$9.99
$9.99 + $1.25 contract ($4.99 + $1.25 contract if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
$0
$9.99 ($4.99 if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
Pay no annual account fees.
Buy, sell and trade ETFs, Equities, Options and more with competitive commissions.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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