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A Guide to Investing In Over The Counter Stocks

01 Sep 2023

You may already be familiar with the concept of buying and selling stocks through the stock market. Also known as the secondary market, the stock market is a platform where you can trade shares of companies that are publicly listed. However, another way to invest in stocks is the Over-the-Counter (OTC) market. The OTC market allows you to invest in stocks not listed on the regular stock exchange. Learn more about OTC stocks and how to add them to your investment portfolio.

What are OTC stocks?

OTC stocks are shares of companies not traded on the regular stock exchanges due to not meeting the strict listing requirements set by these exchanges. These companies might have intriguing potential, like innovative technology or promising products and services, but they have not fulfilled the criteria for formal listing. When a company does not meet the minimum capitalization and listing standards of major stock exchanges like the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) or the National Stock Exchange (NSE), its shares can still be bought as OTC stocks, sometimes called penny stocks. 

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OTC markets allow investors like you to purchase shares of these unlisted companies. These investments offer an avenue to explore hidden opportunities beyond the traditional stock market. It is important to note that OTC stocks have their pricing methods and often come with lower prices. 

How to buy OTC stocks?

When purchasing OTC stocks, you have two main options - full-service and discount brokers.

  1. Full-service brokers: As the name suggests, these brokers provide a comprehensive range of services related to the equities markets. They offer a complete package from buying and selling stocks to trading advice and portfolio management. 
  2. Discount brokers: If you prefer a more streamlined approach, discount brokers might be your preference. These brokers enable you to trade in the markets using an online trading platform and a Demat account. While they offer limited services compared to full-service brokers, they often come with lower fees. 

Types of OTC markets

You can purchase OTC shares from three kinds of markets:

  1. The Venture Market (OTCQB): If you want to invest in still-developing companies, the Venture Market might offer suitable opportunities. This market is tailored for young companies in the growth phase.  
  2. The Best Market (OTCQX): If you seek established businesses with solid financials, the Best Market could be a potential avenue. The Best Market is home to well-established and reputable companies. 
  3. The Pink Market: Commonly known as the pink sheets, this market carries the highest risk among the OTC markets. It hosts penny stocks, shell companies, and those facing financial challenges. 

Factors to consider when investing in OTC shares

When stepping into the world of OTC shares, there are several essential factors you should keep in mind:

  1. Transparency: OTC shares often have lower transparency due to lenient reporting requirements. This can make obtaining accurate information about the companies you are considering investing in challenging.
  2. Risk profile: Recognising that the OTC market is associated with a higher risk level than well-established exchanges is crucial. The potential for volatility and unexpected shifts in stock prices is notably higher here.
  3. Potential gains: While risky, certain OTC stocks have the potential to become listed on major exchanges eventually. This could lead to significant profits if you can identify promising opportunities early.
  4. Prone to scams: Be cautious, as OTC stocks can be susceptible to scams and fraudulent activities. Thorough research and due diligence are essential to avoid falling victim to such schemes.
  5. Liquidity challenges: OTC stocks often lack liquidity due to the relatively small size of the issuing companies. This can make buying or selling shares quickly at desired prices more difficult.
  6. Regulatory differences: Since OTC stocks are not listed on stock exchanges, they are not bound by the same mandatory disclosure regulations. This means you might have less information available to make informed investment decisions.

To sum it up

OTC stocks may offer you a chance to explore a diverse range of investment opportunities beyond the traditional stock exchanges. But they also come with higher risks due to reduced transparency, volatility, and scam susceptibility. You may gain from them by staying informed, vigilant, and mindful of the unique dynamics of OTC stocks.


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