There are two main ways in which a person gains from an investment. The first is by capital gains, the difference between the purchase price and the sale price of an investment. The second is investment income, the money paid to the holder of the investment by the issuer of the investment. Depending on the type of investment, the source or mix of the total gain will differ. And in some cases, these different sources are taxed at different rates, so it is important to be aware of each.

All stocks can generate a capital gain as the price of a stock is constantly changing in the market. This allows you to potentially sell for a higher price than what you bought the stock for originally. Some stocks also generate income gain through the payment of dividends paid out by a company from its earnings. For example, say that you bought a stock for $10 and the company pays off an annual dividend of $.50, and after two years of holding the stock you sell it for $15. Your capital gain is 50% ($5/$10) and your income gain is 10% ($1/$10) for a total gain of 60% ($6/$10).

Bonds are typically known for their payment of coupons, which is an income source of gain. However, a person also can generate a capital gain from a bond by selling the bond before maturity into the secondary market. For example, if you bought a bond for $1,000 and sold it for $1,100, you would realize a capital gain along with any income gain from coupons paid out to you. There is an inverse relationship between bonds and interest rates, the price of a bond will change in the opposite direction of the prevailing interest rates in the market. If interest rates fall your bond will become come more attractive in the market and be bid upwards.

For more information on gains, see our Investing 101 tutorial.

  1. How do deferred tax assets help in meeting retirement goals?

    Investors who are saving for retirement need to consider a number of important factors, such as investment allocation, risk ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do hedge funds invest in bonds?

    Hedge funds have the freedom to deploy their capital in virtually any manner. They can use leverage, invest in non-publicly ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do mutual funds pay dividends or interest?

    Depending on the type of investments included in the portfolio, mutual funds may pay dividends, interest, or both. Types ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Can mutual funds only hold bonds?

    While some mutual funds include bonds in addition to other asset types, certain funds, aptly named bond funds, hold only ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the risks of annuities in a recession?

    Annuities come in several forms, the two most common being fixed annuities and variable annuities. During a recession, variable ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Are high yield bonds a good investment?

    Bonds are rated according to their risk of default by independent credit rating agencies such as Moody's, Standard & ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Common Interview Questions for Fixed Income Traders

    Discover a list of potential questions and answers commonly asked in job interviews for a candidate applying for a position as a fixed-income trader.
  2. Investing

    In Search of the Rate-Proof Portfolio

    After October’s better-than-expected employment report, a December Federal Reserve (Fed) liftoff is looking more likely than it was earlier this fall.
  3. Investing

    The Pros and Cons of High-Yield Bonds

    Junk bonds are more volatile than investment-grade bonds but may provide significant advantages when analyzed in-depth.
  4. Financial Advisors

    Ditching High-Yield Bonds for Plain Vanilla Ones

    In a low-rate environment, it's tempting to go for higher yield bonds. However, you might be better off sticking with the plain vanilla ones.
  5. Bonds & Fixed Income

    What is an Indenture?

    An indenture is a legal and binding contract between a bond issuer and the bondholders.
  6. Investing

    What’s the Difference Between Duration & Maturity?

    We look at the meaning of two terms that often get confused, duration and maturity, to set the record straight.
  7. Bonds & Fixed Income

    Junk Bonds: Everything You Need To Know

    Don't be fooled by the name - junk bonds may be for you if you know how to analyze them.
  8. Investing

    Understanding High Yield Fund Performance

    For exchange traded fund, not all high-yield ETFs are the same. So, we take a look at one high yield investment in particular to set the stage for you.
  9. Savings

    Being too Safe with Your Money Could Turn Risky

    Find out why playing it safe with your retirement savings can actually turn risky, including the basics of inflation risk and interest rate risk.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The 3 Best and Most Popular Vanguard Index Funds

    Learn about three popular Vanguard Index Funds. See how index funds provide an easy way for investors to gain exposure to the market with low costs.
  1. Par

    Short for "par value," par can refer to bonds, preferred stock, ...
  2. Yield To Maturity (YTM)

    The total return anticipated on a bond if the bond is held until ...
  3. Discount Bond

    A bond that is issued for less than its par (or face) value, ...
  4. Credit Rating

    An assessment of the credit worthiness of a borrower in general ...
  5. Long-Term Debt

    Long-term debt consists of loans and financial obligations lasting ...
  6. Accelerated Return Note (ARN)

    A short- to medium-term debt instrument that offers a potentially ...

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Cyber Monday

    An expression used in online retailing to describe the Monday following U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. Cyber Monday is generally ...
  2. Bar Chart

    A style of chart used by some technical analysts, on which, as illustrated below, the top of the vertical line indicates ...
  3. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  4. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  5. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  6. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
Trading Center