What is the difference between investing and speculating?

By Joseph Nguyen AAA
A:

The main difference between speculating and investing is the amount of of risk undertaken in the trade. Typically, high-risk trades that are almost akin to gambling fall under the umbrella of speculation, whereas lower-risk investments based on fundamentals and analysis fall into the category of investing. Investors seek to generate a satisfactory return on their capital by taking on an average or below-average amount of risk. On the other hand, speculators are seeking to make abnormally high returns from bets that can go one way or the other. It should be noted that speculation is not exactly like gambling because speculators do try to make an educated decision on the direction of the trade, but the risk inherent in the trade tends to be significantly above average.

As an example of a speculative trade, consider a volatile junior gold mining company that has an equal chance over the near term of skyrocketing from a new gold mine discovery or going bankrupt. With no news from the company, investors would tend to shy away from such a risky trade, but some speculators may believe that the junior gold mining company is going to strike gold and may buy its stock on a hunch. This would be speculation.

As an example of investing, consider a large stable multinational company. The company may pay a consistent dividend that increases annually, and its business risk is low. An investor may choose to invest in this company over the long-term to make a satisfactory return on his or her capital while taking on relatively low risk. Additionally, the investor may add several similar companies across different industries to his or her portfolio to diversify and further lower their risk.

For more on diversification, take a look at Diversification: Protecting Portfolios From Mass Destruction.

This question was answered by Joseph Nguyen.

RELATED FAQS

  1. What does a mutual fund's beta coefficient measure?

    Evaluate the risk associated with a particular mutual fund by determining its beta coefficient, which illustrates the fund's ...
  2. How do I judge a mutual fund's performance?

    Evaluate mutual fund performance utilizing resources such as Morningstar; compare the fund with others in its peer group ...
  3. What's the difference between alpha and beta?

    Learn about alpha and beta, two very important technical risk ratios that investors use to evaluate relative performance, ...
  4. How can I protect my portfolio from market corrections?

    Learn about some of the types of investment strategies designed to protect an investment portfolio from losing value during ...
RELATED TERMS
  1. Losses and Loss-Adjustment Expense

    The portion of an insurance company’s reserves set aside for ...
  2. Nonstandard Auto Insurance

    Auto insurance offered to drivers considered to carry the most ...
  3. Disease Management Program

    Disease management programs can help control health care expenses ...
  4. Current Liquidity

    The total amount of cash and unaffiliated holdings compared to ...
  5. Insurance Loss Control

    Risk management practices designed to reduce the likelihood of ...
  6. Protected Cell Company (PCC)

    A corporate structure in which a single legal entity is comprised ...
Related Articles
  1. Applying Binary Options To Equity Markets
    Options & Futures

    Applying Binary Options To Equity Markets

  2. Top 5 Forex Risks Traders Should Consider
    Economics

    Top 5 Forex Risks Traders Should Consider

  3. Funding Higher Education With An ISA
    Investing Basics

    Funding Higher Education With An ISA

  4. 7 Ways To Protect Against Credit Card ...
    Credit & Loans

    7 Ways To Protect Against Credit Card ...

  5. The Fear And Greed Cycle Lives On
    Markets

    The Fear And Greed Cycle Lives On

Trading Center