Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Market Basics : Trading and Settlement

What is a Stock Exchange?
A common platform where buyers and sellers come together to transact in stocks and shares. It may be a physical entity where brokers trade on a physical trading floor via an "open outcry" system or a virtual environment.
What is electronic trading?

Electronic trading eliminates the need for physical trading floors. Brokers can trade from their offices, using fully automated screen-based processes. Their workstations are connected to a Stock Exchange's central computer via satellite using Very Small Aperture Terminus (VSATs). The orders placed by brokers reach the Exchange's central computer and are matched electronically.

How many Exchanges are there in India?
The Stock Exchange, Mumbai (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) are the country's two leading Exchanges. There are 20 other regional Exchanges, connected via the Inter-Connected Stock Exchange (ICSE). The BSE and NSE allow nationwide trading via their VSAT systems.

What is an Index?
An Index is a comprehensive measure of market trends, intended for investors who are concerned with general stock market price movements. An Index comprises stocks that have large liquidity and market capitalisation. Each stock is given a weightage in the Index equivalent to its market capitalisation. At the NSE, the capitalisation of NIFTY (fifty selected stocks) is taken as a base capitalisation, with the value set at 1000. Similarly, BSE Sensitive Index or Sensex comprises 30 selected stocks. The Index value compares the day's market capitalisation vis-a-vis base capitalisation and indicates how prices in general have moved over a period of time.

How does one execute an order?
Select a broker of your choice and enter into a broker-client agreement and fill in the client registration form. Place your order with your broker preferably in writing. Get a trade confirmation slip on the day the trade is executed and ask for the contract note at the end of the trade date.

Why does one need a broker?
As per SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India.) regulations, only registered members can operate in the stock market. One can trade by executing a deal only through a registered broker of a recognised Stock Exchange or through a SEBI-registered sub-broker.

What is a contract note?
A contract note describes the rate, date, time at which the trade was transacted and the brokerage rate. A contract note issued in the prescribed format establishes a legally enforceable relationship between the client and the member in respect of trades stated in the contract note. These are made in duplicate and the member and the client both keep a copy each. A client should receive the contract note within 24 hours of the executed trade. Corporate Benefits/Action

What is a book-closure/record date?
Book closure and record date help a company determine exactly the shareholders of a company as on a given date.

Book closure refers to the closing of register of the names or investors in the records of a company. Companies announce book closure dates from time to time. The benefits of dividends, bonus issues, rights issue accruing to investors whose name appears on the company's records as on a given date, is known as the record date.

An investor might purchase a share-cum-dividend, cum rights or cum bonus and may therefore expect to receive these benefits as the new shareholder. In order to receive this, the share has to be transferred in the investor's name, or he would stand deprived of the benefits. The buyer of such a share will be a loser. It is important for a buyer of a share to ensure that shares purchased at cum benefits prices are transferred before book-closure. It must be ensured that the price paid for the shares is ex-benefit and not cum benefit.

What is the difference between book closure and record date?
In case of a record date, the company does not close its register of security holders. Record date is the cut off date for determining the number of registered members who are eligible for the corporate benefits. In case of book closure, shares cannot be sold on an Exchange bearing a date on the transfer deed earlier than the book closure. This does not hold good for the record date.

What is a no-delivery period?
Whenever a company announces a book closure or record date, the Exchange sets up a no-delivery (ND) period for that security. During this period only trading is permitted in the security. However, these trades are settled only after the no-delivery period is over. This is done to ensure that investor's entitlement for the corporate benefit is clearly determined.

What is an ex-dividend date?
The date on or after which a security begins trading without the dividend (cash or stock) included in the contract price.

What is an ex-date?
The first day of the no-delivery period is the ex-date. If there is any corporate benefits such as rights, bonus, dividend announced for which book closure/record date is fixed, the buyer of the shares on or after the ex-date will not be eligible for the benefits.

What is a Buy Back?
As the name suggests, it is a process by which a company can buy back its shares from shareholders. A company may buy back its shares in various ways: from existing shareholders on a proportionate basis; through a tender offer from open market; through a book-building process; from the Stock Exchange; or from odd lot holders.
A company cannot buy back through negotiated deals on or off the Stock Exchange, through spot transactions or through any private arrangement. Clearing and Settlement

What is a settlement cycle?
The accounting period for the securities traded on the Exchange. On the NSE, the cycle begins on Wednesday and ends on the following Tuesday, and on the BSE the cycle commences on Monday and ends on Friday.
At the end of this period, the obligations of each broker are calculated and the brokers settle their respective obligations as per the rules, bye-laws and regulations of the Clearing Corporation.
If a transaction is entered on the first day of the settlement, the same will be settled on the eighth working day excluding the day of transaction. However, if the same is done on the last day of the settlement, it will be settled on the fourth working day excluding the day of transaction.

What is a rolling settlement?
The rolling settlement ensures that each day's trade is settled by keeping a fixed gap of a specified number of working days between a trade and its settlement. At present, this gap is five working days after the trading day. The waiting period is uniform for all trades.

When does one deliver the shares and pay the money to broker?
As a seller, in order to ensure smooth settlement you should deliver the shares to your broker immediately after getting the contract note for sale but in any case before the pay-in day. Simliarly, as a buyer, one should pay immediately on the receipt of the contract note for purchase but in any case before the pay-in day.

What is short selling?
Short selling is a legitimate trading strategy. It is a sale of a security that the seller does not own, or any sale that is completed by the delivery of a security borrowed by the seller. Short sellers take the risk that they will be able to buy the stock at a more favourable price than the price at which they "sold short."

What is an auction?
An auction is conducted for those securities that members fail to deliver/short deliver during pay-in. Three factors primarily give rise to an auction: short deliveries, un-rectified bad deliveries, un-rectified company objections

Is there a separate market for auctions?
The buy/sell auction for a capital market security is managed through the auction market. As opposed to the normal market where trade matching is an on-going process, the trade matching process for auction starts after the auction period is over.

What happens if the shares are not bought in the auction?
If the shares are not bought at the auction i.e. if the shares are not offered for sale, the Exchange squares up the transaction as per SEBI guidelines. The transaction is squared up at the highest price from the relevant trading period till the auction day or at 20 per cent above the last available Closing price whichever is higher. The pay-in and pay-out of funds for auction square up is held along with the pay-out for the relevant auction.

What is bad delivery?
SEBI has formulated uniform guidelines for good and bad delivery of documents. Bad delivery may pertain to a transfer deed being torn, mutilated, overwritten, defaced, or if there are spelling mistakes in the name of the company or the transfer. Bad delivery exists only when shares are transferred physically. In "Demat" bad delivery does not exist.

What are company objections?
A list documenting reasons by a company for not transferring a share in the name of an investor is called company objections. Rejection occurs due to a signature difference, or fake shares, or forgery, or if there is a court injunction preventing the transfer of the shares.

What should one do with company objections?
The broker must immediately be notified. Company objection cases should be reported within 12 months from the date of issue of the memo for the original quantity of share under objection.

Who has to replace the shares in case of company objections?
The member who has sold the shares first on the Exchange is responsible for replacing the shares within 21 days of the Exchange being informed. Company objection cases that are not rectified or replaced are normally auctioned.

How does transfer of physical shares take place?
After a sale, the share certificate along with a proper transfer deed duly stamped and complete in all respects is sent to the company for transfer in the name of the buyer. Once the transfer is registered in the share transfer register maintained by the company, the process of transfer is complete.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Some of the more often used Terms

Stock Split
Book Closure Date
Bonus Shares
Book Value
Projected Earnings Growth(PEG)
Price To Earnings Ratio (PE)
Earnings per Share (EPS)

Kindly comment in case there are additional terms that you are not aware of so that I may add the same.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Stock Split

Stock split refers to a corporate action that increases the number of shares in a public company. The price of the shares are adjusted such that the before and after market capitalization of the company remains the same and dilution does not occur. Options and warrants are included.

Take, for example, a company with 100 shares of stock priced at Rs. 50 per share. The market capitalization is 100 × Rs. 50, or Rs. 5000. The company splits its stock 2-for-1. There are now 200 shares of stock and each shareholder holds twice as many shares. The price of each share is adjusted to Rs. 25. The market capitalization is 200 × Rs. 25 = Rs. 5000, the same as before the split.

Ratios of 2-for-1, 3-for-1, and 3-for-2 splits are the most common, but any ratio is possible. Splits of 4-for-3, 5-for-2, and 5-for-4 are used, though less frequently. Investors will sometimes receive cash payments in lieu of fractional shares.

It is often claimed that stock splits, in and of themselves, lead to higher stock prices; research, however, does not bear this out. What is true is that stock splits are usually initiated after a large run up in share price. Momentum investing would suggest that such a trend would continue regardless of the stock split. In any case, stock splits do increase the liquidity of a stock; there are more buyers and sellers for 10 shares at Rs. 10 than 1 share at Rs. 100.

Other effects could be psychological. If many investors believe that a stock split will result in an increased share price and purchase the stock the share price will tend to increase. Others contend that the management of a company, by initiating a stock split, is implicitly conveying its confidence in the future prospects of the company.

In a market where there is a high minimum number of shares, or a penalty for trading in so-called odd lots (a non multiple of some arbitrary number of shares), a reduced share price may attract more attention from small investors. Small investors such as these, however, will have negligible impact on the overall price.

Book closure date

This is the date on which a company closes its books for business after it announces a bonus or dividend. The company's registrar keeps a track of who owns how many shares of that particular company.

Any investor having shares in his/her demat account before this date becomes eligible for the bonus issue or the dividend declared.

Say a company A announces a 1:1 bonus issue and the book closure date is February 28, 2007.

If you don't own this company's share and want to avail of the bonus offer then you must not only buy this share before February 28 but also make sure that the number of shares purchased by you are transferred to your account from the seller before this date.

If the ownership of shares is reflected in your account after February 28 then you will not get any bonus shares. The same is also true for dividend announcements.


It is again a way of rewarding a company's shareholders. A dividend is generally issued as a percentage of the face value of a share. Face value is the nominal price of a company's share.

A share can have different face values like Re 1, Rs 2, Rs 5, Rs 10 or Rs 100. An 80% dividend on a share of face value Rs 2 (Rs 1.6) will always be less than a dividend of 20% declared on share of face value Rs 10 (Rs 4).

Like bonus shares, dividend amount also comes from a company's free cash reserves.

Bonus shares

These are the free shares that a listed company gives its shareholders.

A bonus is declared after a discussion amongst the board members that make up the management of a company.

A bonus issue is looked upon as a way of rewarding shareholders.

For instance, let us take a company A that has made a profit of Rs 100 crore in the financial year 2007 (April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007).

Out of this amount the company may need Rs 50 crore for say buying machinery or constructing a new warehouse. And the remaining Rs 50 crore the company puts into its reserve pool or idle cash that the company has no plans to spend.

It can then issue bonus shares out of these Rs 50 crore.

When a company declares a bonus issue it converts this idle cash into shares that are then distributed amongst its shareholders. This process is called capitalising of reserves.

A bonus is usually declared as a ratio. A bonus issue in the ratio of 1:1 means you will get one free share for every one share of the company you own.

A 2:1 bonus issue (or two for every one held) means you will get two free shares of a company for every one that you own. Similarly, a 5:1 bonus issue will give you five free shares for every one share that you own.


Bull's counterpart is the bear.

A bear sells stocks first that s/he owns or borrows from, say a friend, and then purchases the same quantity of shares at a lower price.

If a bear sells first, say 100 shares of Ranbaxy at Rs 400, and later purchases the same number of shares at Rs 375, then her/his profit is Rs 25 (400-375) per share.

This way s/he has got back the 100 shares of Ranbaxy and simultaneously made a profit of Rs 2500. The shares can later be returned to the bear's friend if s/he had borrowed the same from a friend.

There are bears in the market that sell shares first without actually owning them unlike in the above example. Such selling is called naked short selling or going short on a stock.

Bears are happy in a falling market.

While individual investors can engage in selling first and buying later (also referred to as short selling), mutual funds and foreign institutional investors are not allowed this luxury in India yet.