What is a Growth Stock?
Growth stocks are fast-growing, higher-risk companies. They tend to be young. They offer a higher chance of higher returns and a higher chance of bankruptcy.
How Does a Growth Stock Work?
The nature of a company's business determines many of the characteristics of its stock, especially for growth stocks. For example, blue-chip stocks are issued by high-quality, large companies and generally have steady dividend payments. Their values don't 'jump around' as much as shares of smaller, riskier companies, generally speaking, and so conservative investors who like dividend payments and not much risk tend to like blue-chip stocks. Companies that pay out dividends are typically not growth stocks -- they are generally mature companies that feel the highest and best use of its excess cash is dividends rather than, say, research and development or other investments.
Growth stocks are generally riskier than other types of companies, but they also offer a chance at very high returns. These returns are often in the form of capital gains rather than dividends. Tech stocks are generally good examples -- they tend to reinvest all excess cash into their businesses and rely heavily on research and development of products that can be very lucrative but easily outdated.
Why Do Growth Stocks Matter?
It's important to note that a company's stock can fall into more than one category. Large-cap stocks can be blue-chip stocks, growth stocks or income stocks, for example. Small-cap stocks can be growth stocks, income stocks, or tech stocks. However, perhaps the most important attribute of growth stocks is that like all stocks, their holders are the last in line when it comes to getting their money back. If the company goes bankrupt and has to sell off all its assets, the cash from the asset sale first goes to pay off lenders, employees and lawyers. The shareholders get whatever is left (which is usually nothing, or just a few pennies for every dollar they originally invested).
Deciding whether to buy growth stocks, or which growth stocks to buy, requires you to consider your goals in life, your age, your cash needs, future cash needs you might have (retirement, college, etc.), your tax situation, the nature of your other investments, and how much risk you're willing to take.