When a company establishes itself, it may need access to much larger amounts of capital than it can get from ongoing operations or a traditional bank loan. It can do so by selling shares to the public through an initial public offering (IPO).
This changes the status of the company from a private firm whose shares are held by a few shareholders to a publicly-traded company whose shares will be held by numerous members of the general public. The IPO also offers early investors in the company an opportunity to cash out part of their stake, often reaping very handsome rewards in the process.
Once the company’s shares are listed on a stock exchange and trading in it commences, the price of these shares fluctuates as investors and traders assess and reassess their intrinsic value. There are many different ratios and metrics that can be used to value stocks, of which the single-most popular measure is probably the price-to-earnings (PE) ratio. The stock analysis also tends to fall into one of two camps—fundamental analysis, or technical analysis.