What Are Warrants in Stocks – Easy Step by Step Guide

Warrants in stocks, also known as stock warrants, allows you to buy a company’s stock down the road at a fixed price and date. This means that even if the company’s share price is higher as at the time you are buying, it does not affect your investment. 

However, this doesn’t entirely guarantee you a profit as you can lose if the company’s shares trade lower than the strike price. So, what are warrants in stocks? How do stock warrants work? What makes them different from other financial derivatives? All these and more you’ll find answers to in this article.

How Do Stock Warrants Work ?

Financial instruments provide investment opportunities that investors can leverage to increase their portfolio and earning power.

The most common of them include bonds, options, mutual funds, amongst others. However, there is another viable alternative that many are probably yet to discover.

What Are Warrants in Stocks - Easy Step by Step Guide  - Picture of a stock warrant
Stock Warrant Example

A warrant in stock is a contract between an investor and a company that gives the investor the right to acquire a company’s stock at a specific price and date. 

Warrants are a company’s way of enticing well-to-do investors to buy the company’s shares, offering them a better stance during an uptrend in the company in the future. At other times, it can be an incentive to outstanding employees in the company.

Practically, as a warrant stockholder, you can buy the stock later on at the warrant’s “strike price” (the agreed-upon price) which may be lower than the current stock trading price. Another great benefit warrant stock offers you is the opportunity to buy newly issued stock from the company that issued the warrant. 

More so, though it comes with a fixed date (after which it expires), you enjoy the privilege of making the stock warrant purchase at a later date. However, you will have to do that through common stocks and if they decide to.

You should know that there is no smoke without a fire. Warrant stock is a strategy companies use to attract investors to purchase shares so that they can gain from the investment. Also, a warrant does not grant you ownership of the stock, rather, it’s a right to gain the company’s share in the future for a particular price. 

In addition, a stock warrant loses its value and is no longer valid when it expires. Hence, you need to use; either buy or sell before the expiry date. For more on the definition of warrant in stocks, watch this video.

What Makes Up a Stock Warrant?

Let’s point out the components of a stock warrant. Here’s what’s inside the financial instrument:

  • An Up-Front Notice: In any stock warrant contract, the recipient can tell the company when he (she) will exercise their right; purchase the underlying stock. 

The company that offered the stock warrant, on getting the purchase notice, will issue new stock shares. This is to increase the number of shares its stock will trade. And, the outcome will be an increment in the company’s total shares of stock, which can reduce the price of the stock.

  • The Pricing Process: Once a company issues a new bond offering, the next thing it does is to declare a stock warrant strike (otherwise called the exercise price).
  • The Expiration Date: Any stock warrant comes with an expiration date, which is listed on the contract.

Why Do Companies Issue Stock Warrants?

Companies issue warrants for a lot of reasons. This could be to raise capital by attracting investors, retaining employees, or offset the impending risk of huge losses.

When it’s to raise capital or counteract impending risks, the company usually publicizes its warrants in the open market to attract individual and institutional investors. Given the massive buying power of institutional investors, they influence the market with their big purchases. Therefore helping to actualize big capital revenue for the company.

Also, when it’s to retain employees, they normally put restrictions on when these warrants can be exercised. Therefore, employees have to wait out a few years before claiming their benefits. You can learn more about why companies issue stock warrants here in this video

Types of Stock Warrants

Stock warrants have diverse types, and they include:

Puttable Warrants

Here, you have a proportion of shares you can resell back to the company at a fixed price especially to obtain your accumulated profits. It has a deadline.

Callable Warrants

You can purchase a certain amount of shares from a company using a callable warrant. This is an authorized warrant that has a deadline.

Covered Warrants

Covered warrants allow you to buy or sell equity, currencies, and financial tools issued from giant financial institutions, not from individual companies. 

Naked Warrants

With naked warrants, you can exercise flexibility as a shareholder. A naked warrant entitles you to exchange your warrant for security, that is to say, you are not tied to a preferred stock or bond.

Wedded Warrants 

As the name implies, it works closely with bonds. You can’t buy and sell it independently, rather, together with bonds.  

Traditional Warrants

Just like the wedded warrant, you can also purchase a traditional warrant with bonds but you can sell them separately in the secondary market.

Examples of Stock Warrants – American vs European

What Are Warrants in Stocks - Easy Step by Step Guide - Warrant to Purchase Common Stock
SemGroup Stock Warrant

Here is an example of how a stock warrant applies in the  USA and Europe:

Say that XYZ Corp. wants to issue a series of stock warrants to new employees, It could structure its warrants as follows:

American-style of Stock Warrants

The warrant for 5,000 shares of XYZ Corp. stock is at the strike price of $30 within five years of expiration. This stock warrant offers you the right, but not the obligation, to buy up to 5,000 shares of XYZ Corp. for $30 per share. 

This is to say that even if the stock is selling for $80 per share, you can still buy it at $30 per share. The more the stock’s price surges, the more valuable this warrant becomes for you. 

And, you can exercise this right at any time within the five years duration. Beyond that, the warrant expires and becomes useless.

European-style of Stock Warrants

Warrant for 5,000 shares of XYZ stock at $100 strike price on July 1. This warrant bestows on you the right, but not the obligation, to sell up all your shares back to the corporation for $100 per share. 

This means that the company re-buys from you at the same rate they sold to you even if the stock is worth $20 per share. Hence, as the stock plummets, the more valuable this warrant becomes for you. 

Since this is a European-style warrant, you can only exercise it on July 1. Before that date, it has not yet matured, while afterward, it has expired.

Companies hardly issue puttable warrants, because when they do so, they would be trading against their own stock. Therefore, you must navigate through a lot of legal, ethical, and cultural issues during any put warrant issuance.

Whenever a company auctions stock warrants, it will also issue the warrant with a price set per share. So, for instance, a stock warrant of 1,000 shares sold at $5, equals $5 per share, or $5,000.

How Do Stock Warrants Work? 

Typically, a warrant acts as bait for companies, to attract investors to buy the company’s shares. They give you the privilege to take advantage of a rising market, where you get greater percentage gains on your shares, compared to common shares. 

Let’s consider the warrant of an imaginary company, Gladstone Energy. Each Gladstone warrant, which trades on the TSX but in U.S dollars, gives the holder the right to buy one common share at   $38.20 (U.S.) until Sep. 22, 2021. The warrants were recently sold for $25.65, and the common shares at $52.50.

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Buying the warrant when you don’t foresee an increase in stock price may not be the best decision. At this point, it costs more to purchase the warrant ($25.65) and exercise it ($38.20) when compared to the current price of the stock. Though if you expect a price rise, then the warrant is valuable. 

A general rule for rating how promising a warrant is will be to evaluate its worth per share per adventure share price doubled. Assume that Gladstone doubled to $105, the warrant will skyrocket to $66.8 (the share price less than the exercise price), and that’s a lot of gains.

There’s one thing you must know though. If Gladstone trades at $38.20 or less than that at the tail end of September 2020, the warrants are as good as nothing, they expire.

How to Buy Stock Warrants

Firstly, to buy a stock warrant, you should be able to differentiate it from the common stock. Common stock and stock warrant tickers are placed side by side in the exchange platform. But, there is a way to fish it out; the extra letter ticker. 

For instance, Gladstone Energy Inc. the common stock will trade with the ticker GLDSE while the warrant will use the ticker GLDSEW or GLDSEWS. This means that stock warrants have an extra “W” or” or “WS” symbol” symbol attached to their tickers.

Taxes on Stock Warrants

Stock warrants are taxable and their tax rate is different from that of common stock or stock options. The breaks that stock options enjoy such as employees’ tax preferential treatment are not applicable to warrant stock.

Let’s say the warrant you exercised is $15 per share to buy 100 shares of XYZ, and the warrant costs you $300. Your total investment is $1,800, and If the market price on the day of exercise is $50, the shares are worth $5,000 and the difference is $3,200 which is your profit.

That amount is seen as ordinary income, not a capital gain since you didn’t own the stock before exercising the warrants. You can always consult a tax expert to make sure you understand and follow relevant tax rules

Stock Warrants vs. Stock Options

Stock warrants and stock options are very identical, they are similar in features and benefits. Yet, each has its uniqueness, hence they differ in some ways.

Similarities

  • Both are investment/financial agreements that let an individual buy a particular company’s stock at a given price, within a given time. 
  • Each of them is specifically designed to offer investors the opportunity of making a profit on their investment. 
  • Both are traded widely on major financial exchanges such as the NYSE or the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Major Differences

  • Stock Warrants Are a Company’s Strategy For Raising Capital.

Unlike stock options, the major purpose companies issue stock warrants are to raise capital. On the flip side, stock options are ways investors can predict a company’s stock. Only the investors benefit from stock options.

  • Works With Different Times

For stock warrants, the investment window is wide open, it can last up to 5 years, and more in some cases. Stock options, on the other hand, can expire within days, weeks, or months. 

This is the reason investors often prefer stock options for short-term investment strategies. Stock warrants serve more for a long-term investment strategy.

  • The difference in taxation method

Tax rules for stock warrants and stock options differ. Taxation on stock warrants depends on the usage of warrants. Stock warrants often attract taxes when you exercise them.

You can learn more about stock warrants vs stock options in the video below.

Pros & Cons of Stock Warrants

Pros

  • Stock warrants possess high upside potential, offering you the opportunity to make huge profits.
  • Exercise dates are usually far, and this is beneficial to the investors. You have more chances of making a profit, unlike some alternatives like stock options which work with shorter periods.
  • Dividends can adjust strike price, and lessen it.

Cons

  • Risky due to volatility.
  • Availability of scant.
  • More complex than other similar options.

CONCLUSION

Warrants in stocks are a cost-effective trading instrument that allows you to earn a fortune. Yet, like all financial derivatives, they have elements of subtlety. Be sure to read in between lines and understand exactly how they work before you buy or sell them. 

You can contact a financial advisor to guide you through the processes involving a stock warrant. You can stay in touch at Successful Tradings to learn more about stock warrants and other such financial instruments..