This section is from the "Everybody's Guide to Money Matters" book, by William Cotton. With a description of the various investments chiefly dealt in on the stock exchange, and the mode of dealing therein. Some account of the pitfalls prepared for the unwary, and suggestions to the cautious investor.
Next to the British Government Funds, by far the largest amount of money is invested in English railways. First in order of safety, as an investment, is the debenture stock of a railway company. This is the first charge on the railway, and holders of the stock are paid the interest thereon in priority to all other stocks. In the event of the failure of the company they must also be fully satisfied as to principal and interest before any one else can receive a penny. Any amount of stock, odd or even, may be purchased through a banker or broker, and warrants for the interest are forwarded half-yearly to the address of the registered holder. The debenture stocks of good English railways command a high premium, and the investment, therefore, though undoubtedly safe, does not yield much in the way of interest. Guaranteed stocks are of various kinds and rank -some on the same level as, and others next in order to, debenture stocks. In some cases the interest is guaranteed by another railway. Before investing in these stocks the nature of the guarantee should be ascertained and its value taken into consideration. Preference stocks and shares come next in rank as an investment. The interest on these is fixed at a certain rate per cent., and, after satisfying the preceding stocks, must be paid in full; or if there is not sufficient profit in the year to pay in full, then as much as means will allow. But any deficiency cannot be carried on to the next year, and so it is lost to the holders.
There are several degrees of Preference stock, some taking precedence of others as to interest; a first preference may be as good as debenture stock, whilst the last preference of the same railway company may be no better than ordinary stock.
Preference stock may be purchased in any amount in the market, and the interest warrants are sent half-yearly to the registered holders.
Ordinary stocks depend on the profits for the year for the interest they yield, and thus afford a wide field for speculation. The stocks of the great English lines may be relied upon as a good investment, the profits being steady and sufficient to assure a fair amount of interest after satisfying the prior claims of debenture and preference stocks.
Ordinary stock may also be purchased in any amount, and the warrants for interest are sent half-yearly to registered holders of stock.
In all cases railway warrants of every kind will, upon written request to the secretary of the railway company, be forwarded periodically to the bankers of the holder of the stock for the credit of his or her account.