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A promissory note that is backed by the general credit of the issuing company. Unlike a mortgage bond, a debenture is generally not secured by a mortgage or lien on any specific property.

Debit Balance

The portion of a stock's purchase price that is supplied by the broker extending credit to an investor in a margin account.


Funds borrowed from a creditor and that must be repaid. Short-term debt represents those obligations that must be repaid in the near term, which typically means within one year. Long-term debt represents those obligations, such as a mortgage, that are not required to be repaid in the near future.


A charge taken against a firm's earnings to approximate the deterioration in the value of company's tangible assets each year. Although a charge for depreciation reduces a firm's net income, it is termed a noncash charge and is typically added back to net income when calculating a firm's cash flow because it entails no out-of-pocket expense.


A wide variety of securities, such as futures, options, inverse-rate floating bonds, and floating rate bonds, that are derived from other less complex instruments, such as common stocks and bonds. They are called derivatives because they derive their value from their underlying securities. Typically, derivatives are significantly more volatile than the underlying securities on which they are based and entail the use of leverage or margin.


A person elected by shareholders to serve on a company's Board of Directors.

Discretionary Account

A type of investment account in which the individual has granted his/her broker or money manager full authority to trade securities in the account.


An investment philosophy of investing among different types of securities, companies, and/or markets to reduce investment risk. For example, an investor who believes in diversifying might allocate his/her portfolio among gold, international stocks, bonds, domestic large-cap stocks, domestic small-cap stocks, and cash. Other individuals practice "time diversification" whereby they add to their security holdings periodically, such as every month, to avoid purchasing at market high points.


A payment made by a company out of its earnings to its shareholders.

Dividend Yield

A measure that shows the current income return from a particular stock.

Dividend Yield = Annual Dividend Per Share
Market Price of the Stock

Dollar Cost Averaging

An investment approach whereby an investor invests in the same security on a regular interval.

Dow Jones Averages

A variety of well-known stock market averages that attempt to measure the overall trend of the market. The best known of these averages is the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is comprised of 30 large industrial stocks. Two lesser-known averages are the Dow Jones Transportation Average, which is comprised of 20 transportation stocks, and the Dow Jones Utility Average, which is comprised of 15 utility stocks.

Dow Theory

A technical method for forecasting market trends (bull or bear) based on the interpretation of the daily fluctuations of the Dow Jones Industrial and Transportation Averages.

Down Tick

Indicates that the transaction was made at a price lower than the preceding transaction. Also called a minus tick. See Up Tick.


"Dividend Reinvestment Plan," also expressed as "DRP." A DRIP enables a shareholder to buy additional stock in a particular company directly from that company without using a stockbroker.

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