NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's hard to check your email without hearing about the next "hot" penny stock that's going to make you rich. But what are penny stocks, and can they really deliver on those promises? Here's my 2 cents worth on penny stocks.
What Are Penny Stocks?
Low-priced, small-cap stocks are known as penny stocks. Contrary to their name, penny stocks rarely cost a penny. The SEC considers a penny stock to be pretty much anything under $5. And while there are sub $5 stocks trading on big exchanges like NYSE and NASDAQ, most investors don't think of these when asked to describe a penny stock.
Most individual investors look at penny stocks like Wall Street's Wild West, an untamed world of investing detached from all the glitz and media coverage that comes with stocks that are traded on major exchanges. While the gains and losses can be pretty impressive in the penny stock world, they're not often heard about elsewhere.
Just because you don't hear about penny stocks every day on CNBC doesn't mean that penny stocks are without drama. Unfortunately, penny stocks have also garnered a reputation as a game filled with scams and corruption. Indeed, penny stocks could be your wildest ride yet as an investor.
So then, if penny stocks usually aren't traded on normal exchanges, where can you buy them?
How to Buy Penny Stocks
Like any other stock you would buy, you can purchase shares of a penny stock through your normal stockbroker -- regardless of whether or not it's listed on a major exchange.