I noticed that some very big companies would trade only 10 or 15 shares of a company which only got less than 5 USD per share.



Here is an example:


You can see that Barclay PLC sold 100 shares, which only is less than 50 bucks. But the company is holding a Portfolio Value $ 92,542,179,000.


  • 5
    Can you give some examples, without seeing them, it would be difficult to answer the question.
    – Dheer
    Nov 27, 2017 at 12:43
  • 1
    Share transactions that you see on the stock exchanges are not being sold by the company - they are being sold from one stock owner to a new stock owner. Some small time 'investors' may trade trivial amounts of stock due to their low funds [though such people likely should not be making tiny trades due to transaction costs]. This explains low volume trades on massive companies - the size of the company is irrelevant, it is only the size of the trader that matters. Nov 28, 2017 at 14:00
  • Barclays has interest in this company and is buying and selling. It also has active call/put options. I guess the reason for holding a small number of shares is; it get some kind of automated feed into Barclays system to work out the positions of call/put options that is slightly difficult in absence of it ... otherwise don't see a reason to hold few shares that are almost zero value.
    – Dheer
    Nov 30, 2017 at 2:57

2 Answers 2


Without knowing the details in the aforementioned example the number 1 reason for small trades is rebalancing.

Imagine a portfolio where 50% of the capital is in tech stocks and the other half in retail stocks. Now go one step into the future (a day, a week, a year, whatever): Your tech stocks might have advanced, say, 60% whereas your retailers, say, lost 20%. The capital is now distributed 2/3 in tech stocks and 1/3 in retailers.

If however you want to maintain the original 50/50 mix, for example because you're an ETF and promised your clients to do so, then now you'd have to sell some of your tech stocks and buy some retailers.

Of course there are various factors how you might end up with an imbalance (e.g. foreign currency exposure, dividends, shocks to volatility). When you're a fund or an ETF there's also the customer side of things: Imagine an additional investor that buys into your fund, say 0.1% of the fund's total volume. They want their cash performing like the rest of the fund so you'd have to buy 0.1% more of every stock you hold, and that might just amount to 15 shares.


There are at least three ways the company (e.g. Barclays) could hold stock:

  1. As a Broker for a Customer

    Many brokers hold stock 'in street name' (in the name of the firm, rather than in the name of the individual customer). This allows them to do things like borrowing one customers stock to allow another customer to short the company. So if an individual investor bought or sold an 'odd-lot', it would show up like this in the register.

  2. As a Fund for a Customer

    They may operate some kind of fund (like a mutual fund) where investors buy and sell pieces of the fund each day. As the fund owns a portfolio of stocks, if one investor adds $10,000, they may have to buy a little bit of this, and a little bit of that to ensure the $10,000 is full invested.

  3. For their own purposes

    They might be doing some house cleaning and realise there are some small positions they want to get rid of, or they have an algorithm hedging some derivative positions that doesn't care about the benefits of trading in 'round lots'. There could be any number of reasons...

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