Equity securities play a fundamental role in investment analysis and portfolio management. The importance of this asset class continues to grow on a global scale because of the need for equity capital in developed and emerging markets, technological innovation, and the growing sophistication of electronic information exchange. Given their absolute return potential and ability to impact the risk and return characteristics of portfolios, equity securities are of importance to both individual and institutional investors.
Global equity securities have offered an average annualized real return of 5% based on historical data, while the average annual real return is about 1% or 2% for government bills and bonds. However, equity securities are more volatile than government bills and bonds. They represent a key asset class for global investors because of their unique return and risk characteristics.