Companies that allow you to purchase your first share, and all other shares, of their stock directly from them without going through a broker are said to have Direct Stock Plans. These shares are also called No-Load-Stock or No-Load-Shares because you can purchase them without a broker's fee or "load" (although you may be charged a small administrative fee).

Although the companies that offer Direct Stock Plans are few (numbering in the hundreds), there are more and more each year. A number of companies that you have probably heard of like McDonald's, Mattel, Exxon, Home Depot, Gillette, International Business Machines (IBM), J.C.Penny Company, Procter & Gamble Company, Sears, Roebuck & Company, Texaco, Inc., and WalMart all offer Direct Stock Plans.

Unlike DRIPS, you don't have to already own a share of the company's stock in your name before you participate. The simple act of signing up for Direct Stock Plans makes you a shareholder of record.