Common Stock

What is common stock?

Common stock is a share of ownership in a business that enables its holder to vote at shareholder meetings and to collect dividends.

Upon payment of all creditors and preferred shareholders, the common stockholders receive their proportionate part of the liquidation profits in the event of corporate dissolution.

When an investor owns the common stock of a company experiencing financial difficulties, this low level of liquidation preference might provide a risk of losing money. However, the majority of the gains flow to common owners when a corporation is profitable.

In many places, the law mandates that each share of common stock be allocated a par value. Technically, par value is the minimum price below which a share of stock cannot be sold. In actuality, par value is typically established at the lowest feasible amount, and in certain places it is not even required by incorporation law. Thus, par value is irrelevant in most circumstances.

In the equity portion of a company’s balance sheet, the dollar amount of common stock recognized by the corporation is listed. The quantity of common stock recorded by a firm is divided between the common stock account and the extra paid-in capital account; the total amount recorded corresponds to the price at which the business sold shares to its investors.

Common Stock

Common Stock Formula

Common shares are shares that may be purchased on the stock market, including those held by institutional investors and business officials (insiders) who own a firm. To calculate common stock, there is a special accounting formula: the number of issued shares minus the number of treasury shares equals the number of outstanding shares of common stock.

Common stock= [Total Equity + Treasury stock]-additional (paid-in) capital-preferred stock-Retained earnings

Common Stock Example

Common shareholders are entitled to specific privileges within the company. According to their share of ownership, they have the opportunity to vote on business affairs and for board members.

Common shareholders also have the right of first refusal to keep their percentage of ownership. For instance, if the firm is attempting to expand its operations by issuing more stock, the one percent owner has the right to purchase extra shares in order to keep his one percent ownership before other investors may acquire it.

The right to earn dividends is one of the several benefits of being a common investor. It is not the right to announce dividends, but the right to receive them when they are declared. Dividends are the distribution to shareholders of retained earnings. It is a return on their investment in the organization. When the board of directors declares dividends, common shareholders have the right to receive a proportion of dividends payable to common stock that corresponds to their ownership stake in the firm.

Features of the Common Shares

  • Stocks Represent Ownership

Common stock represents ownership in a corporation. One share is a fractional ownership stake proportional to the number of outstanding shares. If a corporation issues 100 shares of stock and an investor purchases 10 shares, the investor would control 10 percent of the company. Companies in the real world issue millions, and sometimes billions, of shares. However, each one represents a proportional piece of the company’s stock.

  • Voting Rights

The majority of common stocks have voting rights attached to them. Shareholders elect directors, who then select management accountable for the business’s direction. When a firm is involved in a merger or acquisition, shareholders frequently exercise their voting rights to voice their thoughts on the transactions.

  • Common Share Price

Theoretically, stock prices have no ceiling. In contrast, the value of a company’s stock shares might reach zero, rendering them useless. The dividend payout is one of the appealing features of common stocks. Numerous corporations distribute dividends to investors on a regular basis. This indicates the owner’s portion of earned earnings. In the event that a firm must liquidate or declare bankruptcy, the owners receive whatever is left over after creditors and bondholders are paid.

  • Common Bond Characteristics

The bonds issued by corporations, government agencies, and municipalities reflect loans made by bondholders to a firm or organization. The contract accompanying a bond issuance describes the issuer’s duties to bondholders and the issue’s specific characteristics, such as the interest rate.

  • Transformable and Callable

Some corporate bonds may include a clause allowing the bondholder to exchange the bond for a specific number of shares of the company’s stock. A bond may also be callable, which means that the issuer might require the bondholder to redeem prior to the maturity date.

  • Bond Rates, Maturity and Value

Bond investors do not get dividends in the form of corporate earnings; instead, they receive a coupon rate, which is a set return. Bonds contain an expiration date, also known as the maturity date, which is the day on which the principal is repaid to the investor. The principal is based on the bond’s par, or face value. When estimating future interest rate payments, bond prices are often known beforehand. Nonetheless, bond prices are susceptible to credit risk based on the issuer’s financial health and are influenced by inflation and market interest rates.

Advantages of issuing common stock

  • Performance

Compared to bonds and deposit certificates, the performance of common stocks is superior. However, there is no cap on the investor’s profits from their ownership of common stock. Consequently, common stocks are less costly and more practical alternatives to debt investments.

  • Electoral rights

An investor receives one voting right for each share of common stock held. These voting rights enable investors to participate in the making of company decisions and corporate policy.

In certain instances, investors can elect the board of directors by exercising their voting rights. The more common stock an investor has, the greater influence he will have over a company’s policy.

  • Liquidity

Due to their liquidity characteristics, investors may simply surrender or invest common stocks. Thus, these stocks enable investors to purchase shares and withdraw their whole investment if the firm fails to meet their expectations.

Liquidity gives investors the freedom to use their capital as they see appropriate without difficulty.

  • Limited Legal Liabilities

The responsibility of common shareholders extend beyond the financial investment events that occur within the corporation, and they must be concerned with all legal liabilities.

When a corporation provides increasing returns over time, ordinary shareholders are in a sense passive beneficiaries of a fixed income.

Passive shareholders are not liable in the event that the firm liquidates or encounters legal issues.


  • Market Risks

The principal risk associated with common stock is market risk. Market risk is the possibility that a firm will underperform over time.

A significant fall in the company’s performance might result in the shareholders consuming the profit and not receiving the dividends they desire.

This is a key criterion to examine since, even when the firm is functioning very well, common shareholders are not the only or first to earn dividends.

  • Uncertainty

Even while ownership of common stock might be considered a fixed-income investment, there is no assurance of dividends. The significant distinction, however, is that the revenue is not guaranteed at the expected time and dependent on the availability of cash in the corporation and how those funds are allocated.

When the corporation begins to distribute dividends, investors and ordinary stockholders are not the only recipients of instant payments.

They get dividends after shareholders and bondholders have received their entire dividend entitlement. Therefore, there is an element of unpredictability and lack of control over the profitability of common stocks.

Frequently Asked Questions

The primary distinction between preferred and common stock is that preferred stock does not grant stockholders voting rights, but common stock does. Preferred shareholders get dividends before regular shareholders because they have preference over a company’s profits.

  1. Preferred stock
  2. Domestic stock
  3. International stocks
  4. Large-cap stocks
  5. Mid-cap stocks
  6. Small-cap stocks
  7. Growth stocks

In the event of a firm liquidation, common stock and preferred stock rank below debt holders as creditors who would get assets. Both common stock and preferred stock represent equity ownership. They gain ownership rights in the corporation, including voting and dividends.

Short-term investors who are unable to hold ordinary stock long enough to overcome share price declines may benefit from investing in preferred stock. This is because preferred stock tends to vary less than common stock, but it also has less potential for long-term gain.

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