Preferred Stock

What is a preferred stock?

Preferred stock is a share of a corporation similar to a normal (or common) stock, but it provides stockholders with additional protections. For instance, preferred stock investors have priority over regular stockholders where dividend payments are concerned.

Preferred stockholders are also ranked higher in the capital structure of the firm, meaning they will be paid out before common shareholders in the event of a liquidation. Therefore, preferred stocks are typically seen as less risky than regular stocks, but riskier than bonds.

Preferred stock example

Corporation X is a fledgling company seeking funding. It issues 10,000 shares, 1,000 of which are preferred. Investor Y acquires 200 preferred shares. As long as the firm is profitable, she may sit back and wait for dividends to start coming in, generating a steady income.

How preferred stocks work

Despite the fact that preferred stock and ordinary stock share a name, they are radically different in terms of risk and return.

In a number of respects, preferred stocks behave more like bonds, which are fixed-income investments.

Typically, preferred stocks provide set dividends on a predetermined timetable.

Similar to other fixed-income assets, preferred stocks may react to changes in interest rates.

Similar to bonds, preferred shares have a “par value” at which they can be redeemed, which is normally $25 per share. And both may be repurchased, or “called”, by the issuer after a predetermined time period, often five years.

Preferred stock vs common stock vs bonds

Preferred stocks are a great option for people wanting a regular income with a bigger payment than they would receive from dividends on common stock or bonds. However, they do not provide the unlimited upward potential of ordinary stocks and the security of bonds.

Typically, a corporation offers preferred stock for many of the same reasons it issues bonds, and investors like preferred stock for comparable reasons. Without issuing more expensive ordinary stock, preferred stock and bonds are advantageous alternatives for a firm to obtain capital. Investors like preferred stock because this form of stock often offers a greater yield than the bonds of a corporation.

Consequently, if preferred stocks offer a larger dividend yield, why wouldn’t investors always purchase them over bonds? The quick answer is that preferred stock carries greater risk than bonds.

Here are some the risk-based distinctions between asset classes.

Bonds: Investing in a publicly listed firm through bonds is often the most secure option for investors. Legally, interest payments on bonds must precede dividends on preferred and ordinary stock. In the event of a corporate liquidation, bondholders would be paid first, assuming any remaining funds exist. Bonds are low-risk and low-reward investments because investors are ready to accept a lower interest rate in exchange for safety.

Preferred stock: In exchange for a bigger dividend, owners are ready to take a position behind bonds but ahead of common stock. (The basis of the term “preferred stock” is their preference over common stock.) As soon as bondholders have received their dividends, preferred shareholders may collect theirs. A firm might sometimes not make dividend payments, which increases risk. Therefore, preferred stocks have a little higher dividend yield in exchange for a slightly higher risk, but their potential return is often limited to the dividend yield

Common stock: At the end of the payout line are common stockholders, who will get a payout only if the corporation is paying a dividend and everyone before them has got their entire payout. In the case of a company’s bankruptcy-related liquidation, these investors receive the remaining assets after bondholders and preferred stockholders are compensated in full. In contrast to bonds and preferred stocks, however, a common stockholder’s gains are not capped if the firm is successful.

How to buy preferred stock

The fact that preferred equities are traded on the same exchanges as regular stocks gives price transparency. However, as a majority of corporations do not issue preferred shares, the market for them is very small and liquidity might be constrained. Banks, insurance firms, utilities, and real estate investment trusts are the most common issuers of preferred stock.

You may need to evaluate many offerings from companies that issue preferred shares. Typically, a single issuer will offer a variety of preferred securities with varying yields. Prior to acquiring preferreds, an investor can study Moody’s or S&P’s credit rating for each issue and weigh it with other characteristics, such as yields, callability, and convertibility.

You can acquire preferreds in any brokerage account, but remember that their ticker symbols will differ from their common stock counterparts. Verify all of the information to confirm that you are ordering the desired product.

Features of Preferred Shares

  • They Could Be Changed Into Common Stock

Converting preference shares to ordinary stock is straightforward. If a shareholder desires to alter his or her holdings, they are changed into a set number of preference stocks.

Some preference shares advise investors that they can be converted beyond a certain date, while others may require authorization and approval from the board of directors in order to be converted.

  • Payouts of Dividends

Preference shares let investors get dividends when other stockholders may receive dividends later or not at all.

  • Dividend

When it comes to dividends, preference shareholders enjoy a significant advantage over equity and other shareholders since they get dividends first.

Voting Rights Preference shareholders are entitled to the right to vote in the case of extraordinary occurrences. However, only in specific instances does this occur. In most cases, acquiring a company’s stock does not confer voting rights on the company’s management.

  • Prioritisation Of Assets

Preferred shareholders have priority over common shareholders when negotiating a company’s assets in the event of liquidation.

Types of Preferred Stock

There are nine categories of preference shares:

  • Redeemable Preference Shares
  • Non-Redeemable Preference Shares
  • Participating Preference Shares
  • Non-Participating Preference Shares
  • Convertible Preference Shares
  • Non-Convertible Preference Shares
  • Cumulative Preference Shares
  • Non-Cumulative Preference Shares
  • Adjustable Preference Shares

Benefits of Preferred Stock

From the perspective of an investor, there are a number of advantages to investing in preferred shares:


  • Priority Payments: It is crucial to understand that favored shareholders receive priority payments. Due to the structure of the financial instrument, priority shareholders must be paid before common stockholders. These priority payments effectively ensure coupon payments at a greater rate until the firm has cash flow difficulties and is on the verge of bankruptcy.
  • Lower Default Risk: Preferred shareholders are regarded as senior in the debt structure of the company. This means that in the unfortunate case of dissolution or liquidation, preferred shareholders will have a greater claim than equity stockholders. This indicates that the risk of default associated with preferred shares is substantially lower than the risk associated with common shares.
  • Tax Advantages: In the United States, the income from preferred shares has a favorable tax status. The tax code enumerates specific types of preferred stock. The dividend for these shares is taxed at a rate much lower than the standard income tax rate.

Disadvantages of preferred shares

There are a number of downsides associated with preferred stock transactions, despite the fact that preferred shares are typically regarded as a safe choice. Some of these drawbacks are described here.

  • First, preferred shares are considered significantly differently from bond investments due to the risk of dividend deferral. In the case of bond investments, investors must consider the risk of default. But other issues must be considered with preferred shares. For instance, the issuer may be unable to make dividend payments in a given year and may be required to delay such payments. In such circumstances, preference share owners have no recourse and must give up the dividend payout for that year. Therefore, investors cannot rely only on dividend payouts.
  • No Claim to the Firm: The preference shareholders have no actual claim on the corporation. This signifies that their claim is not backed by any particular asset. Instead, they will be compensated only if there is any value remaining after all senior creditors have been paid. Only in the event of the company’s collapse are they ranked above equity stockholders. Consequently, they are somewhat susceptible to the risk of default. This makes preference shares more risky, as their downside is equivalent to that of bonds, but their upside is smaller than that of bonds.

Frequently Asked Questions

On the balance sheet, preferred stock is included in shareholders’ equity. The issuing of preferred shares offers a source of funding. Depending on the kind of preferred stock, such as convertible or non-convertible preferred stock, further classifications are possible.

The call feature is a common characteristic shared by preferred stocks and many bonds. The firm that sold you preferred stock can often, but not always, require the repurchase the shares at a specified price.

Equity includes preferred stock. As with ordinary stock, its shares indicate an ownership interest in a corporation. However, preferred stock often has a set dividend distribution. Thus, preferred stock is sometimes referred to as a bond-like stock.

Investing in preferred stocks rather than debt instruments is primarily motivated by the prospect of higher dividends and dividend yields, as well as capital appreciation.

Preferred stocks see a price increase when interest rates fall and a price decrease when interest rates rise. As interest rates decline, the attractiveness of the dividend yield provided by a preferred stock’s dividend payments increases, causing investors to bid up the stock’s market value.

Bonds and preferred shares tend to underperform common stock. It is also the stock kind with the greatest potential for long-term returns. The value of common stock might rise if a firm performs well. Keep in mind, however, that if the firm performs poorly, so will the stock.

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