Common stock

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Common stock is a form of corporate equity ownership, a type of security. The terms voting share and ordinary share are also used frequently in other parts of the world; "common stock" being primarily used in the United States. They are known as Equity shares or Ordinary shares in the UK and other Commonwealth realms. This type of share gives the stockholder the right to share in the profits of the company, and to vote on matters of corporate policy and the composition of the members of the board of directors.

Equity (finance) difference between the value of the assets/interest and the cost of the liabilities of something owned

In accounting, equity is the difference between the value of the assets and the value of the liabilities of something owned. It is governed by the following equation:

Security (finance) tradable financial asset

A security is a tradable financial asset. The term commonly refers to any form of financial instrument, but its legal definition varies by jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions the term specifically excludes financial instruments other than equities and fixed income instruments. In some jurisdictions it includes some instruments that are close to equities and fixed income, e.g., equity warrants. In some countries and languages the term "security" is commonly used in day-to-day parlance to mean any form of financial instrument, even though the underlying legal and regulatory regime may not have such a broad definition.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.


It is called "common" to distinguish it from preferred stock. If both types of stock exist, common/equity stockholders usually cannot be paid dividends until all preferred/preference stock dividends are paid in full; it is possible to have common stock that has dividends that are paid alongside the preferred stock.

Preferred stock type of stock which may have any combination of features not possessed by common stock

Preferred stock is a form of stock which may have any combination of features not possessed by common stock including properties of both an equity and a debt instrument, and is generally considered a hybrid instrument. Preferred stocks are senior to common stock, but subordinate to bonds in terms of claim and may have priority over common stock in the payment of dividends and upon liquidation. Terms of the preferred stock are described in the issuing company's articles of association or articles of incorporation.

Dividend payment made by a corporation to its shareholders, usually as a distribution of profits

A dividend is a payment made by a corporation to its shareholders, usually as a distribution of profits. When a corporation earns a profit or surplus, the corporation is able to re-invest the profit in the business and pay a proportion of the profit as a dividend to shareholders. Distribution to shareholders may be in cash or, if the corporation has a dividend reinvestment plan, the amount can be paid by the issue of further shares or share repurchase. When dividends are paid, shareholders typically must pay income taxes, and the corporation does not receive a corporate income tax deduction for the dividend payments.

In the event of bankruptcy, common stock investors receive any remaining funds after bondholders, creditors (including employees), and preferred stockholders are paid. As such, common stock investors often receive nothing after a liquidation bankruptcy Chapter 7.

Bankruptcy legal status of a person or other entity that cannot repay the debts it owes to creditors

Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor.

Chapter 7 of the Title 11 of the United States Code governs the process of liquidation under the bankruptcy laws of the United States. Chapter 7 is the most common form of bankruptcy in the United States.

Common stockholders can also earn money through capital appreciation. Common shares may perform better than preferred shares or bonds over time, in part to accommodate the increased risk. [1]

Capital appreciation is an increase in the price or value of assets. It may refer to appreciation of company stocks or bonds held by an investor, an increase in land valuation, or other upward revaluation of fixed assets.

Shareholder rights

Shareholder rights are more conceptual than technical or factual. Their most common source is in the statutory and case law of the jurisdiction in which the company was formed. Information about what people think of as shareholder rights can also be found in the corporate charter and governance documents, but companies do not actually have documentation outlining specific "Shareholder Rights". Some shareholders elect to enter into shareholder agreements that create new rights among the shareholders, and it is common for the company to be a party to that agreement. [ citation needed ]

Some common stock shares have voting rights on certain matters, such as electing the board of directors. However, in the United States, a company can have both a "voting" and "non-voting" series of common stock, as with preferred stock, but not in countries which have laws against multiple voting and non-voting shares.

Non-voting stock is stock that provides the shareholder very little or no vote on corporate matters, such as election of the board of directors or mergers. This type of share is usually implemented for individuals who want to invest in the company’s profitability and success at the expense of voting rights in the direction of the company. Preferred stock typically has non-voting qualities.

Hypothetically speaking, holders of voting common stock can influence the corporation through votes on establishing corporate objectives and policy, stock splits, and electing the company's board of directors. In practice, it's questionable whether or not such actions can be organized or ruled in their favor. Some shareholders, including holders of common stock, also receive preemptive rights, which enable them to retain their proportional ownership in a company if it issues additional stock or other securities. There is no fixed dividend paid out to common/equity stockholders and so their returns are uncertain, contingent on earnings, company reinvestment, and efficiency of the market to value and sell stock. [2]


Common/Equity stock is classified to differentiate it from preferred stock. Each is considered a "class" of stock, with different series of each issued from time to time such as Series B Preferred Stock. Nevertheless, using "Class B Common Stock" is a common label for a super-voting series of common stock.

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A shareholder is an individual or institution, including a corporation, that legally owns one or more shares of stock in a public or private corporation. Shareholders may be referred to as members of a corporation. Legally, a person is not a shareholder in a corporation until their name and other details are entered in the corporation‘s register of shareholders or members. A beneficial shareholder is the person that has the economic benefit of ownership of the shares, while a nominee shareholder is the person who is on the corporation’s register as the owner while being in fact acting for the benefit and at the direction of the beneficiary, whether disclosed or not.


In corporate finance, a debenture is a medium- to long-term debt instrument used by large companies to borrow money, at a fixed rate of interest. The legal term "debenture" originally referred to a document that either creates a debt or acknowledges it, but in some countries the term is now used interchangeably with bond, loan stock or note. A debenture is thus like a certificate of loan or a loan bond evidencing the fact that the company is liable to pay a specified amount with interest and although the money raised by the debentures becomes a part of the company's capital structure, it does not become share capital. Senior debentures get paid before subordinate debentures, and there are varying rates of risk and payoff for these categories.

Warrant (finance) security that entitles the holder to buy stock

In finance, a warrant is a security that entitles the holder to buy the underlying stock of the issuing company at a fixed price called exercise price until the expiry date.

Corporate action

A corporate action is an event initiated by a public company that will bring an actual change to the securities—equity or debt—issued by the company. Corporate actions are typically agreed upon by a company's board of directors and authorized by the shareholders. Examples of corporate actions include stock splits, dividends, mergers and acquisitions, rights issues, and spin-offs.

Treasury stock

A treasury stock or reacquired stock is stock which is bought back by the issuing company, reducing the amount of outstanding stock on the open market.

An investment trust is a form of collective investment found mostly in the United Kingdom. Investment trusts are closed-end funds and are constituted as public limited companies. In many respects, the investment trust was the progenitor of the investment company in the U.S.

Corporate law body of law that applies to the rights, relations, and conduct of persons, companies, organizations and businesses

Corporate law is the body of law governing the rights, relations, and conduct of persons, companies, organizations and businesses. It refers to the legal practice relating to, or the theory of corporations. Corporate law often describes the law relating to matters which derive directly from the life-cycle of a corporation. It thus encompasses the formation, funding, governance, and death of a corporation.

Eisner v. Macomber, 252 U.S. 189 (1920), was a tax case before the United States Supreme Court that is notable for the following holdings:

Rights issue

A rights issue or rights offer is a dividend of subscription rights to buy additional securities in a company made to the company's existing security holders. When the rights are for equity securities, such as shares, in a public company, it is a non-dilutive pro rata way to raise capital. Rights issues are typically sold via a prospectus or prospectus supplement. With the issued rights, existing security-holders have the privilege to buy a specified number of new securities from the issuer at a specified price within a subscription period. In a public company, a rights issue is a form of public offering.

Participating preferred stock

Participating preferred stock is preferred stock which provides a specific dividend that is paid before any dividends are paid to common stock holders, and which takes precedence over common stock in the event of a liquidation. This form of financing is used by private equity investors and venture capital firms. Holders of participating preferred stock get both their money back and the money that is distributable with respect to the percentage of common shares into which their preferred stock can convert.

Stock dilution, also known as equity dilution, is the decrease in existing shareholders’ ownership of a company as a result of the company issuing new equity. New equity increases the total shares outstanding which has a dilutive effect on the ownership percentage of existing shareholders. This increase in the number of shares outstanding can result from a primary market offering, employees exercising stock options, or by issuance or conversion of convertible bonds, preferred shares or warrants into stock. This dilution can shift fundamental positions of the stock such as ownership percentage, voting control, earnings per share, and the value of individual shares.

Share repurchase is the re-acquisition by a company of its own stock. It represents a more flexible way of returning money to shareholders.

A venture round is a type of funding round used for venture capital financing, by which startup companies obtain investment, generally from venture capitalists and other institutional investors. The availability of venture funding is among the primary stimuli for the development of new companies and technologies.

Stock financial instrument

The stock of a corporation is all of the shares into which ownership of the corporation is divided. In American English, the shares are commonly known as "stocks." A single share of the stock represents fractional ownership of the corporation in proportion to the total number of shares. This typically entitles the stockholder to that fraction of the company's earnings, proceeds from liquidation of assets, or voting power, often dividing these up in proportion to the amount of money each stockholder has invested. Not all stock is necessarily equal, as certain classes of stock may be issued for example without voting rights, with enhanced voting rights, or with a certain priority to receive profits or liquidation proceeds before or after other classes of shareholders.

Green Bay Packers, Inc. is the official name of the publicly held nonprofit corporation that owns the Green Bay Packers football franchise of the National Football League (NFL).


  1. "Common Stock". ValueClick. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  2. "Characteristics of common stock".