Share (finance)

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A share certificate from 1936 entitling the holder to shares in Greyhound Lines Greyhound stock certificate.jpg
A share certificate from 1936 entitling the holder to shares in Greyhound Lines

In financial markets, a share (sometimes referred to as stock or equity) is a unit of equity ownership in the capital stock of a corporation, and can refer to units of mutual funds, limited partnerships, and real estate investment trusts. [1] Share capital refers to all of the shares of an enterprise. The owner of shares in a company is a shareholder (or stockholder) of the corporation. [2] A share is an indivisible unit of capital, expressing the ownership relationship between the company and the shareholder. The denominated value of a share is its face value, and the total of the face value of issued shares represent the capital of a company, [3] which may not reflect the market value of those shares.


The income received from the ownership of shares is a dividend. There are different types of shares such as equity shares, preference shares, deferred shares, redeemable shares, bonus shares, right shares, and employee stock option plan shares.


Shares are valued according to the various principles in different markets, but a basic premise is that a share is worth the price at which a transaction would be likely to occur were the shares to be sold. The liquidity of markets is a major consideration as to whether a share is able to be sold at any given time. An actual sale transaction of shares between buyer and seller is usually considered to provide the best prima facie market indicator as to the "true value" of shares at that particular time. A minority discount is usually applied when valuing a minority shareholding (less than 50%), where ownership of the shares offers limited control over the business if this is held by a majority shareholder.


Tax treatment

Tax treatment of dividends varies between tax jurisdictions. For instance, in India, dividends are tax free in the hands of the shareholder up to INR 1 million, but the company paying the dividend has to pay dividend distribution tax at 12.5%. There is also the concept of a deemed dividend, which is not tax free. Further, Indian tax laws include provisions to stop dividend stripping. [4] [ citation needed ]

Share certificates

Historically, investors were given share certificates as evidence of their ownership of shares. In modern times, certificates are not always given and ownership may be recorded electronically by a system such as CREST or DTCC, a central securities depository.

Tracing shares

As of May 2022, the United States Supreme Court was considering the case of Slack Technologies, LLC v. Pirani, with regard to whether Sections 11 and 12(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 require plaintiffs to plead and prove that they acquired shares of stock registered under and traceable to the registration statement they claim was misleading. [5] [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dividend</span> Payment made by a corporation to its shareholders, usually as a distribution of profits

A dividend is a distribution of profits by a corporation to its shareholders. When a corporation earns a profit or surplus, it is able to pay a portion of the profit as a dividend to shareholders. Any amount not distributed is taken to be re-invested in the business. The current year profit as well as the retained earnings of previous years are available for distribution; a corporation is usually prohibited from paying a dividend out of its capital. 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 by share repurchase. In some cases, the distribution may be of assets.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Security (finance)</span> 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 countries and languages people commonly use the term "security" to refer to any form of financial instrument, even though the underlying legal and regulatory regime may not have such a broad definition. 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Equity (finance)</span> Ownership of property reduced by its liabilities

In finance, equity is an ownership interest in property that may be offset by debts or other liabilities. Equity is measured for accounting purposes by subtracting liabilities from the value of the assets owned. For example, if someone owns a car worth $24,000 and owes $10,000 on the loan used to buy the car, the difference of $14,000 is equity. Equity can apply to a single asset, such as a car or house, or to an entire business. A business that needs to start up or expand its operations can sell its equity in order to raise cash that does not have to be repaid on a set schedule.

A mutual fund is an investment fund that pools money from many investors to purchase securities. The term is typically used in the United States, Canada, and India, while similar structures across the globe include the SICAV in Europe, and the open-ended investment company (OEIC) in the UK.

In accounting, book value is the value of an asset according to its balance sheet account balance. For assets, the value is based on the original cost of the asset less any depreciation, amortization or impairment costs made against the asset. Traditionally, a company's book value is its total assets minus intangible assets and liabilities. However, in practice, depending on the source of the calculation, book value may variably include goodwill, intangible assets, or both. The value inherent in its workforce, part of the intellectual capital of a company, is always ignored. When intangible assets and goodwill are explicitly excluded, the metric is often specified to be tangible book value.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Corporate action</span> Event initiated by a public company

A corporate action is an event initiated by a public company that brings or could 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. For some events, shareholders or bondholders are permitted to vote on the event. Examples of corporate actions include stock splits, dividends, mergers and acquisitions, rights issues, and spin-offs.

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.

Preferred stock is a component of share capital that 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.

Common stock is a form of corporate equity ownership, a type of security. The terms voting share and ordinary share are also used frequently outside of 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.

An investment trust is a form of investment fund found mostly in the United Kingdom and Japan. Investment trusts are constituted as public limited companies and are therefore closed ended since the fund managers cannot redeem or create shares.

CREST is a UK-based central securities depository that holds UK equities and UK gilts, as well as Irish equities and other international securities.

The ex-dividend date is an investment term involving the timing of payment of dividends on stocks of corporations, income trusts, and other financial holdings, both publicly and privately held. The ex-date or ex-dividend date represents the date on or after which a security is traded without a previously declared dividend or distribution. The opening price on the ex-dividend date, in comparison to the previous closing price, can be expected to decrease by the amount of the dividend, although this change may be obscured by other influences on the stock's value.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Securities market</span> Component of the wider financial market

Security market is a component of the wider financial market where securities can be bought and sold between subjects of the economy, on the basis of demand and supply. Security markets encompasses stock markets, bond markets and derivatives markets where prices can be determined and participants both professional and non professional can meet.

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 can be 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hybrid security</span>

Hybrid securities are a broad group of securities that combine the characteristics of the two broader groups of securities, debt and equity.

Share repurchase, also known as share buyback or stock buyback, is the reacquisition by a company of its own shares. It represents an alternate and more flexible way of returning money to shareholders. When used in coordination with increased corporate leverage, buybacks can increase share prices.

Bonus shares are shares distributed by a company to its current shareholders as fully paid shares free of charge.

In finance, a Class B share or Class C share is a designation for a share class of a common or preferred stock that typically has strengthened voting rights or other benefits compared to a Class A share that may have been created. The equity structure, or how many types of shares are offered, is determined by the corporate charter.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stock</span> Shares into which ownership of the corporation is divided

Stocks consist of all the shares by which ownership of a corporation or company is divided. A single share of the stock means fractional ownership of the corporation in proportion to the total number of shares. This typically entitles the shareholder (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.

In finance, the capital structure substitution theory (CSS) describes the relationship between earnings, stock price and capital structure of public companies. The CSS theory hypothesizes that managements of public companies manipulate capital structure such that earnings per share (EPS) are maximized. Managements have an incentive to do so because shareholders and analysts value EPS growth. The theory is used to explain trends in capital structure, stock market valuation, dividend policy, the monetary transmission mechanism, and stock volatility, and provides an alternative to the Modigliani–Miller theorem that has limited descriptive validity in real markets. The CSS theory is only applicable in markets where share repurchases are allowed. Investors can use the CSS theory to identify undervalued stocks.


  1. Kvilhaug, Suzanne (20 October 2021). Scott, Gordon (ed.). "What Are Shares? Meaning and How They Compare to Stocks". Investopedia . Retrieved 19 November 2022.
  2. Hoang, Paul (2007). "1.4 Stakeholders". Business and Management. Victoria: IBID Press. pp.  71. ISBN   978-1-876659-63-9.
  3. "Chapter 22 Company-An Introduction" (PDF). Accountancy. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India: National Institute of Open Schooling. 2008. p. 242. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  4. "All about shares and tax". Rediff India Abroad. 16 January 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  5. Eichenberger, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP-Sarah; Zelichov, Richard H. (15 December 2022). "Supreme Court to Weigh in on Securities Act of 1933 Standing in Slack Technologies Direct Listing Appeal". Lexology.