Stock dilution

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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. [1] 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 (including an initial public 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.

A shareholder is an individual or institution 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.

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:

Shares outstanding are all the shares of a corporation or financial asset that have been authorized, issued and purchased by investors and are held by them. They have rights and represent ownership in the corporation by the person who holds the shares. They are distinguished from treasury shares, which are shares held by the corporation itself and have no exercisable rights. Shares outstanding plus treasury shares together amount to the number of issued shares.


Control dilution

Control dilution describes the reduction in ownership percentage or loss of a controlling share of an investment's stock. Many venture capital contracts contain an anti-dilution provision in favor of the original investors, to protect their equity investments. One way to raise new equity without diluting voting control is to give warrants to all the existing shareholders equally. They can choose to put more money in the company, or else lose ownership percentage. When employee options threaten to dilute the ownership of a control group, the company can use cash to buy back the shares issued.

Venture capital start-up investment

Venture capital (VC) is a type of private equity, a form of financing that is provided by firms or funds to small, early-stage, emerging firms that are deemed to have high growth potential, or which have demonstrated high growth. Venture capital firms or funds invest in these early-stage companies in exchange for equity, or an ownership stake, in the companies they invest in. Venture capitalists take on the risk of financing risky start-ups in the hopes that some of the firms they support will become successful. Because startups face high uncertainty, VC investments do have high rates of failure. The start-ups are usually based on an innovative technology or business model and they are usually from the high technology industries, such as information technology (IT), clean technology or biotechnology.

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

The measurement of this percent dilution is made at a point in time. It will change as market values change and cannot be interpreted as a "measure of the impact of" dilutions.

  1. Presume that all convertible securities are convertible at the date.
  2. Add up the number of new shares that will be issued as a result.
  3. Add up the proceeds that would be received on these conversions and issues (The reduction of debt is a 'proceed').
  4. Divide the total proceeds by the current market price of the stock to determine the number of shares the proceeds can buyback.
  5. Subtract the number bought-back from the new shares originally issued
  6. Divide the net increase in shares by the starting # shares outstanding.

Earnings dilution

Earnings dilution describes the reduction in amount earned per share in an investment due to an increase in the total number of shares. The calculation of earnings dilutions derives from this same process as control dilution. The net increase in shares (steps 1-5) is determined at the beginning of the reporting period, and added to the beginning number of shares outstanding. The net income for the period is divided by this increased number of shares. Notice that the conversion rates are determined by market values at the beginning, not the period end. The returns to be realized on the reinvestment of the proceeds are not part of this calculation.

Net income entitys income minus cost of goods sold, expenses and taxes for an accounting period

In business and accounting, net income is an entity's income minus cost of goods sold, expenses and taxes for an accounting period. It is computed as the residual of all revenues and gains over all expenses and losses for the period, and has also been defined as the net increase in shareholders' equity that results from a company's operations. In the context of the presentation of financial statements, the IFRS Foundation defines net income as synonymous with profit and loss. The difference between revenue and the cost of making a product or providing a service, before deducting overheads, payroll, taxation, and interest payments. This is different from operating income.

Value dilution

Value dilution describes the reduction in the current price of a stock due to the increase in the number of shares. This generally occurs when shares are issued in exchange for the purchase of a business, and incremental income from the new business must be at least the return on equity (ROE) of the old business. When the purchase price includes goodwill, this becomes a higher hurdle to clear.

In corporate finance, the return on equity (ROE) is a measure of the profitability of a business in relation to the equity, also known as net assets or assets minus liabilities. ROE is a measure of how well a company uses investments to generate earnings growth.

The theoretical diluted price, i.e. the price after an increase in the number of shares, can be calculated as:

Theoretical Diluted Price =


For example, if there is a 3-for-10 issue, the current price is $0.50, the issue price $0.32, we have

Owners' share of the underlying business

If the new shares are issued for proceeds at least equal to the pre-existing price of a share, then there is no negative dilution in the amount recoverable. The old owners just own a smaller piece of a bigger company. However, voting rights at stockholder meetings are decreased.

But, if new shares are issued for proceeds below or equal to the pre-existing price of a share, then stock holders have the opportunity to maintain their current voting power without losing net worth.

Market value of the business

Frequently the market value for shares will be higher than the book value. Investors will not receive full value unless the proceeds equal the market value. When this shortfall is triggered by the exercise of employee stock options, it is a measure of wage expense. When new shares are issued at full value, the excess of the market value over the book value is a kind of internalized capital gain for the investor. He is in the same position as if he sold the same % interest in the secondary market.

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".

Assuming that markets are efficient, the market price of a stock will reflect these evaluations, but with the increase in shareholder equity 'management' and prevalence of barter transactions involving equity, this assumption may be stretched.

Preferred share conversions are usually done on a dollar-for-dollar basis. $1,000 face value of preferreds will be exchanged for $1,000 worth of common shares (at market value). As the common shares increase in value, the preferreds will dilute them less (in terms of percent-ownership), and vice versa. In terms of value dilution, there will be none from the point of view of the shareholder. Since most shareholders are invested in the belief the stock price will increase, this is not a problem.

When the stock price declines because of some bad news, the company's next report will have to measure, not only the financial results of the bad news, but also the increase in the dilution percentage. This exacerbates the problem and increases the downward pressure on the stock, increasing dilution. Some financing vehicles are structured to augment this process by redefining the conversion factor as the stock price declines, thus leading to a "death spiral".

Death spiral financing is the result of a badly structured convertible financing used to fund primarily small cap companies in the marketplace, causing the company’s stock to fall dramatically, which can lead to the company’s ultimate downfall.

Impact of options and warrants dilution

Options and warrants are converted at pre-defined rates. As the stock price increases, their value increases dollar-for-dollar. If the stock is valued at a stable price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) it can be predicted that the options' rate of increase in value will be 20 times (when P/E=20) the rate of increase in earnings. The calculation of "what percentage share of future earnings increases goes to the holders of options instead of shareholders?" is [2] [ unreliable source? ]

(in-the-money options outstanding as % total) * (P/E ratio) = % future earnings accrue to option holders

For example, if the options outstanding equals 5% of the issued shares and the P/E=20, then 95% (= 5/105*20) of any increase in earnings goes, not to the shareholders, but to the options holders.

Share dilution scams

A share dilution scam happens when a company, typically traded in unregulated markets such as the OTC Bulletin Board and the Pink Sheets, repeatedly issues a massive number of shares into the market (using follow-on offerings) for no particular reason, considerably devaluing share prices until they become almost worthless, causing huge losses to shareholders.

Then, after share prices are at or near the minimum price a stock can trade and the share float has increased to an unsustainable level, those fraudulent companies tend to reverse split and continue repeating the same scheme.

Investor-backed private companies and startups

Stock dilution has special relevance to investor-backed private companies and startups. Significantly dilutive events occur much more frequently for private companies than they do for public companies. These events happen because private companies frequently issue large amounts of new stock every time they raise money from investors.

Private company investors often acquire large ownership stakes (20%-35%) and invest large sums of money as part of the venture capital process. To accommodate this, private companies must issue large amounts of stock to these investors. The issuance of stock to new investors creates significant dilution for founders and existing shareholders.

Company founders start with 100% ownership of their company but frequently have less than 35% ownership in the later-stages of their companies' life cycles (i.e., before a sale of the company or an IPO). [1] While founders and investors both understand this dilution, managing it and minimizing it can often be the difference between a successful outcome for founders and a failure. As such, dilutive terms are heavily negotiated in venture capital deals.

See also

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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.

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.

Convertible bond

In finance, a convertible bond or convertible note or convertible debt is a type of bond that the holder can convert into a specified number of shares of common stock in the issuing company or cash of equal value. It is a hybrid security with debt- and equity-like features. It originated in the mid-19th century, and was used by early speculators such as Jacob Little and Daniel Drew to counter market cornering.

A pre-money valuation is a term widely used in private equity or venture capital industries, referring to the valuation of a company or asset prior to an investment or financing. If an investment adds cash to a company, the company will have different valuations before and after the investment. The pre-money valuation refers to the company's valuation before the investment.

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.

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.

Common stock form of corporate equity ownership, a type of security

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.

Share (finance) single unit of ownership in a corporation, mutual fund, or any other organization

In financial markets, a share is a unit used as mutual funds, limited partnerships, and real estate investment trusts. The owner of shares in the corporation/company is a shareholder of the corporation. 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, which may not reflect the market value of those shares.

Post-money valuation is a way of expressing the value of a company after an investment has been made. This value is equal to the sum of the pre-money valuation and the amount of new equity.

Earnings per share EPS

Earnings per share (EPS) is the monetary value of earnings per outstanding share of common stock for a company.

A private investment in public equity, often called a PIPE deal, involves the selling of publicly traded common shares or some form of preferred stock or convertible security to private investors. It is an allocation of shares in a public company not through a public offering in a stock exchange. PIPE deals are part of the primary market. In the U.S., a PIPE offering may be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on a registration statement or may be completed as an unregistered private placement.

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(can be 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.

A follow-on offering is an issuance of stock subsequent to the company's initial public offering. A follow-on offering can be either of two types : dilutive and non-dilutive. A secondary offering is an offering of securities by a shareholder of the company. A follow on offering is preceded by release of prospectus similar to IPO: a Follow-on Public Offer (FPO).

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.

Accretion/dilution analysis is a type of M&A financial modelling performed in the pre-deal phase to evaluate the effect of the transaction on shareholder value and to check whether EPS for buying shareholders will increase or decrease post-deal. Generally, shareholders do not prefer dilutive transactions; however, if the deal may generate enough value to become accretive in a reasonable time, a proposed combination is justified.

A capitalization table is a table providing an analysis of a company's percentages of ownership, equity dilution, and value of equity in each round of investment by founders, investors, and other owners.


  1. 1 2 "Dilution 101: A Startup Guide to Equity Dilution with Real-World Statistics - Capshare Blog". Capshare Blog. 2016-10-18. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  2. "Retail Investor .org : Understanding changes to Owners' Equity - Investor Education".