What are shares outstanding? Investing Definitions

An important aspect of EPS that is often ignored is the capital that is required to generate the earnings (net income) in the calculation. A metric that can be used to identify more efficient companies is the return on equity (ROE). No, a company is limited to issuing only the quantity of shares it is authorized to issue. Breach of this limit breaks compliance with securities laws, and regulatory agencies will often consider the excessive issuance of improperly authorized shares as void. Companies may also intentionally hold back authorized shares as a defensive maneuver. By retaining authorized shares, the company can maintain a controlling interest.

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  • The term “float” refers to the number of shares available to be traded by the public and excludes any shares held by company executives or the company’s treasury.
  • Floating stock is calculated by taking outstanding shares and subtracting restricted shares.
  • This section provides the sum of the total authorized shares, the total number of shares outstanding, and the total floating shares.
  • Treasury shares plus outstanding shares together form the total number of issued shares.
  • The number of shares of common stock outstanding is shown in the stockholders’ equity section of the balance sheet.

If that figure is taken and used to calculate EPS, then the EPS would be much higher and it would eventually amount to polishing the financial figures. Moreover, common shareholders can participate in important corporate decisions through voting. They can participate in the election of the board of directors and vote on different corporate matters such as corporate objectives, policies, and stock splits. This measurement figures into the earnings portion of the price-earnings (P/E) valuation ratio. The P/E ratio is one of the most common ratios utilized by investors to determine whether a company’s stock price is valued properly relative to its earnings. Earnings per share (EPS) is calculated by determining a company’s net income and allocating that to each outstanding share of common stock.

A Variable in the Price/Earning Ratio

A higher EPS means a company is profitable enough to pay out more money to its shareholders. For example, a company might increase its dividend as earnings increase over time. Making a comparison of the P/E ratio within an industry group can be helpful, though in unexpected ways.

Reserved shares can also be issued via stock warrants to a third party. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. The company can increase or decrease the number of shares outstanding by issuing new shares or via share repurchases (buybacks).

  • While outstanding shares of stock are those that can be purchased or sold on the secondary market, treasury shares are those that are held by the company and are not available in the open market.
  • Overall, the number of shares outstanding, the metrics you can calculate from it, and related metrics — like the float — provide key insights to investors.
  • Total outstanding shares decrease if there is a reverse stock split or when a company buys back outstanding shares of its own stock.
  • In addition to listing outstanding shares or capital stock on the company’s balance sheet, publicly traded companies are obligated to report the number of issued along with their outstanding shares.

It is also a major component of calculating the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, where the E in P/E refers to EPS. By dividing a company’s share price by its earnings per share, an investor can see the value of a stock in terms of how much the market is willing to pay for each dollar of earnings. The outstanding shares figure is useful to know for an investor that is contemplating buying shares in a company. Dividing the number of shares to be purchased by the number of shares outstanding reveals the percentage of ownership that the investor will have in the business after the shares have been purchased.

Related stock market topics

The larger stock market is made up of multiple sectors you may want to invest in. If you’re interested in learning about common stock, you may also in learning about the best broker available for your needs, so visit our broker center to discover the possibilities. The forward EPS is calculated using projections for some period of time in the future (usually the coming four quarters). Investors typically compare the EPS of two or more companies within the same industry to get a sense of how one company is performing relative to its peers.


When this takes place, a company’s outstanding shares increase, and a higher degree of liquidity results. By contrast, a reverse stock split occurs when a company seeks to elevate its share price. Often, a company does this to meet listing requirements, which often require a minimum share price. A company’s outstanding shares decrease when there is a reverse stock split.

Shares Outstanding vs. Floating Shares

It also offered 3,000 shares to each of the two managing directors and has 5,600 treasury shares. Floating shares serve as a good representation of the company’s active shares or share turnover among various investors in the market, excluding parties holding substantial portions of equity. Two different ways to analyze a company through its shares outstanding are earnings per share (EPS) and cash flow per share (CFPS).

The number of outstanding or issued shares is always equal to or less than the total number of authorized shares. Companies often intentionally keep these two figures different so the organization has future flexibility to sell more shares in the future should it have financing needs. The number of shares actually available to trade is known as the float. There are also restricted shares, which are part of a company’s authorized shares. The total number of a company’s outstanding shares as seen in the balance sheet is the sum of float and restricted shares.

What Is the Difference Between Basic EPS and Diluted EPS?

On the other hand, while calculating the dilutive EPS, the denominator includes all possible conversions that can take place and increase the number of shares held by parties. Diluted EPS is always less than the basic EPS, as the denominator in the latter is higher. Companies with options, convertible employee furlough bonds, etc., disclose both basic as well as diluted EPS in their financial disclosures. Common stock is a type of security that represents ownership of equity in a company. There are other terms – such as common share, ordinary share, or voting share – that are equivalent to common stock.

A stock split occurs when a company increases its shares outstanding without changing its market cap or value. It’s worth noting that a company’s basic number of shares outstanding can differ from its fully diluted number of shares. The fully diluted number of shares indicates how many outstanding shares there could potentially be if all existing equity instruments were converted into common stock. Dividend distributions and voting in the general meeting of shareholders are calculated according to this number. The fully diluted shares outstanding count, on the other hand, includes diluting securities, such as warrants, capital notes or convertibles.

Shares outstanding include shares owned by retail and institutional investors and restricted shares held by company officials and employees. Changes in the composition of the holdings do not change the number of total shares outstanding. New share issues, the exercise of stock options, conversion, and cancellations through buybacks will change the figure. In addition to listing outstanding shares or capital stock on the company’s balance sheet, publicly traded companies are obligated to report the number of issued along with their outstanding shares. These figures are generally packaged within the investor relations sections of their websites, or on local stock exchange websites.

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