Shares in Business and Finance: What They Mean

Understanding the meaning, definition, and explanation of shares in business and finance

What are Shares in Business and Finance?

Shares, in the context of business and finance, represent ownership in a corporation or financial asset. They provide a claim on part of the company’s assets and earnings. There are two main types of stock: common and preferred. Owning shares in a company gives the shareholder certain rights, such as the right to vote on matters of corporate policy and the right to share in distributions of the company’s income.

The Purpose of Shares

Shares are primarily used by corporations to raise capital. When a company needs to raise funds for various reasons such as expansion, paying off debt, or launching new products, it can issue shares to the public. This process is known as an Initial Public Offering (IPO). The funds raised from selling these shares are used by the company to achieve its financial goals.

How Shares Work

When a company decides to sell shares to the public, it determines the number of shares it wishes to issue and the price per share. Once the shares are purchased, the buyer becomes a shareholder of the company. The value of these shares can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including the company’s financial health, market conditions, and investor sentiment.

Understanding the Value of Shares

The value of a share is determined by the market and is the price at which a share can be bought or sold at a particular point in time. The total value of all outstanding shares, also known as the company’s market capitalization, is the total value of the company.

Dividends and Capital Gains

Shareholders can benefit from owning shares in two main ways: dividends and capital gains. Dividends are a portion of a company’s earnings that are paid out to shareholders. Capital gains, on the other hand, occur when a shareholder sells their shares for a higher price than they paid for them.

Types of Shares

As mentioned earlier, there are two main types of shares: common shares and preferred shares.

Common Shares

Common shares are the most common type of shares that individuals buy. Owners of common shares can vote at shareholders’ meetings and they receive dividends. However, they are last in line to receive any remaining assets if the company goes bankrupt.

Preferred Shares

Preferred shares, on the other hand, have a higher claim on the company’s earnings and assets. This means that preferred shareholders receive dividends before common shareholders, and have a higher claim on assets if the company goes bankrupt. However, preferred shareholders usually do not have voting rights.


Shares play a crucial role in the world of business and finance. They allow companies to raise capital and give individuals the opportunity to invest in these companies. Understanding the meaning and workings of shares is fundamental for anyone interested in investing or understanding the financial markets.


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