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Both large institutional investors like pension funds and insurance companies, as well as smaller investors saving for retirement have a number of different investment options. Some of the primary options include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and exchange traded funds. In this video we're going to focus on the characteristics of two types of stock, common stock and preferred stock.
Stock is a type of investment security that signifies partial ownership of a corporation and a claim on on that corporation's assets as well as earnings.
Stock is a form of equity financing, which allows a corporation access to potentially large amounts of money during initial as well as secondary public offerings. The corporation first must determine how much money it wants to raise. Then the corporation, with the help of an investment bank, will establish what percentage of ownership it must give up to obtain the investment that it is seeking. This chunk of ownership is then sliced up into individuals shares and sold for a price set by the corporation and its investment bank, each share of course representing fractional ownership in the corporation. In exchange for the investors hard earn money, the corporation provides ownership rights and a claim on the corporation's assets and earnings. Investors acquire shares with the hope that the stock increases in value. Investors can then sell their shares for more than they acquired them, which would earn them more money. Investors may also receive a dividend, which is a quarterly payment made to stockholders as a way of rewarded them for their investment.
Although both common and preferred stock provide ownership rights and a claim on assets and earnings, they differ in several areas.
Common stock gives the owner with the opportunity to vote in board member elections and other issues outlined in the corporate bylaws. This allows investors the opportunity to elect a board member who they feel will best represent their own interests. Common stock also provides a right to dividends. Now this right is not the same as a guarantee, so a corporation is under no obligation to pay a dividend. However, if a corporation authorizes a dividend then shareholders have a right to that dividend assuming they own it by the dividend cut-off date. In addition to a right to dividends, common stockholders also receive a right to capital gains.This right is not a guarantee and stockholders may even lose their investment, which makes the stock a riskier investment. Some corporation's may be even provide certain shareholders with pre-emptive rights, which grant shareholders the opportunity to purchase additional shares if the corporation decides to sell shares to the public. This prevents current shareholders ownership from being diluted, since they would have the same number of shares but more shares would be outstanding after the secondary offering. Typically pre-emptive rights are only granted to large shareholders who have invested a significant amount of money in a corporation.
Preferred stock is a type of security that grants the holder preference over common stockholders in certain areas. Although both securities provide owners with a claim on assets and earnings, the claim of preferred stockholders is given priority to that of common stockholders.In addition to a preceding claim on assets, preferred stockholders are also given preference with dividend payments. Like common stockholders, preferred stockholders are not guaranteed a dividend, but must be paid a dividend in the event that the corporation grants a dividend to common stockholders. Also, a dividend to preferred stockholders tends to be a fixed amount while a dividend for common stockholders may fluctuate.
Because preferred stockholders are given preference over common stockholders in these areas, the price of acquiring a share of preferred stock is more expensive. Also, preferred stockholders do not receive voting rights, meaning they cannot vote in board member elections or other matters as outlined in the corporate bylaws. Lastly, opportunities to purchase preferred stock are also more difficult to come by.