Issued vs Outstanding Shares: What investors need to know

This article will delve deeper into the difference between issued and outstanding shares and types of issued shares.

Understanding the distinction between issued and outstanding shares is critical for investors intending to purchase stock in a publicly listed corporation. These phrases refer to the total number of shares approved by a firm and the number of shares that are actually available for purchase by investors. Despite the fact that both kinds of shares indicate ownership in the corporation, their effects on shareholders and prospective investors are different. This article will delve deeper into the difference between issued and outstanding shares, types of issued shares, types of outstanding shares, and their implications for investors.

Understanding these key concepts will help investors make more informed decisions while investing in companies.

Issued shares and outstanding shares

In the world of investment, issued shares and outstanding shares are two crucial ideas. While outstanding shares are the shares that have already been issued to investors and are already held by shareholders, issued shares refer to the total number of shares that a corporation has authorized for issuance. The distinction between these two share classes may have an effect on a company’s financial situation and future growth prospects. Investors need to be aware of these principles to assess investment opportunities and make wise selections.

What are issued shares?

The total number of shares a firm has authorized to be issued to investors are the issued shares. These shares may be held as treasury shares or sold to investors. The market valuation, voting rights, and financial measures like earnings per share of a firm can all be impacted by the number of issued shares. Investors should be aware of this idea while assessing a company’s growth prospects and financial stability.

How do issued shares work?

A company’s capital structure includes issued shares, which are crucial for estimating the company’s value and worth. These shares signify ownership in the business and grant the shareholder specific rights, including the ability to vote and receive dividends. Even when the firm has authorized more shares than that have been issued, in a tiny, private corporation, the owners may hold all of the issued shares. The owners’ equity, or the proportion of the company they own, will be diminished if the company subsequently issues more shares.

Investors can estimate the worth of a company’s stock using a variety of criteria, including market capitalization and earnings per share. While calculating these calculations, it’s crucial to take into account the total number of shares that have already been issued as well as any possible dilution from upcoming share issuances. Issued shares, which are the real shares that have been allocated to shareholders, are crucial in establishing the worth of a firm and its ownership structure.

Types of issued shares

Issued shares represent the actual shares that a company has distributed to shareholders. There are various types of issued shares, each with its unique characteristics and advantages. Let us take a closer look at some of the most common types of issued shares.

Types of issued shares

  • Ordinary shares – The most fundamental type of ownership in a firm is represented by ordinary shares, commonly referred to as common shares. Ordinary shareholders are entitled to vote at shareholder meetings and to receive dividends as decided by the board of directors of the company. Normal ordinary shares have equal voting rights, but some businesses might issue various classes of ordinary shares with varied voting rights.
  • Preference shares – The term “preference shares” refers to securities that offer holders priority dividends and other payout treatment. In addition to having the right to dividends before common shareholders, preference shareholders may also be given preference in the case of a company’s liquidation. Preference shares often do not have voting rights, therefore owners have little sway over the direction the firm takes.
  • Redeemable shares – Shares that are redeemable allow the corporation to repurchase them at a later time or at the shareholder’s request. As they provide the company more control over how its capital structure is managed and give the shareholder the option to sell their shares back to the company if necessary, redeemable shares may be advantageous for both the company and the shareholder.
  • Non-voting shares – As the name implies, shares with no voting rights are known as non-voting shares. Instead, they offer their owners financial advantages including dividend payments and the chance for capital growth. To raise money without reducing the voting power of current shareholders or to provide staff equity ownership without giving them influence over the business, non-voting shares may be issued.
  • Management shares – Management shares, sometimes referred to as founder shares or Class B shares, are a type of share that gives the management team or company’s founders more power over the business. Ordinary shares often have fewer voting rights per share than management shares, giving holders of management shares less control over corporate decisions. These shares could also include extra benefits like the ability to choose directors or bigger dividend payments.

Pros and cons of issues shares

A company’s capital structure must include issued shares because they are a key factor in defining a company’s worth, ownership structure, and investor rights. Yet, just like any financial instrument, issued shares have advantages and disadvantages that buyers should weigh before making a purchase.


  • Access to Capital – The sale of shares is a great way for businesses to raise money to support ongoing operations or future expansion ambitions. For startups and small enterprises who might find it difficult to acquire other forms of capital, this is especially advantageous.
  • Limited Responsibility – Shareholders have limited responsibility, which means that their personal culpability for the debts and legal obligations of the firm is limited to the amount they have invested.
  • Ownership – By purchasing shares, investors gain a stake in the company that entitles them to vote on crucial decisions like the election of the board of directors and critical business deals.
  • Dividends – Dividends, or the distribution of a portion of the company’s profits to shareholders, are another source of income that shareholders may receive from their issued shares.


  • Dilution – Diluting the ownership interest of current shareholders is one of the main disadvantages of issuing shares. As a corporation issues new shares, the ownership percentage of current shareholders decreases.
  • Loss of Control – As a firm issue more shares, ownership is distributed among more shareholders, which may cause the company’s founders or significant investors to lose control.
  • Market Response – When a firm issues additional shares, it may occasionally indicate to investors that the company needs money, which could result in a decline in the stock price.
  • Dividend reductions – Although dividends can be a source of income for investors, they can also be reduced or stopped altogether by firms due to monetary issues or other reasons.

What should investors consider about issued shares?

When analyzing a company’s issued shares, investors should take a variety of aspects into account, such as the number of shares in circulation, the percentage of those shares held by insiders, the dividend yield, and the possibility of dilution. Investors should carefully analyze the issued shares of a firm when assessing its financial standing and growth prospects. The number of shares issued can significantly affect the company’s valuation, its potential for future earnings, and its capacity to obtain further capital through additional stock offerings.

Investors should also be aware of the kind of shares being offered because different classes of shares may have varied dividend distributions and voting rights. Furthermore, information about the past issuance of new shares by the company and any outstanding warrants or options might shed light on the likelihood of future dilution of shareholder value. Investors can decide whether to invest in a firm and how much they should be willing to pay for its shares by considering these factors.

What are outstanding shares?

The total amount of shares of a company’s stock that have been issued and are currently held by investors are referred to as outstanding shares. These shares signify ownership in the business, give shareholders a say in corporate decisions, and entitle them to dividend payments made from the company’s earnings.

How do outstanding shares work?

An important component of a company’s capital structure is its outstanding share count. These shares are an indicator of the total number of shares that a firm has issued and that are owned by shareholders, including insiders, institutional investors, and retail investors. The price of the stock of the company is set by the price of these shares, which are traded on the open market.

As the corporation issues additional shares or undertakes a share repurchase program, the number of outstanding shares may fluctuate over time. The number of outstanding shares rises as a corporation issues more shares, reducing the ownership proportion of current shareholders. Conversely, share repurchases increase the ownership proportion of current shareholders by lowering the number of outstanding shares.

Types of outstanding shares

In the world of finance and investments, outstanding shares are a critical indicator that investors use to assess the value of a company’s stock and the ownership stake that each shareholder possesses. Two types of outstanding shares that investors should be aware of are basic shares and diluted shares.

Types of outstanding shares

  • Basic Shares – The term “basic shares” refers to all of the shares of a corporation that are currently in circulation and held by investors. This figure does not account for any potential stock dilution that might happen if the company issues more shares in the future.
  • Diluted Shares – If all potential sources of dilution were used, a corporation would have a total of all outstanding shares or diluted shares. This comprises securities that can be converted into common shares, such as stock options, warrants, convertible bonds, and others. As they account for any potential future dilution of the stock, diluted shares provide investors with a more realistic representation of the true ownership proportion of a company.

Outstanding share formula

The formula for calculating outstanding shares is:

Outstanding Shares = Issued Shares - Treasury Shares


  • Issued Shares are shares that have been issued, including both regular and preferential shares.
  • Treasury Shares are the number of shares that a firm has repurchased and is now keeping in its treasury.

We determine the total number of outstanding shares that are currently held by investors by deducting the number of treasury shares from the total number of issued shares.

Why do outstanding shares keep changing?

For a variety of reasons, including stock issuances, stock repurchases, and stock splits, the number of outstanding shares may change. Businesses may issue new shares as a means of capital raising or as a means of paying staff. Similarly, businesses might buy back their own stock to cut down on the number of outstanding shares or to provide shareholders with a profit. Also, by dividing each current share into numerous shares, stock splits can increase the number of outstanding shares. Investors should be aware of changes in the number of outstanding shares since they can have an effect on a company’s stock price, earnings per share, and ownership structure.

What should investors consider about outstanding shares?

When assessing a company’s stock, investors should take a number of aspects connected to outstanding shares into account. The company’s financial indicators, such as earnings per share and ownership percentage, can be impacted by the number of shares that are outstanding overall and any changes to that number. Investors should also consider any outstanding convertible instruments or stock options, as well as the makeup of outstanding shares, particularly the ratio of common to preferred stock. The company’s past dividend payments and stock buybacks should also be considered because they may affect the number of outstanding shares and total shareholder value. In general, knowing a company’s outstanding shares can assist investors to make wise choices regarding the worth and prospective future of the company’s growth.

Difference between issued shares and outstanding shares

Issued shares and outstanding shares are two terms that are often used in the context of stocks and equity. While they are related, there are some key differences between the two:

 Issued SharesOutstanding Shares
DefinitionThese are the total number of shares that a company has authorized and distributed to shareholders, including both common and preferred shares.These are the total number of shares that a company has issued and are currently held by investors.
Key DifferenceContain all shares that the corporation has approved and distributed
Might also include shares that the firm itself holds in its treasury.
Only include shares that are currently held by investors.
ReportingReported on a company’s balance sheet as part of its equity.Reported separately on financial statements like the income statement and the statement of cash flows.
Financial performanceAssessing a company's authorized capital and potential dilution of shareholder value requires consideration of the issued shares.Financial statistics are used to assess a company's financial performance, such as the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio and earnings per share (EPS), depending on the number of outstanding shares.
VotingDifferent voting rights or restrictions, such as those connected with preferred shares, may apply to issued shares.In corporate decisions like the selection of the board of directors or significant corporate acts, each outstanding share entitles the holder to one vote.
QuantityGiven that some shares may be held in the company’s treasure or retired, the number of issued shares may be more than the number of outstanding shares.

The number of issued shares includes all approved shares, including those that might not yet be in circulation.
Outstanding shares are generally less than issued shares.

The number of outstanding shares reflects the actual ownership of the company by investors.

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