Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stockmarket Education: What is a Share?

This little piece originated from a search that found its way to this blog; "What is a share?"

I sort of take this for granted and cant really remember asking this question because I think I already knew what a share was and perhaps that the word was self explanatory of its meaning.

It isn't dumb question though.

Lets see it we can give this question a reasonably intelligent answer because it is important that beginners in the stockmarket know and those that think we know(like yours truly)might find out something we don't.

This is how I would describe a share to a beginner.

Basically when you buy a shares (or stock, security, equity) in a company, in our example a listed company on a stock exchange, your shares get you ownership of a small part of that company and some of the attendant rights of an owner of that company.

Some of these are:

1. A share of profits -through provision of dividends distributed to shareholders.

2. Voting rights on remuneration for management and fees for directors.

3. Votes on selected business associated with areas of the company.

There are also responsibilities.

Some of these are:

1. The company may ask shareholders for additional capital from time to time to help run the business.

2. Keep an eye on the health of the company by reading company reports and third party research written.

The shares in the company that you have part-ownership in have a monetary value and that value can differ from day to day, week to week and year to year and you can add to your ownership or dispense with that ownership at any time but at different values depending on the time you sell-just like any business you might have full ownership over.

Shares are bought and sold using a stockbroker or sharebroker or through issues of company capital through IPOs and various other ways.

What you have if you own shares in a company then are certain rights and responsibilities, much like those that the sole owner of a business but as a part shareholder some of the rights that a majority owner has over the running of a business do not apply to you.

1. You do not have a say in the day to day running of the business.

2. Your vote in any proposition put to shareholders can be voted down if the majority don't fall your way

3. Your shareholding can be sold against your will if there is a takeover or merger that the majority of shareholders vote for, even if you vote not to sell.

Some people don't look at a share as owning a part of a business, just some sort of esoteric measurement of how much a company might be worth on a day to day basis but I and many others do, for that is exactly what a share is.

You are part owner of a business and your shares make you a business owner.

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Stock Investing For Dummies
Stock Investing For Dummies by Paul Mladjenovic
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c Share Investor 2009

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