Restricted and float

By Investopedia Staff via investopedia.com   Article

The Basics Of Outstanding Shares And The Float

Restricted and Float
When you look a little closer at the quotes for a company, you may see some obscure terms that you’ve never encountered. For instance, restricted shares refer to a company’s issued stock that cannot be bought or sold without special permission by the SEC. Often, this type of stock is given to insiders as part of their salaries or as additional benefits. Another term you may encounter is “float.” This refers to a company’s shares that are freely bought and sold without restrictions by the public. Denoting the greatest proportion of stocks trading on the exchanges, the float consists of regular shares that many of us will hear or read about in the news.

Authorized Shares
Authorized shares refer to the largest number of shares that a single corporation can issue. The number of authorized shares per company is assessed at the company’s creation and can only be increased or decreased through shareholders’ vote. If at the time of incorporation the documents state that 100 shares are authorized, then only 100 shares can be issued.

But just because a company can issue a certain number of shares doesn’t mean it will issue all of them to the public. Typically companies will, for many reasons, keep a portion of the shares in their own treasury. For example, company XYZ may decide to maintain a controlling interest within the treasury just to ward off any hostile takeover bids. On the other hand, the company may have shares handy in case it wants to sell them for excess cash (rather than borrowing). This tendency of a company to reserve some of its authorized shares leads us to the next important and related term: outstanding shares.

Outstanding Shares
Not to be confused with authorized shares, outstanding shares refer to the number of stocks that a company actually has issued. This number represents all the shares that can be bought and sold by the public, as well as all the restricted shares that require special permission before being transacted. As we already explained, shares that can be freely bought and sold by public investors are called the float. This value changes depending on whether the company wishes to repurchase shares from the market or sell out more of its authorized shares from within its treasury.”

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