What Is a Share?

What Is a Share?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

In the simplest terms, a share refers to a single unit of ownership in a company or corporation. To put it more clearly, when you buy a share of a company, you are buying a piece of that company. You become a shareholder, literally holding a share in the company’s profits and assets. Your ownership stake in the company depends on the number of shares you hold relative to the total number of shares issued by the company. The more shares you own, the larger is your ownership stake in the company.

Related Questions

1. What is a Stock?

A stock is a general term used to describe the ownership certificates of any company. In essence, it represents a claim on part of the company’s assets and earnings. In other words, a stock is a type of security that signifies proportionate ownership in the issuing corporation.

2. What is a dividend?

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A dividend is a distribution of a portion of a company’s earnings, decided by the board of directors, to a class of its shareholders. Dividends are often issued as cash payments, as shares of stock, or other property.

3. How can I buy shares?

Shares can be bought through brokerage firms. You’ll need to open a brokerage account, deposit money into it, then utilize that money to buy the shares of the company you wish to invest in. Every brokerage has a different process, but most will guide you through the process step by-step.

4. What are preferred shares?

Preferred shares are a type of share that gives its holder a higher claim on the company’s assets and earnings than common shares. This means that if a company goes bankrupt, preferred shareholders are paid out before common shareholders. These shares usually have a fixed dividend, but holders don’t have voting rights in the company.

5. What’s the difference between a shareholder and a stakeholder?

A shareholder is an individual or institution that legally owns one or more shares of stock in a public or private corporation, while stakeholders can be employees, clients, suppliers or anyone who has a vested interest and is impacted by the corporation’s actions and performance.