DEFINITION of 'American Shares'
A term used outside of the United States to describe the stock of publicly held companies that are based in the United States. Investing in American shares can be especially appealing to residents of small countries who seek broader market exposure than they could achieve by investing only in the stocks of locally based countries. Also, listing on an American exchange gives a company more exposure. The NYSE and Nasdaq represent a large percentage of total world stock market capitalization, even compared to the major exchanges of Tokyo, London, Paris, Germany and Australia.
BREAKING DOWN 'American Shares'
U.S. residents who wish to invest in foreign securities can purchase shares of mutual funds or exchange-traded funds that are country-specific or that have international exposure. They can also purchase shares of specific foreign companies via American depositary receipts. All of these vehicles simplify the process of investing overseas, a process that can be complicated because of differences in regulations and tax laws, and fluctuations in currency values.