Ordinary Shares


DEFINITION of 'Ordinary Shares'

Any shares that are not preferred shares and do not have any predetermined dividend amounts. An ordinary share represents equity ownership in a company and entitles the owner to a vote in matters put before shareholders in proportion to their percentage ownership in the company.

Ordinary shareholders are entitled to receive dividends if any are available after dividends on preferred shares are paid. They are also entitled to their share of the residual economic value of the company should the business unwind; however, they are last in line after bondholders and preferred shareholders for receiving business proceeds. As such, ordinary shareholders are considered unsecured creditors.

Also known as "common stock".


Loading the player...

BREAKING DOWN 'Ordinary Shares'

Ordinary shares include those traded privately as well as shares that trade on the various public stock exchanges. Ordinary shares have a stated "par value", but this value is more of a technicality, and will rarely be more than a few pennies per share. The true value of an ordinary share is based on the price obtained through market forces, the value of the underlying business and investor sentiment toward the company.

  1. Preferred Stock

    A class of ownership in a corporation that has a higher claim ...
  2. Dividend

    A distribution of a portion of a company's earnings, decided ...
  3. Contingent Shares

    Shares of company stock that are issued only if certain conditions ...
  4. Common Stock

    A security that represents ownership in a corporation. Holders ...
  5. Marketable Security

    Any equity or debt instrument that it readily salable and can ...
  6. Golden Share

    A type of share that gives its shareholder veto power over changes ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    What are Ordinary Shares?

    Ordinary shares are any type of shares that are not preferred and don’t pay any type of predetermined dividend amount.
  2. Investing Basics

    Stock Basics Tutorial

    If you're new to the stock market and want the basics, this is the tutorial for you!
  3. Investing Basics

    Knowing Your Rights As A Shareholder

    We delve into common stock owners' privileges and how to be vigilant in monitoring a company.
  4. Investing

    The ABCs of Bond ETF Distributions

    How do bond exchange traded fund (ETF) distributions work? It’s a question I get a lot. First, let’s explain what we mean by distributions.
  5. Stock Analysis

    3 Stocks that Are Top Bets for Retirement

    These three stocks are resilient, fundamentally sound and also pay generous dividends.
  6. Investing News

    Are Stocks Cheap Now? Nope. And Here's Why

    Are stocks cheap right now? Be wary of those who are telling you what you want to hear. Here's why.
  7. Investing News

    4 Value Stocks Worth Your Immediate Attention

    Here are four stocks that offer good value and will likely outperform the majority of stocks throughout the broader market over the next several years.
  8. Investing News

    These 3 High-Quality Stocks Are Dividend Royalty

    Here are three resilient, dividend-paying companies that may mitigate some worry in an uncertain investing environment.
  9. Stock Analysis

    An Auto Stock Alternative to Ford and GM

    If you're not sure where Ford and General Motors are going, you might want to look at this auto investment option instead.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The 4 Best Buy-and-Hold ETFs

    Explore detailed analyses of the top buy-and-hold exchange traded funds, and learn about their characteristics, statistics and suitability.
  1. How many votes am I entitled to, if I own ordinary shares of a company?

    If an investor owns one ordinary share of a company, that investor is entitled to one vote on all of that company's major ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do dividends affect retained earnings?

    When a company issues a cash dividend to its shareholders, the retained earnings listed on the balance sheet are reduced ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How does additional paid in capital affect retained earnings?

    Both additional paid-in capital and retained earnings are entries under the shareholders' equity section of a company's balance ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Real Estate Investment Trust - REIT

    A REIT is a type of security that invests in real estate through property or mortgages and often trades on major exchanges ...
  2. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  3. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  4. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  5. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  6. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!