Ordinary Shares

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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".

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.

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