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What are 'Issued Shares'

Issued shares are the authorized shares sold to and held by the shareholders of a company, regardless of whether they are insiders, institutional investors or the general public, as shown in the company’s annual report. Issued shares include the stock a company sells publicly to generate capital and the stock given to insiders as part of their compensation packages. Unlike shares held as treasury stock, shares that have been retired are not included in this figure.

BREAKING DOWN 'Issued Shares'

A company issues a share only once; after that, the investor may sell it to another investor. When companies buy back their own shares, the shares remain listed as issued because the company may resell them. For a small, closely held corporation, the original owners may have all issued shares.

Recording Issued Shares

The number of issued shares is recorded on a company’s balance sheet as capital stock. Shares outstanding are listed on the company’s quarterly filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The number of outstanding shares is also found in the capital section of a company’s annual report.

Importance of Issued Shares

Issued shares are included when calculating market capitalization, or issued shares multiplied by current share price, and earnings per share (EPS), or issued shares divided by earnings. Both numbers help investors measure a company’s value and performance.

Comparing Authorized and Issued Shares

Authorized shares are the shares a company’s founders approved in their corporate filing paperwork before startup. Issued shares are the shares the owners decided to exchange for the cash, assets or other value given for founding the company. This is called capitalizing the corporation.

Issued Shares and Ownership

Ownership may be measured by which investors were issued shares at a company’s startup. Ownership may also be measured by issued and outstanding shares along with those that may become issued if all authorized stock options are exercised, called the fully diluted calculation. In addition, ownership may be measured by using issued and authorized stock as a forecast of the position shareholders may be in at a future date, called the working model calculation. All board members must use the same calculation when making decisions or plans for the business.

For example, if a startup issues 10 million shares of 20 million authorized shares to an owner, and the owner’s shares are the only ones issued, he owns 100% of the corporation. Boards typically use the fully diluted or working model calculation for planning and projecting. For example, if the board believes it may issue 2 million additional shares to an investor and offers 3 million shares as stock options to high-performing employees, it may offer the founders additional stock options so they do not significantly dilute their ownership percentage.

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