Types of Stock – Common Stock – Preferred Stock

What is the difference between Common Stock and Preferred Stock?

Not all stocks are created equally.  There are actually two main stock types, find out the differences below.

Common Stock

Common stock is the most commonly available type of stock.  This is what you would typically purchase when buying through brokers.  It represents a stake in the company.  If there are 10 million shares available for a company on the market.  If you purchased 1 million of them this would essentially give you a 10% stake in the business.

Along with purchasing common stock, you will get other benefits such as voting rights and the rights to receive any paid dividends.  The voting rights will give you a voting in the election of the board of directors and corporate policy.

One of the negatives of owning common stocks in comparison to being an owner of corporate bonds, a debt holder or owning preferred stock is that you are further down in the pecking order to receive your investment back should the company go into liquidation.

The biggest benefits of being a common stock holder is that you will benefit the most from the growth in share price.  Being normally floated on the major indices, common stocks are usually liquid, meaning that there are usually buyers and sellers at hand to ensure the stock is priced fairly.

Preferred Stock

Preferred stock is the type of stock that has more benefits in terms of claims on the underlying assets of the business in comparison with common stock.  It is important to read the small print when buying preferred stock as the exact rights of preferred stocks vary from company to company.

In general the structure of the agreement will exclude voting rights and include a higher priority on dividend payments versus common stock holders.

One drawback apart from the lack of voting rights, is that the preferred stock may not be available on the open market, meaning that it may not appreciate as much common stock and might not have the required amount of liquidity if you wish to sell.

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