Shares outstanding are all the shares of a corporation or financial asset that have been authorized, issued and purchased by investors and are held by them. They have rights and represent ownership in the corporation by the person who holds the shares. They are distinguished from treasury shares, which are shares held by the corporation itself and have no exercisable rights. Shares outstanding plus treasury shares together amount to the number of issued shares.
Shares outstanding can be calculated as either basic or fully diluted. The basic count is the current number of shares. Dividend distributions and voting in the general meeting of shareholders are calculated according to this number. The fully diluted shares outstanding count, on the other hand, includes diluting securities, such as warrants, capital notes or convertibles. If the company has any diluting securities, this indicates the potential future increased number of shares outstanding.
The number of outstanding shares may change due to changes in the number of issued shares as well as the change in treasury shares. Both can occur at any time of the year. There are several useful public sources to find the number of shares outstanding of a given corporation.
The financial reporting obligation of the public traded company also ensures the publication of issued and outstanding shares. The reports are usually available in the investor relations section of the company's website. Web directories are supporting direct access to company websites. Public traded companies bundles the reports normally in the investor relations section, e.g. Deutsche Bank AG, Eni S.p.a.,Anheuser Busch InBev SA, EDP - Energias do Brasil SA or Accor SA.
In many countries, there is an information service authorized or provided by the local financial authority which gives access to companies' financial reporting. In the United States, the number of shares outstanding may be obtained from quarterly filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Quarterly filings are accessible using the US EDGAR. In Germany, those figures are available using the German company register, the central platform for storage of company data. In the Netherlands, the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) provides on its website a register of issued capital. In Italy, the Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB) provides on its website a register of issuers with latest total shares.
Since outstanding shares are an essential detail of public traded companies the number can be found on the local stock exchange websites. Beyond stock charts and listed prices, they in almost always also provide the companies' number of outstanding shares. Examples include the Brazilian BM&FBOVESPA, the Swiss SIX, the Borsa Italiana and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (where shares outstanding are termed "Capital Listed for Trading").
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