Board of Directors Terms & Definitions >
Preferred Stock

Preferred Stock


Preferred stock, often known as preference shares, is a type of stock that entitles its holders to preferential treatment over common shareholders. In the context of a corporate board of directors, preferred stock typically has certain rights and features that are not available to common stockholders. For instance, preferred stockholders may be entitled to receive a fixed dividend payment before dividends are paid to common stockholders. Additionally, in the event of a company's liquidation, preferred stockholders are generally entitled to receive payment before common stockholders. However, preferred stockholders typically do not have voting rights in the same way that common stockholders do. Overall, preferred stock is a financial instrument that provides investors with certain benefits but also limits their participation in the company's decision-making process.

Board of Directors Terms: Preferred Stock

As an investor, it's important to understand the different types of stock that a company might issue. One such type is preferred stock. In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of preferred stock, including its purpose, advantages, and risks. We'll also compare it to common stock and examine the role of the board of directors in issuing and managing preferred stock.

Understanding Preferred Stock

Preferred stock is a type of equity that gives investors a higher claim on a company's assets and earnings than common stockholders. Owning preferred stock means that you're entitled to a fixed dividend payment, which is typically higher than the dividend paid out to common stockholders. In addition, preferred stockholders have a priority claim over common stockholders in the event of bankruptcy.

However, it's important to note that preferred stockholders usually do not have voting rights in the company. This means that they cannot participate in the decision-making process of the company, unlike common stockholders who have the right to vote on important matters such as electing board members or approving mergers and acquisitions. Despite this, preferred stock can still be an attractive investment option for those who prioritize a steady stream of income over voting rights.

Differences between Preferred and Common Stock

One key difference between preferred stock and common stock is in the voting rights. Common stockholders usually have one vote per share, which gives them a say in the election of the board of directors and other important corporate decisions. Preferred stockholders, on the other hand, typically don't have any voting rights. Additionally, while common stock may offer the potential for higher returns, preferred stocks offer a fixed rate of return that is more predictable.

Another difference between preferred and common stock is in the order of payment during liquidation. In the event of bankruptcy or liquidation, preferred stockholders have a higher claim on assets and are paid before common stockholders. This means that preferred stockholders are more likely to receive their investment back in full, while common stockholders may only receive a portion of their investment or nothing at all.

The Purpose of Preferred Stock

The purpose of issuing preferred stock is typically to raise capital for the company. This can be particularly useful when a company needs to raise funds quickly without taking on debt or diluting the ownership of its existing shareholders. Preferred stock can also be attractive to some investors who prefer the predictability of a fixed dividend payment.

Another advantage of preferred stock is that it often comes with priority over common stock in terms of receiving dividends and assets in the event of a company's liquidation. This can make it a more secure investment option for those who prioritize stability over potential growth. However, it's important to note that preferred stock also carries some risks, such as the potential for the company to suspend or reduce dividend payments, and the fact that it may not appreciate in value as much as common stock.

Advantages of Preferred Stock for Investors

For investors, there are several advantages to owning preferred stock. As mentioned earlier, preferred stock offers a fixed dividend payment, which can be an attractive feature for income-oriented investors. Additionally, preferred stockholders have a higher claim on the company's assets and earnings than common stockholders, which can provide some protection in the event of bankruptcy. Finally, preferred stock can be less volatile than common stock, which can be appealing to risk-averse investors.

How Preferred Stock Works in a Board of Directors

The board of directors plays an important role in managing preferred stock. For example, the board might issue preferred stock to raise capital for the company or to provide a tax-efficient way of compensating executives. The board is also responsible for setting the terms of the preferred stock, including the dividend payment and any other features that might be included.

The Role of the Board in Issuing Preferred Stock

When the board decides to issue preferred stock, it has to consider several factors. For example, it needs to determine the size of the offering, the price at which the shares will be sold, and the overall structure of the preferred stock. The board also needs to consider how the issuance of preferred stock might impact existing shareholders, as well as how it might affect the company's financial position.

Voting Rights and Dividend Payments for Preferred Stockholders

While preferred stockholders typically don't have voting rights, they do have the right to receive a fixed dividend payment on a regular basis. This payment is usually higher than the dividend paid out to common stockholders, and it is often paid before any dividends are paid out to common stockholders. In some cases, preferred stock may also have additional features, such as the ability to be converted into common stock at a future date.

Risks Associated with Investing in Preferred Stock

While there are advantages to investing in preferred stock, there are also some risks to consider. For example, preferred stock may be less liquid than common stock, meaning that it may be more difficult to buy or sell shares on short notice. Additionally, preferred stock may be subject to interest rate risk, which means that if interest rates rise, the value of the preferred stock may decline. Finally, while preferred stock is generally less volatile than common stock, it can still be subject to market fluctuations and other risks that can impact its value.

Comparing the Pros and Cons of Preferred Stock with Common Stock

Ultimately, the decision to invest in preferred stock or common stock depends on the individual investor's goals, risk tolerance, and portfolio diversification strategy. Common stock may offer potential for higher returns, but it also carries more risk. Preferred stock may offer a more predictable income stream, but it may be less liquid and subject to interest rate risk. Before investing in either type of stock, investors should carefully consider their options and consult with a financial advisor.

In conclusion, understanding preferred stock and its role in a company's capital structure is an important part of being an informed investor. By considering the advantages and risks of investing in preferred stock, and comparing it to common stock, investors can make a more informed decision about how to allocate their investment portfolio.

Start an AdvisoryCloud

Join an advisory board