When you own stock in a company, it is important to keep track of its number of shares outstanding, which is the number of shares all investors own. This affects your stake in the company and your piece of its profits. You can find two different measures of shares outstanding on a company’s income statement. A company uses these numbers to calculate two versions of its earnings per share, or EPS, which is one of the most widely followed performance statistics. With all else being equal, a lower share count results in a higher EPS and more profits per shareholder.
Find a company’s income statement in its most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q or annual report on Form 10-K. You can download these forms from the investor relations section of the company’s website or from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s online EDGAR database.Step 2
Locate the line called “weighted average basic shares outstanding” or a similar name on the income statement.Step 3
Identify the number in the amount column on this line. This figure represents the average number of shares investors held at any point in the period. It factors in any fluctuations that might have occurred during the period if the company sold or bought back stock. For example, if a company has 100 million weighted average basic shares outstanding, investors held, on average, 100 million shares at any given time in the period.Step 4
Find the line called “weighted average diluted shares outstanding” below the previous line.Step 5
Look up the number in the amount column. This figure includes the shares from Step 3 as well as the additional shares a company would issue if all of its dilutive securities were exchanged for common stock. Dilutive securities include stock options, convertible preferred stock and similar financial instruments. In this example, assume the company has 125 million weighted average diluted shares outstanding. This means that shares outstanding would have increased by 25 million during the period if all dilutive securities were converted into common shares.
- Review the company’s basic and diluted EPS, listed on the income statement. Basic EPS is the profit earned for every share outstanding in Step 3, while diluted EPS is that earned for every share outstanding in Step 5. Diluted EPS is typically lower than basic EPS due to the higher share count. For example, if a company’s basic EPS is $2 and its diluted EPS is $1.75, it earned $2 for each basic share outstanding and $1.75 for each diluted share.
- If a company doesn’t report its weighted average shares outstanding on the face of the income statement, look in the footnotes to the income statement.
- Review a company’s share count each period to detect any changes. A decreasing number increases your ownership stake and your claim on its earnings.