How to Find the Total Number of Shares From a Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a company's net worth statement.

balance sheet image by Darko Draskovic from Fotolia.com

You can find the total number of shares in the shareholders' equity section of a company's balance sheet, which also summarizes the assets and liabilities. The numbers of authorized, issued and outstanding common shares are listed in this section, along with the number of preferred shares. Companies with multiple classes of shares and voting rights may list them in the notes accompanying the financial statements. You can find these statements in the investor relations section of corporate websites.

Locate the line titled "preferred stock" in the shareholders' equity section of the balance sheet. This line will indicate the number of authorized and issued preferred shares, along with the par and paid-in capital amounts. The par value is the stated or nominal value of each share and the paid-in capital is the amount in excess of the par value received when issuing the shares.

Tip

A balance sheet is a snapshot of a company's financials at a particular moment in time. These numbers are subject to change frequently, so you'll have to check back regularly if you want accurate share counts.

Locate the line titled "common stock" in the shareholders' equity section. The number of outstanding shares is always less than or equal to the number of issued and authorized shares. The number of issued shares refers to the shares a company has issued to-date out of the maximum number of shares authorized by its board.

Tip

When companies repurchase shares, the number of outstanding shares decrease. Companies do this to increase their earnings per share, as the same amount of earnings is spread out over a smaller number of shares, resulting in earnings-per-share "growth."

Locate the line titled "treasury stock" in the shareholders' equity section. This account records the number and value of shares a company has repurchased with the intentions of reissuing them later. The number of treasury shares is equal to the difference between the number of issued and outstanding shares. However, if it retires the shares after repurchasing them, the company would reduce the number of issued shares. For example, if the company has issued 1 million shares, then repurchases and retires 100,000 shares, the new number of issued shares would be 900,000.

Tip

Stock splits increase the number of issued and outstanding shares on a company's balance sheet. For example, a 2-for-1 stock split would double the number, while a 3-for-2 stock split would increase it by 50 percent. The company may have to increase the number of authorized shares after a stock split. A reverse stock split would decrease the number of issued and outstanding shares. For example, a 1-for-10 reverse stock split would reduce the number by 90 percent.

Tip

  • Stock splits increase the number of issued and outstanding shares on a company's balance sheet. For example, a 2-for-1 stock split would double the number, while a 3-for-2 stock split would increase it by 50 percent. The company may have to increase the number of authorized shares after a stock split. A reverse stock split would decrease the number of issued and outstanding shares. For example, a 1-for-10 reverse stock split would reduce the number by 90 percent.

Photo Credits

  • balance sheet image by Darko Draskovic from Fotolia.com

About the Author

Based in Ottawa, Canada, Chirantan Basu has been writing since 1995. His work has appeared in various publications and he has performed financial editing at a Wall Street firm. Basu holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Ottawa and holds the Canadian Investment Manager designation from the Canadian Securities Institute.


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