Preferred vs normal equity shares: What is the difference?

Potential investors might select between equity and preferred shares when investing in the stock of a particular company. Companies commonly issue and sell stock in the stock market to raise funds for several purposes. Before purchasing equity or preferred shares, studying and comprehending their specific traits and variances is critical to invest in stock market.

Preferred shares vs common shares: A basic understanding

  • Preferred shares

Preferred shares, also known as preference shares, are similar to securities and bonds because they promise a fixed dividend for as long as the shareholder stays invested. Like bonds and securities, preferred stocks also have their principal amounts that are regulated by the rates of interest. When interest rates rise, the value of preference shares falls, and when interest rates fall, the value of preference shares rises.

Preference shares, unlike equity shares, do not come with voting rights. Preference stockholders also have no voice in the corporation’s future relating to electing directors and board members or even agreeing on company policies. Additionally, preference shareholders cannot participate in the company’s profits through additional dividends, like equity shareholders can.

  • Normal equity shares

Equity stock, also known as common or normal stock, provides shareholders with more control over business policy and management issues. People usually refer to equity shares when they discuss anything on the stock market today. Also, this is how most of the companies issue their stocks.

Normal equity shares come with voting rights as well as the right to enjoy a share in the profit of the company through dividends. The company, however, is not obligated to pay equity shareholders dividends, it’s optional and at the discretion of the company. Investors typically have one vote per share to elect board members, who supervise management’s main decisions.

Common stock vs preferred stock: Major differences

  • Right to vote: Although both common and preferred shareholders possess a stake in the corporation, only common shareholders have voting power. Preferred shareholders are not allowed to vote.
  • Returns: An equity share’s returns are typically determined by the rise or fall in the share price and the payment of an optional dividend. A preferred share’s returns conversely are primarily determined by its mandated dividends.
  • Claim to income: When a company declares income, preferred shareholders are often paid first, followed by regular stockholders. The same is done if a company goes bankrupt.
  • Dividends: Dividends on common stock are variable and are given out based on the company’s profitability. Preferred stockholders, however, receive fixed dividends. Preferred stock dividends are also cumulative, which indicates that if they skipped one period, they must be paid in the following period.
  • Conversion: Preferred stocks are convertible into a certain amount of equity shares; however, equity stocks are not convertible.

Important takeaways

Equity shares are far more widely available than preference shares. The decision to buy stock or preferred stock ultimately depends on the investor’s interests. You can consult a financial expert to help figure out what the asset allocation of your investment portfolio should look like depending on your goals and risk appetite.

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