Skip to main content
The boards are getting a new home!

We're pleased to announce an update is coming to the community boards.

Sunday, September 25th: We are migrating the boards to a new platform. The site is currently in read-only mode and we will bring it back online as soon as the migration is complete. | The Motley Fool Community
This Board Has Moved

This board has been migrated to our new platform! Click below to continue the discussion on the new site.

Go to the New Site
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 0
<<I found in my files a certificate for shares of 'common stock'. Exactly what does common stock mean, and how does it differ from preferred stock? How would I look up the value of common stock?>>

Common stock represents shares of ownership in a company. It's the regular, plain vanilla form of stock. In addition to common stock, some companies issue "preferred stock" and other items. Below is an explanation of preferred stock that I prepared for our weekly newspaper feature (more on that at:


Q. What's preferred stock? -- O. F., Kansas City, Mo.

We generally avoid investing in preferred stocks, but we're happy to explain them. Like common stock, a share of preferred stock confers partial ownership of a company to its holder. But unlike common stock, holders of preferred stock usually have no voting privileges. Shares of preferred stock often pay a guaranteed fixed dividend that is higher than the common stock dividend.

Preferred stock isn't really for individual investors, though. The shares are usually purchased by other corporations, which are attracted by the dividends that give them income taxed at a lower rate. Corporations also like the fact that preferred stockholders' claims on company earnings and assets have a higher priority than that of common stockholders. Imagine that the One-Legged Chair Co. (ticker: WOOPS) goes out of business. Many people or firms with claims on the company will want their due. Creditors will be paid before preferred stockholders, but preferred stockholders have a higher priority than common stockholders.
Print the post  


When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.