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I have some questions regarding shares outstanding. From a novice point of view, what does shares outstanding mean?

Does it mean, that these are shares that are available for purchase from the compnay?

What does it mean when year over year analysis or even year to year analysis that shares outstanding shows an increase?

If shares outstanding is increasing, does that mean their are more shares available and hence the value of the share is decreasing. If this is the case, wouldn't it be better to see shares outstanding decreasing over time instead of increasing?

What would cause shares outstanding to increase, stock splits perhaps? If shares outstanding decreased, would this be an indication of the company buying back the stock or that the stock is seeling extremely well?

Hope these questions make sense.

Thanks to all for your help towards this unlearned one.

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