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How to identify outstanding shares of stock

Updated March 23, 2017

Outstanding shares of stock are all of a company's shares owned by investors, including company officers and insiders as well as the public. The number of shares outstanding is important because the net income per share is calculated from the company's net income divided by the outstanding shares. With a little research you can find any company's number of outstanding shares of stock.

Locate and select the "Investors" or "Investor Services" link on the home page of the company's website. Most company websites will have the link in the top menu bar. Some companies with retail-oriented sites will have the link at the bottom of the page.

Find the most recent quarterly earnings report. The reports are usually listed under press releases or financial reports. All publicly traded corporations are required to report their financial results every fiscal quarter. They will issue a press release that outlines the results for the quarter and provides summary income and balance sheet statements.

Find the Income Statement on the press release. The income statement will be two columns or more of financial data. The first part will be revenues for the quarter followed by a listing of the company's expenses by category. The expenses will be subtracted from the revenues providing the net income and then the net income per share.

Locate the total shares outstanding number on the income statement. The number for shares outstanding will be near the net income per share number, either below or to the side.

Tip

The total shares outstanding can fluctuate each quarter. Company officers can receive shares as bonuses, or the company may issue more shares to raise capital. A share buyback program will reduce the number of outstanding stock shares.

Warning

Each company organises its website and press releases differently. The outstanding share balance will be on or near the income statement that gives net income and net income per share along with the revenues and expenses.

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About the Author

Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.