Definition of Preferred Stock

Oct 06, 2023 By Triston Martin

Common and preferred stocks are the two primary categories that comprise a company's stock offering. Preferred stocks are often priced more than other equities but have several additional advantages. Because of this, people tend to think of them more in terms of bonds than stocks. However, preferred shares have precedence above common stock dividends, which means that bonds still have a greater payment priority than preferred stocks do. The vast majority of businesses do not provide investors with the opportunity to purchase preferred stock; however, many financial institutions and insurance providers, for instance, do.

How Does Preferred Stock Work?

If a business has to sell its assets as part of a bankruptcy case, the preferred shareholders will get their payouts first to the common stockholders. Preferred shareholders often get a dividend return that is much greater than that of common stock investors. Still, they have a considerably more limited capacity to realize capital gains in exchange.

This indicates that the source of any capital gains you experience will most likely be the purchase of preferred stock before a fall in interest rate. Similarly, an improvement in a company's creditworthiness may also result in a rise in the value of the company's preferred stock.

Types of Preferred Stock

In general, there are four different classifications of preferred stock. Each variety gets its name from the course of action the corporation takes, either in favor of or in opposition to the share. There is a vast range of possible phrases for preferred stocks.

The same firm may issue two different preferred stocks; however, if the shares were not issued as a part of the same "series" of preferred stocks, there may be discrepancies. It may be argued that the ability of a preferred stock's dividend to accumulate over time is the most important quality to look for in an investment.

Callable Preferred Shares

It is possible for the corporation that issued the share to "call it back," or repurchase it at a price that has been fixed in advance. In most cases, companies would issue callable stocks to circumvent the need to pay higher interest rates for lengthy periods.


A preferred share that, by its name, may be changed into a common share is known as a convertible share. If you are a preferred shareholder, you can be motivated to do this for several reasons. However, the most frequent reason to swap shares is because the performance of the common stocks is greater than expected.

Changes in common stock price will not negatively impact your investment until you convert your shares. If you buy in convertible preferred stock under the appropriate circumstances, you can gain a lot of money while also enjoying a larger income and taking on less risk. When you convert a preferred share into a common one, you risk losing the ability to convert those shares back into preferred ones in the future.


The financial performance of a company is not always stable. They sometimes have sufficient earnings to pay their stockholders, and on other occasions, they do not. For instance, if the corporation skipped two periods, it must pay you the dividends for both periods before it may pay dividends on the ordinary stock.

If the corporation cannot pay dividends, non-cumulative equities do not accumulate dividends in arrears. It is possible that you will not get anything from the firm that issued your non-cumulative preferred stock if the company creates a loss for the year. You will have to wait until they are profitable again.


Participatory shares are a kind of stock entitled to a predetermined dividend payment. The main distinction between the two types of shareholders is that participatory shareholders can receive bigger payouts than fixed dividends if the company's revenues are higher than expected. When determining the extra profits, businesses can use either fixed sums or percentages. For instance, the increased profits may be computed as a percentage of either the company's net income or the dividend that was distributed to common stock shareholders.

What It Implies for Those Who Invest on Their Own

A number of extra clauses and conditions may impact the price of preferred stock. Some factors to consider are the shareholders' voting rights, the interest rate, and the possibility of the shares being converted into common shares.

Voting vs. Non-Voting

In most situations, owners of preferred stock do not have the power to vote. There have been situations throughout history in which preferred shares were only granted voting rights after a certain period during which dividends were not paid. In situations like this, considerable voting power may effectively be transferred to preferred shareholders, even if they do not gain control of the company.

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