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Common Stocks Vs Preferred Stocks

  • Ashesh Anand
  • Nov 22, 2021
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Those interested in investing in publicly traded corporations can do so easily by purchasing stock on the open market. Stock, in general, provides the investor with a fractional ownership stake in the company.


This strategy has served as a source of capital for businesses for many years. They put the proceeds from stock sales toward expanding their business, paying off debt, or increasing research & development. 


While there are other ways to raise money, such as selling bonds, stocks give anybody who wants to invest a chance to profit. There is, however, more than one form of stock. While most investors buy and sell common stock, there is also a type of stock known as preferred stock. Each of these types can be broken down further into classes.


The differences between preferred and ordinary stock are numerous. The key distinction is that preferred stock normally does not provide voting rights to owners, but ordinary stock does, usually at one vote per share owned.


Many investors are more familiar with common stock than preferred stock. Both types of stock reflect a piece of a company's ownership, and both are tools that investors can use to try to profit from the company's future triumphs.


The differences between common and preferred stock will be discussed in this blog. Each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and certain investors may prefer one over the other.


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What are Common stocks?


Common stocks are the shares that investors refer to when discussing the purchase of a company's stock. Common stocks are the shares that are traded on a daily basis in the stock exchanges. It's possible that a corporation will solely issue common stock and no other types of stock (e.g. preference stocks). 


Investors who own shares in a firm are entitled to a portion of the company's income in the form of dividends. A firm, on the other hand, is not required to pay dividends to its shareholders. There may be a few instances where firms may not pay any dividends to their shareholders.


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Stockholders have a possibility to make substantial profits over a long period of time even if the company does not pay dividends. Stock markets have the ability to generate long-term wealth. For common stocks, the risk-reward ratio is high. This signifies that the risk level is equal to the potential reward.


Investors in common stock have voting rights based on the number of shares they possess in relation to the total number of shares issued by a corporation. Shareholders can elect members of the board of directors using their voting rights.


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When a firm goes into liquidation, common stockholders are last in line. The company's creditors are paid first. The primacy of preference stockholders over common stockholders is a significant difference between common and preferred shares. 


When an investor buys a company's stock, they become a part owner in proportion to the number of shares they own. As a result, they come in last, after the creditors.




  • Gives you the ability to vote


  • There is no limit on how much the stock price can rise.


  •  Capital gains taxes are delayed until the stock is sold.




  • Price volatility is higher.


  • There's a chance you won't get any dividends.


  • Preferred shares receive dividends first, followed by common shares.


  • Have a lower priority than preferred shares in terms of receiving a dividend in the event of a liquidation.


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What are Preference stocks?


One of the primary differences between common stock and preferred stock is that preferred stock has no voting rights. They do, however, have ownership rights similar to ordinary stock. The preferred stock's price is determined by the company's success as well as market forces. The corporation also issues them to raise funds.


Preference shares have a set maturity date. The dividend rate, maturity, and dividend payment date are all specified when a corporation issues preference shares.


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Investors in preferred stocks receive monthly dividends. This is another significant distinction between common and preferred shares. Dividends on common stocks are not fixed and do not occur at regular intervals. In the event that the company is liquidated, preferred stock has a larger claim than common stock. 


Not only do preference stockholders have first dibs on dividends, but they also get first dibs on liquidation. Prior to paying dividends to common stockholders, a corporation must pay preference shareholders first.


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  • Receives a specified dividend, which is frequently higher than the dividends paid on common shares.


  • There's a lower probability of losing money.


  •  Takes precedence over common stock in terms of dividends and distribution in the event of a liquidation.




  • The price of a share can only rise so far before it reaches the redemption value.


  • Voting rights are frequently denied.


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Common vs. Preferred Shares: What's the Difference?


1. Company ownership


The corporation is owned by both common stock and preferred stockholders.


2. Voting rights


Despite the fact that both common and preferred shareholders possess a piece of the corporation, only common shareholders have voting power. 


Preferred shareholders are not allowed to vote. Common shareholders, for example, would have a vote on the new board of directors, whereas preferred shareholders would not be allowed to vote.


3. Income from dividends


Although both owners are entitled to dividends, the manner in which dividends are paid differs. Dividends on common stock are variable and are paid out based on the company's profitability. 


Company A, for example, can pay $2 in dividends in the first quarter, but if they lose money in the second quarter, they may choose to pay $0.


Preferred shareholders, on the other hand, receive fixed dividends, therefore Company A would have to pay a $2 dividend at regular intervals. Preferred stock dividends are also cumulative, which means that if they are missed one period, they must be made up the next.


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Returning to the example, if Company A fails to pay the $2 preferred dividend in Quarter 2, they will be required to pay $4 ($2 x 2) in Quarter 3.



4. Claim to earnings


When a corporation declares earnings, there is a payment schedule that investors must follow. In most cases, bondholders are paid first, followed by common stockholders. 


Preferred shareholders are paid out after bond holders but before common stockholders since preferred shares are a blend of bonds and common shares.

If a company goes bankrupt, preferred stockholders must be paid first before common stockholders receive anything.



5. Conversion


Preferred shares can be converted into a specific number of common shares, while common shares cannot be converted into preferred shares.


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6. Returns


Both common and preferred shares are eventually paid out of a company's profits. A common share's returns are typically determined by the increase or fall in the share price, as well as the payment of an optional dividend. 


A preferred share, on the other hand, would not be allowed to vote because its returns are primarily based on its mandated dividends.


Watch this: Common vs Preferred Stock - What is the Difference?


Bottom line


If you look at a list of the benefits and drawbacks of each type of stock, it may appear that preferred stock is the superior option. However, just because preferred stock has a greater priority for dividends and payouts doesn't imply it's always the best option.


Common stock has a higher long-term growth potential than preferred stock, making it a superior choice for long-term investors. As a result, the type that is best for you is determined by your circumstances.

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