# Stockholders’ Equity: What It Is, How to Calculate It, Examples

Since equity accounts for total assets and total liabilities, cash and cash equivalents would only represent a small piece of a company’s financial picture. The total number of outstanding shares of a company can change when a company issues new shares or repurchases existing shares. It should be noted that the value of common and preferred shares is recorded at par value on the balance sheet, so the amount shown doesn’t necessarily equal or approximate the company’s market value.

The total assets value is calculated by finding the sum of the current and non-current assets. It also reflects a company’s dividend policy by showing its decision to pay profits earned as dividends to shareholders or reinvest the profits back into the company. On the balance sheet, shareholders’ equity is broken up into three items – common shares, preferred shares, and retained earnings.

## How Is Equity Calculated?

For example, if a company reports \$10,000,000 in net profits for the quarter and pays \$2,000,000 in dividends, it increases stockholders’ equity by \$8,000,000 through the retained earnings account. If a company reports a loss of net income for the quarter, it will reduce stockholders’ equity. Retained earnings represent the cumulative amount of a company’s net income that has been held by the company as equity capital and recorded as stockholders’ equity.

If negative, the company’s liabilities exceed its assets; if prolonged, this is considered balance sheet insolvency. Typically, investors view companies with negative shareholder equity as risky or unsafe investments. Shareholder equity alone is not a definitive indicator of a company’s financial health; used in conjunction with other tools and metrics, the investor can accurately analyze the health of an organization. Stockholders’ equity is the remaining assets available to shareholders after all liabilities are paid.

## Where to Find Data for Company Equity

Negative shareholder equity means that the company’s liabilities exceed its assets. Let’s assume that ABC Company has total assets of \$2.6 million and total liabilities of \$920,000. The number of shares issued and outstanding is a more relevant measure than shareholder equity for certain purposes, such as dividends and earnings per share (EPS). This measure excludes Treasury shares, which are stock shares owned by the company itself. If a company’s shareholder equity remains negative, it is considered to be balance sheet insolvency. SE is a number that stock investors and analysts look at when they’re evaluating a company’s overall financial health.

1. Venture capitalists look to hit big early on and exit investments within five to seven years.
2. If it’s in positive territory, the company has sufficient assets to cover its liabilities.
3. It is the difference between shares offered for subscription and outstanding shares of a company.
4. Aside from stock (common, preferred, and treasury) components, the SE statement includes retained earnings, unrealized gains and losses, and contributed (additional paid-up) capital.

Shareholder equity represents the total amount of capital in a company that is directly linked to its owners. Retained earnings are part of shareholder equity as is any capital invested in the company. In most cases, retained earnings are the largest component of stockholders’ equity. This is especially true when dealing with companies that have been in business for many years. Stockholders’ equity is a line item that can be found on a company’s balance sheet, and the trend in stockholders’ equity can be assessed by looking at past balance sheet reports.

The amount of paid-in capital from an investor is a factor in determining his/her ownership percentage. However, shareholders’ equity alone may not provide a complete assessment of a company’s financial health. A company’s equity position can be found on its balance sheet, where there is an entry line for total equity on the right side of the table. Treasury stocks are repurchased shares of the company that are held for potential resale to investors. It is the difference between shares offered for subscription and outstanding shares of a company. The amount of equity one has in their residence represents how much of the home they own outright by subtracting from the mortgage debt owed.

## Stockholders’ Equity Example

In the example, this company had experienced a significant year-over-year increase in total assets, from \$675,000 to \$770,000. However, this change was offset by a substantial increase in total liabilities, from \$380,000 to \$481,000. Since total assets rose \$95,000 versus a \$101,000 increase in total liabilities over the period, the company’s stockholders’ equity account actually dropped in value by \$6,000.

## Calculating Stockholders’ Equity

The “Treasury Stock” line item refers to shares previously issued by the company that were later repurchased in the open market or directly from shareholders. Next, the “Retained Earnings” are the accumulated net profits (i.e. the “bottom line”) that the company holds onto as opposed to paying dividends to shareholders. During a liquidation process, the value of physical assets is reduced and there are other extraordinary conditions that make the two numbers incompatible. Long-term liabilities are obligations that are due for repayment over periods longer than one year.

The \$65.339 billion value in company equity represents the amount left for shareholders if Apple liquidated all of its assets and paid off all of its liabilities. Unlike shareholder equity, private equity is not accessible to the average individual. Only “accredited” investors, those with a net worth of at least \$1 million, can take part in private equity or venture capital partnerships.

Buybacks, for example, can push stockholders’ equity into negative territory in the short term but benefit the company financially in the long run. In the final section of our modeling exercise, we’ll determine our company’s shareholders equity balance for fiscal years ending in 2021 and 2022. Aside from stock (common, preferred, and treasury) components, the SE statement includes retained earnings, unrealized gains and losses, and contributed (additional paid-up) capital. Positive shareholder equity means the company has enough assets to cover its liabilities.

When liquidation occurs, there’s a pecking order that applies which dictates who gets paid out first. Calculating stockholders’ equity can give investors a better idea of what assets might be left (and paid out to shareholders) once all outstanding liabilities or debts are satisfied. Stockholders’ equity is the value of a company directly attributable to shareholders based on in-paid capital from stock purchases or the company’s retained earnings on that equity. Low or declining stockholders’ equity could indicate a weak business, and/or a dependency on debt financing. However, low or negative stockholders’ equity is not always an indication of financial distress.