Stockholders' Equity: Classes of Capital Stock

Read this chapter, which details stockholders' equity, specifically capital stock. You learn about the different classes of stock, their characteristics, how capital appears on the Statement of Stockholders' Equity, and the steps for issuing stock to the public.

The corporation

A corporation is an entity recognized by law as possessing an existence separate and distinct from its owners; that is, it is a separate legal entity. Endowed with many of the rights and obligations possessed by a person, a corporation can enter into contracts in its own name; buy, sell, or hold property; borrow money; hire and fire employees; and sue and be sued.

Corporations have a remarkable ability to obtain the huge amounts of capital necessary for large-scale business operations. Corporations acquire their capital by issuing shares of stock; these are the units into which corporations divide their ownership. Investors buy shares of stock in a corporation for two basic reasons. First, investors expect the value of their shares to increase over time so that the stock may be sold in the future at a profit. Second, while investors hold stock, they expect the corporation to pay them dividends (usually in cash) in return for using their money. Chapter 13 discusses the various kinds of dividends and their accounting treatment.