Corporate finance is the area of finance dealing with the sources of funding and the capital structure of corporations and the actions that managers take to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders, as well as the tools and analysis used to allocate financial resources. The primary goal of corporate finance is to maximize shareholder value. Although it is in principle different from managerial finance which studies the financial management of all firms, rather than corporations alone, the main concepts in the study of corporate finance are applicable to the financial problems of all kinds of firms.
Investment analysis (or capital budgeting) is concerned with the setting of criteria about which value-adding projects should receive investment funding, and whether to finance that investment with equity or debt capital. Working capital management is the management of the company's monetary funds that deal with the short-term operating balance of current assets and current liabilities; the focus here is on managing cash, inventories, and short-term borrowing and lending (such as the terms on credit extended to customers).]citation needed[
The stock (also capital stock) of an incorporated business constitutes the equity stake of its owners. It represents the residual assets of the company that would be due to stockholders after discharge of all senior claims such as secured and unsecured debt. Stockholders' equity cannot be withdrawn from the company in a way that is intended to be detrimental to the company's creditors.
A stock market or equity market is the aggregation of buyers and sellers (a loose network of economic transactions, not a physical facility or discrete entity) of stocks (shares); these are securities listed on a stock exchange as well as those only traded privately.
Stocks are partitioned in various ways. One common way is by the country where the company is domiciled. For example, Nestle, Roche, and Novartis are domiciled in Switzerland, so they are part of the Swiss stock market.
Financial economics is the branch of economics concerned with "the allocation and deployment of economic resources, both spatially and across time, in an uncertain environment". It is additionally characterised by its "concentration on monetary activities", in which "money of one type or another is likely to appear on both sides of a trade". The questions within financial economics are typically framed in terms of "time, uncertainty, options, and information".
A topic of general interest studied in recent years has been financial crises.
Preferred stock (also called preferred shares, preference shares or simply preferreds) is an equity security which may have any combination of features not possessed by common stock including properties of both an equity and a debt instrument, and is generally considered a hybrid instrument. Preferreds are senior (i.e. higher ranking) to common stock, but subordinate to bonds in terms of claim (or rights to their share of the assets of the company) and may have priority over common stock in the payment of dividends and upon liquidation. Terms of the preferred stock are described in the articles of association.
Similar to bonds, preferred stocks are rated by the major credit-rating companies. The rating for preferreds is generally lower, since preferred dividends do not carry the same guarantees as interest payments from bonds and they are junior to all creditors.
Common stock is a form of corporate equity ownership, a type of security. The terms "voting share" or "ordinary share" are also used frequently in other parts of the world; common stock being primarily used in the United States.
It is called "common" to distinguish it from preferred stock. If both types of stock exist, common stock holders cannot be paid dividends until all preferred stock dividends are paid in full.
Participating preferred stock is preferred stock which provides a specific dividend that is paid before any dividends are paid to common stock holders, and which takes precedence over common stock in the event of a liquidation. This form of financing is used by private equity investors and venture capital firms. Holders of participating preferred stock get both their money back (with interest) and the money that is distributable with respect to the percentage of common shares into which their preferred stock can convert.
Like common stock, preferred stocks represent partial ownership in a company. Preferred stock shareholders may or may not enjoy any of the voting rights of those holding common stock. Also, unlike common stock, a preferred stock pays a fixed dividend that does not fluctuate. Often the dividend is cumulative. Thus, the company must pay all unpaid preferred dividends accumulated during previous periods before it can pay dividends to common shareholders. If the company is unable to pay this dividend, the preferred shareholders may have the right to force a liquidation of the company.