Shares outstanding are common shares that have been authorized, issued, and purchased by investors. They have voting rights and represent ownership in the corporation by the person or institution that holds the shares. They should be distinguished from treasury shares, which is common stock held by the corporation.
Shares outstanding can be calculated as either basic or fully diluted. The fully diluted shares outstanding count includes diluting securities as options, warrants or convertibles. In the United States, shares outstanding can be obtained from quarterly filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
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