Corporations finance through a variety of mechanisms. One method is to reinvest profits in the corporation. Another method is to use private equity. Private equity involves financing from private investors, whether individuals (angel investors) or a private equity firm. Venture capital is often used as a fundraising mechanism by businesses that are just starting operations.
A third method is to finance through debt, such as a loan or a bond. A corporation sells a bond and agrees to make interest payments over the life of the bond and to pay the face value of the bond at the bond’s maturity.
The final important method of raising capital is by the sale of stock. The articles of incorporation govern the total number of shares of stock that the corporation may issue, although it need not issue the maximum. Stock in the hands of shareholders is said to be authorized, issued, and outstanding. Stock may have a par value, which is usually the floor price of the stock. No-par shares may be sold for any price set by the directors.
Preferred stock (1) may have a dividend preference, (2) takes preference upon liquidation, and (3) may be convertible. Common stock normally has the right to (1) ratable participation in earnings, (2) ratable participation in the distribution of net assets on liquidation, and (3) ratable vote.
Ordinarily, the good-faith judgment of the directors concerning the fair value of the consideration received for stock is determinative. A minority of states adhere to a true value rule that holds to an objective standard.
A corporation that sells shares for the first time engages in an initial public offering (IPO). The Securities Act of 1933 governs most IPOs and initial stock sales. A corporation that has previously issued stock may do so many times afterward, depending on the corporation’s needs. The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 governs most secondary market stock sales. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 adds another layer of regulation to the financial transactions discussed in this chapter.
A dividend is a share of a corporation’s profits. Dividends may be distributed as cash, property, or stock. The law imposes certain limitations on the amount that the corporation may disburse; most states restrict the cash or property available for distribution to earned surplus. However, a few states, including Delaware, permit dividends to be paid out of the net of current earnings and those of the immediately preceding year, both years taken as a single period; these are known as nimble dividends. The directors have discretion, within broad limits, to set the level of dividends; however, they will be jointly and severally liable if they approve dividends higher than allowed by law or under the articles of incorporation.
With several options available, corporations face many factors to consider in deciding how to raise funds. Each option is not available to every corporation. Additionally, each option has advantages and disadvantages. A corporation must carefully weigh the pros and cons of each before making a decision to proceed on a particular financing path.
Corporate funds that come from earnings are called
When a value is specified on a stock certificate, it is said to be
Common stockholders normally
Preferred stock may be
When a corporation issues stock to the public for the first time, the corporation engages in