Basic Shares vs. Fully Diluted Shares

Basic vs. diluted shares are the two methods, imposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board in 1997, for companies to report their per-share earnings. This is important because per-share profits are at the center of all things financial.

It's these shares that show investors their portion of the company's profits. Basic and fully diluted shares are how the amount of shares investors hold in a company are measured. Basic shares include the stock held by all shareholders, while fully diluted shares are the total number of shares if the convertible securities of a company were exercised. These securities include stock options, stock warrant, and convertible bonds, among other things.

Diluted shares must always be used when calculating a company's MVE, or market value of equity, as the market values company shares using diluted stocks. The number of diluted shares can cause discrepancies in important figures, such as a company's EPS, or earnings per share; the diluted EPS can affect the basic EPS.

Basic EPS vs. Diluted Earnings: Analyzing Income Statements

It's important to know the difference between basic EPS and diluted EPS when analyzing a business's income statement. This is especially important for investors, as using the wrong EPS figure can lead to incorrect information — such as misleading PEG, price-to-earnings, and dividend-adjusted PEG ratios.

When looking into the profit and loss statements of a company, it's important to do research on two different levels. The first is looking at the entire business deciding how profitable it is, and the second is examining the profits per share — how much pretax profits each shareholder receives per owned share; publicly traded companies are divided into shares that represent part of the overall ownership pie. The second figure is the most important for individual investors. If a company's profit increases every year but little profit reaches the shareholders, the businesses profit is less important as it may be a terrible investment. This problem is fairly common and is likely to be run into.

Shareholder-friendly companies focus on per-share results and prioritize them over company size. Management such as this realizes that each time shares are reissued, the current owners are selling a portion of their business assets and giving them to whomever the new owner is. Luckily, the accountants who developed the GAAP rules came up with a solution. Their solution was to have companies present the earnings in their disclosures using two different methods.

Calculating EPS

Basic EPS and diluted EPS are the two figures required by the GAAP. Basic EPS takes the net income of common shares for a period of time and divides it by the average number of outstanding shares for the same period. Diluted EPS calculations include all convertible securities. Out-of-money options are not included in diluted EPS.

Using Diluted EPS to Analyze a Business

When calculating diluted EPS, antidilutive conversions are not included as doing so increases earnings per share, which doesn't happen in the real world. Reasons from a practicality standpoint being: If a company has a large amount of potential dilution and the stock price declines, all of that dilution could be lost from the diluted EPS calculation.

Future increased stock prices could bring the dilution back, which makes calculating a long-term diluted EPS difficult. If the stock price is down for a long period of time, some stock options tend to disappear, though this is often accompanied by new stock options being offered at a lower price. Generally, diluted EPS is lower than basic EPS if the company made a profit ,and similarly, diluted EPS will show a lower loss than basic EPS in the situation of a loss. This is because the profits and losses must be divided among more shares.

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