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Let's assume a company, for example NASDAQ:YHOO, is listed on Google Finance with having issued 1.24B shares. Let's further assume I buy all of these stocks. (Let's assume all shareholders are willing to sell.) Where or how can I find out what portion of the total company these 1.24B shares represent?

I think I know that a company going public doesn't have to "sell" 100% of the company on the stock exchange – the company/owners can retain a certain amount. Where can I find out about these amounts? What's the keyword?

  • Key phrase is "treasury stock". They should be visible on the balance sheet and probably in other required regulatory filings. – Alexey Kalmykov Feb 2 '12 at 16:03
  • @AlexeyKalmykov: could you make your comment an answer (and maybe expand a little), so people can up-vote it? – Joshua Ulrich Feb 2 '12 at 16:08
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    @JoshuaUlrich Sorry for making it a comment, but actually I doubt that this question is in scope of Quant.SE as it's general finance/accounting question. If it's not closed, I will definitely write an extended answer. – Alexey Kalmykov Feb 2 '12 at 16:17
  • @AlexeyKalmykov Feel free to add your answer. If a question is closed, you still get to keep your credit. If the answer is migrated, you'll get credit on the destination site. – chrisaycock Feb 2 '12 at 18:34
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I think you're looking for the public float:

Public float or the unqualified term may also refer to the number of outstanding shares in the hands of public investors as opposed to company officers, directors, or controlling-interest investors. Assuming the insider held shares are not traded, these shares are the publicly traded ones. The float is calculated by subtracting restricted shares from outstanding shares.

As mentioned, Treasury stock is probably the most narrow definition of restricted stock (not publicly traded), but shares held by corporate officers or majority investors are often included in the definition as well. In any case, the balance sheet is indeed a good place to start.

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The best place to start looking is the companies "Balance Sheet" (B/S). This would show you the total shares "outstanding." The quarterly B/S's arent audited but a good starting point.

To use in any quant method, You also need to look a growth the outstanding shares number. Company can issue shares to any employee without making a filing. Also, YOU will NEVER know exactly the total number because of stock options that are issued to employees that are out of the money arent account for. Some companies account for these, some dont.

You should also explore the concepts of "fully dilute" shares and "basis" shares. These concepts will throw-off your calc if the company has convertible bonds.