The stock (also capital stock) of a corporation 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.
The stock of a corporation is partitioned into shares, the total of which are stated at the time of business formation. Additional shares may subsequently be authorized by the existing shareholders and issued by the company.
Shares represent a fraction of ownership in a business. A business may declare different types (classes) of shares, each having distinctive ownership rules, privileges, or share values. Ownership of shares may be documented by issuance of a stock certificate. A stock certificate is a legal document that specifies the amount of shares owned by the shareholder, and other specifics of the shares, such as the par value, if any, or the class of the shares.
There are two main types of shares issued, common shares and preferred shares, which may or may not trade on a stock exchange. Most retail Canadian investors deal with publicly traded companies and their shares.