Treasury Stock

Definition

The financial accounting term treasury stock refers to those shares of stock that have been issued by a company, and purchased, or reacquired, by that same company.  Treasury stock appears in the owner's equity section of the company's balance sheet.

Explanation

Treasury stock serves to reduce the total capitalization of a company; therefore, it appears as a negative value in the owner's equity section of the balance sheet.  This is sometimes referred to as a contra-equity account.  After buying back stock, a company can cancel / retire those shares or hold onto them for resale at a future date.

The most common reasons for a company to purchase back its stock include:

  • To increase earnings per share
  • To meet the requirements of a merger or employee stock plan
  • To establish a more robust market for its common stock
  • To reduce the size of the business; a reduction in the total capitalization of the corporation
  • To reduce the exposure of a company to a takeover attempt

Unlike the common shares issued to the public, treasury stock does not have voting rights and does not receive the payment of dividends.  Treasury stock can be recorded at either its par value or at cost.

Example

Company A repurchases 20,000 shares of common stock at $80 per share, or $1,600,000. Total retained earnings appearing on the company's balance sheet is $28,348,000. These line items, as they would appear in the owner's equity section of the balance sheet, would include:

Retained Earnings $28,348,000
Less: Treasury Stock $1,600,000
Total Stockholder’s Equity $26,748,000

 

Related Terms

balance sheet, owner's equity, dividends, market capitalization