What is Stockholders’ Equity?

Stockholders’ Equity

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Stockholders’ Equity

Stockholders’ equity, also known as shareholders’ equity or owners’ equity, represents the residual interest in the assets of a corporation that remains after deducting its liabilities. In simpler terms, it’s what’s left over for the shareholders if all the company’s assets were sold off and all its debts were paid off.

Stockholders’ equity can be viewed as the net assets of a company, reflecting the capital that has been provided by shareholders and any retained earnings (profits that have not been distributed to shareholders).

The two main sources of stockholders’ equity are:

  • Contributed Capital: This includes money and other assets invested in the corporation by the shareholders. The most common account within contributed capital is “common stock,” although there may also be “preferred stock,” “paid-in capital in excess of par,” and other similar accounts.
  • Retained Earnings: This represents the cumulative amount of net income that the company has earned over its lifetime and chosen to reinvest in the business rather than distribute to its shareholders in the form of dividends.

The basic accounting equation that relates to stockholders’ equity is:
Assets = Liabilities + Stockholders’ Equity

The components of stockholders’ equity can be found in the equity section of a company’s balance sheet.

Example of Stockholders’ Equity

Let’s consider a fictional example to illustrate the concept of stockholders’ equity.


BlueSky Technologies Inc. is a company specializing in cloud-based solutions. We’ll explore its balance sheet at the end of its fiscal year to understand the stockholders’ equity position.

Balance Sheet (Extracted):


  • Total Current Assets: $500,000
  • Property, Plant, and Equipment: $700,000
  • Intangible Assets: $200,000

Total Assets = $1,400,000


  • Total Current Liabilities: $300,000
  • Long-term Debt: $400,000

Total Liabilities = $700,000

Stockholders’ Equity:

  • Common Stock (10,000 shares at $10 par): $100,000
  • Paid-in Capital in Excess of Par: $150,000
  • Retained Earnings: $500,000
  • Less: Treasury Stock (1,000 shares at $15 per share): $15,000

Now, let’s compute the total stockholders’ equity.

  • Total Contributed Capital: Common Stock + Paid-in Capital in Excess of Par = $100,000 + $150,000 = $250,000
  • Total Equity before Treasury Stock: Contributed Capital + Retained Earnings = $250,000 + $500,000 = $750,000
  • Total Stockholders’ Equity: Total Equity before Treasury Stock – Treasury Stock = $750,000 – $15,000 = $735,000

So, the stockholders’ equity for BlueSky Technologies Inc. is $735,000.


If BlueSky Technologies Inc. were to liquidate all its assets and use the proceeds to pay off all its liabilities, the remaining amount that theoretically belongs to the shareholders is $735,000.

Also, referring to the fundamental accounting equation:
Assets = Liabilities + Stockholders’ Equity
$1,400,000 (Total Assets) = $700,000 (Total Liabilities) + $735,000 (Stockholders’ Equity)

There’s a discrepancy of $35,000 due to rounding or other potential balance sheet items not provided in this simplified example. However, in real-world scenarios, the equation will always balance, as it’s the cornerstone of double-entry bookkeeping.

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