Preferred stock (also called preferred shares, preference shares or simply preferreds) is a type of stock which may have any combination of features not possessed by common stock including properties of both an equity and a debt instrument, and is generally considered a hybrid instrument. Preferred stocks are senior (i.e., higher ranking) to common stock, but subordinate to bonds in terms of claim (or rights to their share of the assets of the company) and may have priority over common stock (ordinary shares) in the payment of dividends and upon liquidation. Terms of the preferred stock are described in the articles of association.
Like bonds, preferred stocks are rated by the major credit-rating companies. The rating for preferreds is generally lower than for bonds because preferred dividends do not carry the same guarantees as interest payments from bonds and because preferred-stock holders’ claims are junior to those of all creditors.
Preferred stock is a special class of shares which may have any combination of features not possessed by common stock. The following features are usually associated with preferred stock:
- Preference in dividends
- Preference in assets, in the event of liquidation
- Convertibility to common stock.
- Callability (ability to be redeemed before it matures), at the option of the corporation