What Is Shareholder Equity and How Is It Calculated?

Many people face the dilemma of whether or not they should invest in a company. The possibilities can be overwhelming, with so many different factors to consider. One important question that matters is how much shareholders equity the company has. If your company is publicly traded, shareholder’s equity includes one of the critical aspects of how it does financially. It’s not too difficult to understand, either. In short, it can be considered the total net worth that belongs to your shareholders. However, it doesn’t always seem clear why this number matters and what it means for your company’s success or failure. Here is the meaning of what is shareholder equity calculation and how is it calculated


Shareholder equity is also known as book value. It represents the company’s net assets or total assets minus intangible assets. In other words, shareholder equity is the owner’s equity of a company. When calculated along with market capitalization, this figure shows whether a stock’s price is in line with its per-share value. If the share deficit exceeds the market cap, it may be time to reevaluate your investment thesis and consider selling the stock.



Shareholders’ equity can be determined by taking the total assets minus total liabilities. Put simply, the principal owners of a company get the profit before taxes, and these owners can use that money to make investments such as in new and improved facilities, new technology, or land development. This creates value for shareholders because their investment is guaranteed from bankruptcy, and they will not lose everything if an investor has less risk tolerance than required for that area. So if a business has $100 in shares, but $50 of it is owned by all shareholders in proportion to the amount of stock they own before taxes, this would mean that shareholders have 50% equity (and earned 1% on their investment) while having paid nothing out yet because interest rates are low. In other words, to determine the shareholder’s equity, you can take the total assets on your balance sheet and subtract the value of liabilities.

Understandably, total assets include the sum of current assets (including cash, inventory, cash equivalents, supplies, accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, and short-term investments), while long-term assets (vehicles, fixtures, buildings, machinery, and land). One can obtain the total liabilities by adding long-term liabilities (post-retirement healthcare liabilities, long-term loans, pension liabilities, deferred revenues, deferred compensation, and bonds payable) and current liabilities (dividends, accounts payable, notes payable, short-term debt, and income taxes owed).

Unlike assets, which can be easily acquired, liabilities are the opposite: if you lose a large debt load to a creditor, your business will find it much harder to borrow money in the future. So understanding how to measure equity is crucial – it shows how much value a business has based on its existing financial structure. By contrast, a business with sluggish sales but high bank cash levels will be valued very differently from one with depressed income but high levels of inventory stock. If you compare two similar businesses side by side, they will likely have similar levels of cash and inventory – this is simply because both companies have enough assets to cover the debts they have incurred. However, it is the level of equity that distinguishes the more valuable business.



If shareholders’ equity is measured as a liability, it’s found by adding all liabilities (short-term debt plus long-term debt) and subtracting total assets from that figure. The result is shareholders’ equity = Share capital + Retained earnings – Treasury stock. That represents the company’s total net worth minus liabilities but does not necessarily include any cash from the operating activities of a business. As an asset, shareholders’ equity reduces a company’s borrowing base to derive its net worth in terms of quick cash available for working capital needs.


Treasury stock refers to shares purchased by the company on an exchange not intended for resale but as part of their share repurchase program. In other words, they purchased these shares with cash raised to reduce the value of outstanding shares (when it decreases, more shares are worth more). Retained earnings would refer to a sum that has been retained and not paid out in dividends or any other form of payment. For example, suppose a company earned $100 in profit last year and did not pay dividends during that period. It would have retained that $100 as a profit. When it reports results for year two, it will report “shareholders’ equity” as $100.


Anything not paid out to shareholders but held by the company in its treasury is known as retained earnings. Retained earnings increase the shareholders’ equity of a company and reduce their total liabilities. One should also know that this represents the “net” amount of shareholders’ equity because there might be other amounts owed in debt or other returns that are parts of a business’s total finances, such as interest expense or working capital.


In business, share capital refers to the money a company raises by selling shares. The term share capital is usually used in countries with a joint-stock system, such as the United Kingdom and Australia. In other countries, such as Canada and France, it’s called “capital stock.” A company typically raises money by selling new shares or asking some shareholders to buy more of their existing shares. It can also get money by borrowing from banks or selling bonds from time to time. Share capital is important because if a company doesn’t have enough available cash for future projects that are needed for growth, it may not be able to grow like it wants to.


The shareholders’ equity of an organization might be negative or positive. When the SE is positive, it implies that an organization has surplus assets exceeding its total liabilities. In contrast, when the SE is negative, it means the liabilities exceed the assets. Therefore, when the value remains negative for an extended period, it can contribute to the insolvency of a company’s balance. Such a case explains why investors hesitate to invest in organizations with negative Shareholders equity, considering them risky or unsafe for investment. Although the SE includes one of the components which can help investors determine an organization’s financial health, it is not a definitive or absolute determinant for such a purpose.

Further, shareholder’s equity can become the most critical metric in determining the return on investment of an equity investor. For instance, shareholder equity is a critical aspect used for calculating return on equity, and it finally enables one to examine the efficacy of a company in using equity from its investors mainly to generate profit.

Shareholder equity calculation is one of the key financial ratios used for computing a company’s capitalization. The value at which a company’s stock is trading is known as its market capitalization, and it can be calculated by multiplying the total number of shares outstanding by the per-share price. In summation, shareholder equity is calculated by taking the difference between shareholder equity and total liabilities.