A treasury stock or reacquired stock is
stock In finance, stock (also capital stock) consists of all the shares by which ownership of a corporation or company is divided.Longman Business English Dictionary: "stock - ''especially AmE'' one of the shares into which ownership of a company ...
which is bought back by the issuing company, reducing the amount of outstanding stock on the open market ("open market" including insiders' holdings). Stock repurchases are used as a tax efficient method to put cash into shareholders' hands, rather than paying
dividend A dividend is a distribution of profits by a corporation to its shareholders. When a corporation earns a profit or surplus, it is able to pay a portion of the profit as a dividend to shareholders. Any amount not distributed is taken to be re-inv ...
s, in jurisdictions that treat
capital gains Capital gain is an economic concept defined as the profit earned on the sale of an asset which has increased in value over the holding period. An asset may include tangible property, a car, a business, or intangible property such as shares. ...
more favorably. Sometimes, companies repurchase their stock when they feel that it is undervalued on the open market. Other times, companies repurchase their stock to reduce dilution from incentive compensation plans for employees. Another reason for stock repurchase is to protect the company against a
takeover In business, a takeover is the purchase of one company (the ''target'') by another (the ''acquirer'' or ''bidder''). In the UK, the term refers to the acquisition of a public company whose shares are listed on a stock exchange, in contrast to t ...
threat.Robert T. Sprouse, "Accounting for treasury stock transactions: Prevailing practices and new statutory provisions." ''Columbia Law Review'' 59.6 (1959): 882-900
/ref> The United Kingdom equivalent of treasury stock as used in the United States is treasury share. Treasury stocks in the UK refers to government bonds or
gilts Gilt-edged securities are bonds issued by the UK Government. The term is of British origin, and then referred to the debt securities issued by the Bank of England on behalf of His Majesty's Treasury, whose paper certificates had a gilt (or gild ...

Limitations of treasury stock

*Treasury stock is not entitled to receive a
dividend A dividend is a distribution of profits by a corporation to its shareholders. When a corporation earns a profit or surplus, it is able to pay a portion of the profit as a dividend to shareholders. Any amount not distributed is taken to be re-inv ...
*Treasury stock has no voting rights *Total treasury stock can not exceed the maximum proportion of total capitalization specified by law in the relevant country When shares are repurchased, they may either be canceled or held for reissue. If not canceled, such shares are referred to as treasury shares. Technically, a repurchased share is a company's own share that has been bought back after having been issued and fully paid. The possession of treasury shares does not give the company the right to vote, to exercise preemptive rights as a shareholder, to receive cash dividends, or to receive assets on company liquidation. Treasury shares are essentially the same as unissued capital, which is not classified as an asset on the balance sheet, as an asset should have probable future economic benefits. Treasury shares simply reduce ordinary share capital.

Buying back shares


In an
efficient market The efficient-market hypothesis (EMH) is a hypothesis in financial economics that states that asset prices reflect all available information. A direct implication is that it is impossible to "beat the market" consistently on a risk-adjusted bas ...
, a company buying back its stock should have no effect on its price per share valuation. If the market fairly prices a company's shares at $50/share, and the company buys back 100 shares for $5,000, it now has $5,000 less cash but there are 100 fewer shares outstanding; the net effect should be that the underlying value of each share is unchanged. Additionally, buying back shares will improve price/earnings ratios due to the reduced number of shares (and unchanged earnings) and improve earnings per share ratios due to fewer shares outstanding (and unchanged earnings). If the market is not efficient, the company's shares may be underpriced. In that case a company can benefit its other shareholders by buying back shares. If a company's shares are overpriced, then a company is actually hurting its remaining shareholders by buying back stock.


One other reason for a company to buy back its own stock is to reward holders of
stock options In finance, an option is a contract which conveys to its owner, the ''holder'', the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a specific quantity of an underlying asset or instrument at a specified strike price on or before a specified d ...
. Call option holders are hurt by dividend payments, since, typically, they are not eligible to receive them. A share buyback program ''may'' increase the value of remaining shares (if the buyback is executed when shares are under-priced); if so, call option holders benefit. A dividend payment short term ''always'' decreases the value of shares after the payment, so, for stocks with regularly scheduled dividends, on the day shares go ex-dividend, call option holders ''always'' lose whereas put option holders benefit. This does not apply to unscheduled (special) dividends since the strike prices of options are typically adjusted to reflect the amount of the special dividend. Finally, if the sellers into a corporate buyback are actually the call option holders themselves, they may directly benefit from temporary unrealistically favorable pricing.

After buyback

The company can either retire (cancel) the shares (however, retired shares are not listed as treasury stock on the company's financial statements) or hold the shares for later resale. Buying back stock reduces the number of outstanding shares. Accompanying the decrease in the number of shares outstanding is a reduction in company assets, in particular, cash assets, which are used to buy back shares.

Accounting for treasury stock

On the
balance sheet In financial accounting, a balance sheet (also known as statement of financial position or statement of financial condition) is a summary of the financial balances of an individual or organization, whether it be a sole proprietorship, a business ...
, treasury stock is listed under
shareholders' equity In finance, equity is ownership of assets that may have debts or other liabilities attached to them. Equity is measured for accounting purposes by subtracting liabilities from the value of the assets. For example, if someone owns a car worth $2 ...
as a negative number. It is commonly called "treasury stock" or "equity reduction". That is, treasury stock is a contra account to shareholders' equity. One way of accounting for treasury stock is with the cost method. In this method, the paid-in capital account is reduced in the balance sheet when the treasury stock is bought. When the treasury stock is sold back on the open market, the paid-in capital is either debited or credited if it is sold for less or more than the initial cost respectively. Another common way for accounting for treasury stock is the par value method. In the par value method, when the stock is purchased back from the market, the books will reflect the action as a retirement of the shares. Therefore, common stock is debited and treasury stock is credited. However, when the treasury stock is resold back to the market the entry in the books will be the same as the cost method. In either method, any transaction involving treasury stock cannot increase the amount of retained earnings. If the treasury stock is sold for more than cost, then the paid-in capital treasury stock is the account that is increased, not retained earnings. In auditing financial statements, it is a common practice to check for this error to detect possible attempts to "cook the books".

United States regulations

In the United States, buybacks are covered by multiple laws under the auspices of the
Securities and Exchange Commission The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is an independent agency of the United States federal government, created in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The primary purpose of the SEC is to enforce the law against market ...

United Kingdom regulations

In the UK, the
Companies Act 1955 A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity representing an association of people, whether natural, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. Company members share a common purpose and unite to achieve specific, declared g ...
disallowed companies from holding their own shares. However, the Companies Act 1985 later repealed this.

See also

* List of financial topics * List of accounting topics *
Shares authorized The authorised capital of a company sometimes referred to as the authorised share capital, registered capital or nominal capital, particularly in the United States) is the maximum amount of share capital that the company is authorised by its con ...
Shares issued In finance and law, issued shares are the shares of a corporation which have been allocated (allotted) and are subsequently held by shareholders. The act of creating new issued shares is called ''issuance''. Allotment is simply the transfer of sha ...
Shares outstanding Shares outstanding are all the shares of a corporation that have been authorized, issued and purchased by investors and are held by them. They are distinguished from treasury shares, which are shares held by the corporation itself, thus represent ...
Share capital A corporation's share capital, commonly referred to as capital stock in the United States, is the portion of a corporation's equity that has been derived by the issue of shares in the corporation to a shareholder, usually for cash. "Share capita ...
* Public float *
Shareholders' equity In finance, equity is ownership of assets that may have debts or other liabilities attached to them. Equity is measured for accounting purposes by subtracting liabilities from the value of the assets. For example, if someone owns a car worth $2 ...


Further reading

* Cho, Sung Ick. "Treasury Stock Sales and Management Rights Protection: Conflicts of Interest between an Owner-manager and Small Shareholders." ''KDI Journal of Economic Policy'' 39.3 (2017): 63-98
* Xia, Belle Selene, Elia Liitiäinen, and Ignace De Beelde. "Accounting conservatism, financial reporting and stock returns." ''Accounting and Management Information Systems'' 18.1 (2019): 5-24
{{Authority control Balance sheet Stock market terminology Corporate finance he:הון מניות#הון מניות רדומות