In finance, a stock is a unit of account for various investments. It represents a claim on the part of the investor on the assets of a company or other economic entity. These assets may be in the form of cash, bonds, shares, or other property. The stockholder is one who owns shares in a corporation and/or has voting rights within that corporation.
The concept of stocks began in medieval times when people started buying shares in businesses as a way to support them financially and also to share in their profits. This idea quickly spread throughout Europe and then to the Americas. In early American history, stocks were often traded informally between individuals without going through any formal exchange. This changed with the launch of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 1792. The NYSE is now the world’s largest stock exchange by market capitalization.
When an investor buys shares in a company, they become a shareholder and have partial ownership of that company. Publicly traded companies have many shareholders who own tiny fractions of the company. For example, if you own 1 share out of 1,000 outstanding shares, you own 0.1% of that company. If a company has 1 million outstanding shares and you own 1 share, you still only own 0%.
As a shareholder, you are entitled to certain rights and privileges within the company. These include the right to vote on corporate matters such as board elections and major decisions like whether to merge with another company or not