Common stock allows the holder of the stock a percentage share of ownership within a company. Owning shares gives the owner voting power to elect members to the board of directors and vote on other company matters. However, without a significant holding of common stock within a company, the owner’s vote may not have much sway.
Owners of common stock are the last to receive any assets in the event of bankruptcy (liquidation). Debts are first in line, which includes bond and preferred shareholders. If anything is left over, which it usually isn’t, common stock shareholders may receive some compensation. On the positive side, common stock generally outperforms debt instruments such as bonds.