Stockholders’ equity is an account on a company’s balance sheet comprised of retained earnings and contributed capital. It is a number of assets that remained in the business after the settlement of all obligations. In other words, it means a net worth of a company.


The common shareholders’ equity formula: stockholders’ equity = assets – liabilities. Assets and liabilities are two parts of a balance sheet that is a synthesis of information on the economic situation of a company. Assets are all property of a company supposed to bring commercial benefits. Liabilities are sources of property finance and the organization’s debt to anyone.

For example, if a corporation has $100 in cash, the liabilities section of the balance sheet will show how much of that amount of money has been received from creditors. The equity will show how much of that $100 belongs to the owners. For this reason, equity is calculated as the difference between the assets and the liabilities.

Since only a corporation can issue stock, the equity holders of a corporation are knowns as stockholders. For this reason, stockholder’s equity on the balance sheet is the equity of corporation’s owners.

There are two components of stockholders’ equity: contributed capital and retained earnings. The first one is the capital stockholders paid into the company. It includes resources invested in the company’s assets by the shareholders in exchange for shares in the company.

Retained earnings are comprised of all of the undistributed net profit that a corporation has earned over its life. Each time net income is earned, the company can choose to pay that out as a dividend or retain it. The accumulation of retained income gives retained earnings.