Stock float is generally considered to be the number of shares of a company issued to the public that are available for investors to trade. Float does not include shares that are held in a company’s treasury or are under some restriction that prevent them from being traded, such as an employee compensation or options plan. The definition of stock float can vary based on where you look, but the general idea is usually the same – float represents the shares that are available for trading.
Like other things that are bought and sold, stocks follow the economic principle of supply and demand. When the supply of tradeable shares is low and buyer demand is high, stock prices can move higher. And when the supply of such shares is high and buyer demand is low, stock prices can go lower. In the case of low float stocks, where the number of available shares is very low, this can result in explosive stock price movement. But the importance of stock float will ultimately depend on your trading style. For example, a long-term investor that buys and holds a stock for many years may care little about the float, whereas a day trader who is looking for a quick profit may put a lot of focus on stocks with low float.
The float is actually part of the shares outstanding. When a company is formed, articles of incorporation are filed with the proper state authorities. The articles will set out the number of shares the company is allowed to issue upon incorporation to raise money to operate. A company usually will not issue all of its authorized shares at its initial public offering (IPO). Instead, it will reserve a portion of the authorized shares to issue in the future if it needs to raise money again (secondary offering). The shares that the company authorizes and does not reserve are the outstanding shares. These outstanding shares include those that are available for the public to trade, or the float, and the restricted shares that are not yet available for trading.
The answer depends on the investor. A large, institutional investor might consider a stock with a public float of 50 million shares as low float. An individual or retail investor might consider a float of 25 million shares or less as low float. On the other hand, a day trader might prefer a maximum stock float of 10 million shares or less. The answer depends on your trading style.
Stock float can be determined by looking through a company’s publicly available filings located in the EDGAR database maintained by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). All of the data and information filed by publicly traded companies with the SEC are free and accessible to anyone. See our Blog for examples of how you can find the float yourself.
If you're new to investing you've probably come across many sites that provide free financial news and information, including stock float data. And if you've been trading for a while you've probably noticed that stock float numbers can vary from site to site depending on the stock. Despite these differences, traders reference these sites every day when researching stock float information. So we developed FloatChecker to help everyone easily compare this free stock float data across several popular websites with one search. We also use FloatChecker as part of our own research and commentary to educate visitors on how we find an individual stock’s float using financial filings. You can find examples of how to calculate float on our Blog.
Short percentage of float, or short interest ratio, represents the number of shares in the float that investors have sold short. Short selling is when you borrow shares of a stock from your broker and sell those shares in anticipation of the share price falling. If the share price drops, you can buy back (or cover) those shares at a profit. On the other hand, if the stock price rises, the shares can be bought back at a loss. The number is reported as a percentage – the higher the percentage, the greater the number of shares shorted. Some traders look for stocks with a high short interest, hoping to take advantage of a “short squeeze.” A short squeeze can happen when a highly shorted stock begins to rise in price. That can trigger a rush of buying as short sellers try to cut their losses and other investors quickly buy to capitalize on the gains. In certain situations, these gains can be spectacular. Just take the famous example of GameStop Corporation (GME). In early 2021, a short squeeze sent the shares of GME from around $20 to over $480 in a matter of days. While that may be an extreme example, less dramatic short squeezes can happen at any time.
FloatChecker compiles free data from several popular financial websites, including Yahoo Finance, Finviz, Marketwatch, Mornngstar, and TD Ameritrade. Thousands of people use these sites every day to research financially newsworthy information about stocks.
- Yahoo Finance is considered one of the largest business news sites on the web. Launched in 1997, the site provides news, statistics, commentary and tools concerning stocks and personal finance management.
- Finviz, short for Financial Visualizations, is a popular online stock screening and analytics tool. The site is well known for providing highly visual market maps and charts that are easy to access.
- TD Ameritrade is a large discount brokerage that offers a popular online trading platform known as Thinkorswim. The company provides a wide array of trading and financial services.
- Morningstar is an influential financial services company. It provides ratings and information on numerous asset classes, including mutual funds and stocks.
- The storied Wall Street Journal is one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the United States. The Journal covers financial news and more in America and internationally.
All five of these websites provide free data on stocks collected from publicly available company filings, including stock float data. As you compare stock float results on FloatChecker, please consider whether any of the advertised premium services these websites have to offer are appropriate for you. You can click on the advertised links for more information.
FloatChecker is a compilation of float data from several free financial websites. Those sites utilize their own methodologies to determine a stock’s float. That determination ultimately comes from information reported by publicly traded companies themselves. One site’s interpretation of that information can vary from another site’s interpretation. While we strive to accurately present float data, it may be different from what you see when you visit a specific site listed here. You should also keep in mind that financial news and information (like most things in life) can change very quickly. For example, it is not uncommon for a company to suddenly announce a secondary offering of additional shares to raise capital, which can have a significant effect on the stock price and float. Under such circumstances, you should not always expect financial websites across the web to immediately provide the new stock float. But you can read the company's press release and related financial filing, which may discuss the new stock float amount. In addition, when you search a company on FloatChecker, the results will contain a link back to the source webpage if you want to do further research.
We include stocks from the three major U.S. financial securities markets: the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System (NASDAQ), and the American Stock Exchange (AMEX). We focus on stocks, or equities, and generally don’t include securities like bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and derivatives (e.g., futures, options, warrants).
Yes, when you search for a stock you’ll see the current information for float, short interest, and outstanding shares. Scroll down past that data and you’ll see tabs for past information. We’ve added info from the beginning and middle of each month because, based on our experience, the numbers don’t change that drastically day-to-day. We aim to provide about a year or so of historical stock data, but that may increase or decrease depending on visitor input. Also note that newly listed stocks or stocks we recently added won’t have very lengthy histories at first.
Sorry, we cannot offer you any personalized advice on trading or your finances. We are not a registered investment advisor with any governmental authority. We will never offer you any individual investment or trading advice, so please do not ask and ignore any contact with anyone who purports to offer you such advice on behalf of FloatChecker. Whether you decide to trade low float stocks will depend on your investing style and tolerance for risk. Stocks with a low float can be extremely volatile with sudden and quick moves in the stock price. Trade such stocks at your own risk and never trade with money you cannot afford to lose. You should consult with your financial advisor or other qualified professional if you are interested in trading these types of stocks. And of course, you should not rely solely on this site to decide whether to trade a stock. You should conduct your own independent research and talk with a qualified financial advisor before making a trade.