The Stock Exchange provide companies with the facility to raise capital for expansion through selling shares to the investing public.
Besides the borrowing capacity provided to an individual or firm by the banking system, in the form of credit or a loan, there are four common forms of capital raising used by companies and entrepreneurs. Most of these available options, might be achieved, directly or indirectly, involving a stock exchange.
Capital intensive companies, particularly high tech companies, always need to raise high volumes of capital in their early stages. For this reason, the public market provided by the stock exchanges has been one of the most important funding sources for many capital intensive startups. After the 1990s and early-2000s hi-tech listed companies’ boom and bust in the world’s major stock exchanges, it has been much more demanding for the high-tech entrepreneur to take his/her company public, unless either the company already has products in the market and is generating sales and earnings, or the company has completed advanced promising clinical trials, earned potentially profitable patents or conducted market research which demonstrated very positive outcomes. This is quite different from the situation of the 1990s to early-2000s period, when a number of companies (particularly Internet boom and biotechnology companies) went public in the most prominent stock exchanges around the world, in the total absence of sales, earnings and any well-documented promising outcome. Anyway, every year a number of companies, including unknown highly speculative and financially unpredictable hi-tech startups, are listed for the first time in all the major stock exchanges — there are even specialized entry markets for these kind of companies or stock indexes tracking their performance (examples include the Alternext, CAC Small, SDAX, TecDAX, or most of the third market companies).
A number of companies have also raised significant amounts of capital through R&D limited partnerships. Tax law changes that were enacted in 1987 in the United States changed the tax deductibility of investments in R&D limited partnerships. In order for a partnership to be of interest to investors today, the cash on cash return must be high enough to entice investors. As a result, R&D limited partnerships are not a viable means of raising money for most companies, specially hi-tech startups.
A third usual source of capital for startup companies has been venture capital. This source remains largely available today, but the maximum statistical amount that the venture company firms in aggregate will invest in any one company is not limitless (it was approximately million in 2001 for a biotechnology company). At those level, venture capital firms typically become tapped-out because the financial risk to any one partnership becomes too great.
A fourth alternative source of cash for a private company is a corporate partner, usually an established multinational company, which provides capital for the smaller company in return for marketing rights, patent rights, or equity. Corporate partnerships have been used successfully in a large number of cases.
When people draw their savings and invest in shares (through an IPO or the issuance of new company shares of an already listed company), it usually leads to rational allocation of resources because funds, which could have been consumed, or kept in idle deposits with banks, are mobilized and redirected to help companies’ management boards finance their organizations. This may promote business activity with benefits for several economic sectors such as agriculture, commerce and industry, resulting in stronger economic growth and higher productivity levels of firms. Sometimes it is very difficult for the stock investor to determine whether or not the allocation of those funds is in good faith and will be able to generate long-term company growth, without examination of a company’s internal auditing.
Companies view acquisitions as an opportunity to expand product lines, increase distribution channels, hedge against volatility, increase its market share, or acquire other necessary business assets. A takeover bid or a merger agreement through the stock market is one of the simplest and most common ways for a company to grow by acquisition or fusion.
Both casual and professional stock investors, as large as institutional investors or as small as an ordinary middle-class family, through dividends and stock price increases that may result in capital gains, share in the wealth of profitable businesses. Unprofitable and troubled businesses may result in capital losses for shareholders.