Additional Resources

  1. Capital Markets: An Engine For Economic Growth? [faculty.fuqua.duke.edu]
  2. How Capital Markets Enhance Economic ... [www0.gsb.columbia.edu]
  3. The Relationships Between Stock Market Capitalization Rate And Interest ... [ageconsearch.umn.edu]
  4. Petrobras Market Cap (pbr) [webfeeds.brookings.edu]

Definition

Market capitalization is the market value at a point in time of the shares outstanding of a publicly traded company, being equal to the share price at that point of time times the number of shares outstanding. As outstanding stock is bought and sold in public markets, capitalization could be used as a indicator of public opinion of a company's net worth and is a determining factor in some forms of stock valuation.

Market Capitalization

Market capitalization or market cap is the market value of a company’s outstanding shares. It is calculated by multiplying the mart price of one share with the outstanding shares of a company. This is used by investors to find out the size of the company instead of assessing the asset figures or the aggregate sales.

The company’s size helps in understanding the risk return parameters and asset allocation of stocks. It is important to know that one should not confuse market capitalization with a company’s capitalization because it is a financial statement that talks about the sum of a company's shareholders' equity and long term debt.

Calculating the Market Cap

An easy way to understand market capitalization is to take an example of a company that has 20 million shares outstanding, where the cost of each share is $10. The company’s market capitalization will be $200 million (20,000,000 x $10 per share).

Categories of Market Capitalization

The stocks are determined according to the size of the company and are referred to as small-cap, mid-cap, and large-cap. The categories of market capitalization are as follows:

  • Small Cap: Less than $2 billion.
  • Mid Cap: $2 billion to $10 billion.
  • Large Cap: Greater than $10 billion but under $200 billion.

Some of the lesser known categories are as follows:

  • Nano Cap: Less than $50 million.
  • Micro Cap: Between $50 million to $300 million.
  • Mega Cap: Over $200 billion.

These ranges are not absolute and tend to fluctuate with how the market is performing.

Why is Market Capitalization Important?

The price of the stock does not reflect the company’s size. This means that a higher stock price does not mean that the company is also large in size. If we compare companies according to their stock prices that would be a misinterpretation because it won’t reflect the true values that are affected by the amount of outstanding shares of a company.

The classification of the companies according to the caps allows investors to analyze the growth and study the risk potential. Markets are subjected to change, but it has been seen that large caps have low risks and slow growth, whereas small caps have high risk and a high growth potential.

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