Earnings Per Share

A corporation's profit that is divided among each share of common stock. It is determined by taking the net earnings divided by the number of outstanding common stocks held. This is a way that a company reports profitability.

Earnings per share (EPS) is the amount of earnings per each outstanding share of a company's stock. In the United States, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) requires companies' income statements to report EPS for each of the major categories of the income statement: continuing operations, discontinued operations, extraordinary items, and net income. The EPS formula does not include preferred dividends for categories outside of continued operations and net income. Earnings per share for continuing operations and net income are more complicated in that any preferred dividends are removed from net income before calculating EPS. This is because preferred stock rights have precedence over common stock. If preferred dividends total $100,000, then that is money not available to distribute to each share of common stock. Only preferred dividends actually declared in the current year are subtracted. The exception is when preferred shares are cumulative, in which case annual dividends are deducted regardless of whether they have been declared or not. Dividends in arrears are not relevant when calculating EPS.