What Is Float In Stocks? - Definition and Examples

Written By Ben Broadwater

Updated November 8, 2023

For anyone asking "what is float in stocks?" – Float is a measure of the number of shares of a company's stock that are available for public trading. To calculate the float, we subtract the number of restricted shares from the number of outstanding shares. Restricted shares are those that are not available for trading, such as shares held by insiders or employees.

Float is an important factor for investors to consider when evaluating a stock. A small float means that there are fewer shares available to trade, which can make the stock more volatile. This is because a small change in demand can have a big impact on the price of the stock.

On the other hand, a large float means that there are more shares available to trade, which can make the stock less volatile. This is because a large change in demand is less likely to have a big impact on the price of the stock.

Investors generally consider high-float stocks to be more liquid than low-float stocks. This means that they are easier to buy and sell, and they tend to have narrower bid-ask spreads.

what is float in stocks

How is Float Calculated?

The float is calculated as follows:

Float = Outstanding shares – Restricted shares

For example, if a company has 100 million outstanding shares and 20 million restricted shares, then the float would be 80 million shares.

What is Float in Stocks? – Factors That Affect Float

The following factors can affect a stock's float:

  • The number of shares outstanding. The more shares outstanding, the larger the float will be.
  • The number of restricted shares. The more restricted shares, the smaller the float will be.
  • The trading activity. The more active a stock is traded, the larger the float will tend to be.
  • The company's policies. Some companies have policies that restrict the sale of shares by insiders, which can reduce the float.

What is Float In Stocks? – Implications

The float can have a number of implications for investors, including:

  • Liquidity: High-float stocks are generally more liquid than low-float stocks. This means that they are easier to buy and sell, and they tend to have narrower bid-ask spreads.
  • Volatility: Low-float stocks tend to be more volatile than high-float stocks. This is because a small change in demand can have a big impact on the price of a low-float stock.
  • Investment strategy: Investors who are looking for a long-term investment may prefer high-float stocks. This is because high-float stocks are generally more liquid and less volatile. Investors who are looking for short-term profits may prefer low-float stocks. This is because low-float stocks can be more volatile and offer the potential for greater gains.

What is a Good Float?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the ideal float will vary depending on the investor's individual circumstances and investment goals.

However, most investors would prefer to invest in stocks with a high float. This is because high-float stocks are generally more liquid and less volatile, which can make them easier to trade and less risky.

Which Stocks Have A Good Float?

  • Apple Inc. (AAPL): Float of 16.4 billion shares.
  • Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Float of 8.8 billion shares.
  • Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN): Float of 5.6 billion shares.
  • Alphabet Inc. (GOOG): Float of 7.6 billion shares.
  • Tesla, Inc. (TSLA): Float of 884 million shares.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A): Float of 2.3 billion shares.
  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): Float of 3.9 billion shares.
  • Walmart Inc. (WMT): Float of 3.6 billion shares.
  • Visa Inc. (V): Float of 2.4 billion shares.
  • Mastercard Inc. (MA): Float of 1.5 billion shares.

These stocks are all considered to have a good float because they have a large number of shares available for trading. This makes them more liquid and less volatile than stocks with a low float.

Additionally, it is important to note that float is just one factor to consider when choosing stocks to invest in. Other factors, such as the company's financial health and prospects, should also be considered.

How Can I Find the Float of a Stock?

Lastly, the float of a stock can be found on most financial websites. You can also find it by looking at the company's annual report.

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