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Finance Formulas / July 18, 2018 / Cecelia Weiss

Stockholders' equity is often referred to as the book value of the company, and it comes from two main sources. The first source is the money originally and subsequently invested in the company. The second source consists of the retained earnings the company accumulates over time through its operations. In most cases, especially when dealing with companies that have been in business for many years, retained earnings is the largest component.

Common shareholders expect to obtain a certain return on their equity investment in a company. The equity holders' required rate of return is a cost from the company's perspective because if the company does not deliver this expected return, shareholders will simply sell their shares, causing the price to drop. The cost of equity is basically what it costs the company to maintain a share price that is theoretically satisfactory to investors.

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