An investor, dedicated to special situations investing, happens upon a promising arbitrage opportunity. She meticulously crawls over years of annual reports and discovers the acquiring firm is offering shares with an ending ticker designation of “AA”. Intrigued, she wonders; why would a stock have AA at the end of its ticker symbol?

Why Would a Stock Have AA at the End of its Ticker Symbol?

A stock has AA at the end of its ticker symbol to denote the firm has Class A shares. A company that has issued multiple types of shares will distinguish them by using alphabetical acronyms, such as A, B, C, AA …

Class A shares are common shares and to address the question; why would a stock have AA at the end of its ticker symbol? we must explore the differentiating attributes of these unique shares.

Liquidation Priority

Class A shareholders may have priority in the receipt of liquidation and divestiture proceeds. These shareholders would be entitled to their share of the firm’s assets prior to other class shareholders.

Voting Rights

Class A shares usually have higher voting rights than other share classes. This equates to greater director election influence, increased power to shape corporate governance initiatives, and sway-power in major transaction decisions.

Dividend Preference

Class A common shares have dividend preference meaning they are paid a dividend prior to other common share designations, but second in dividend receipt to preferred shares. Once preferred shareholders receive their dividends, common shareholder dividends are paid. Common share dividends are board-discretionary while preferred dividends are a mandatory obligation.

Conversion Rights

Conversion rights allow one class of stock to convert to a different share class. Some Class A shares may be converted to preferred shares or another class designation.

Redemption Rights

Companies can manage their capital structure more effectively using redemption rights. This provision permits a firm to repurchase its shares at a predetermined price, preferably when trading under its intrinsic value. Redemption rights afford a firm the flexibility to return capital to its shareholders.

Trading and Listing Liquidity

Class A shares are the most traded shares. Compared to other share classes, they are more liquid and have a higher trading volume.

We’ve examined some of the defining characteristics in our quest to address; why would a stock have AA at the end of its ticker symbol? But what do the letters tell us?

What do the Letters After a Stock Symbol Mean?

The appended letters mean a company has issued a specific class of shares with a variety of specific characteristics.

  • Class Designation

The “AA” share designation may identify a specific share class within the firm’s share structure. Each differentiated class carries distinct rights and privileges.

  •  Special Designation

Stock exchange listing requirements, company voting rights, and dividend priorities may be categorizations denoted by the “AA” share acronym.

  • Series Designation

In some instances, the letters may specify a series of shares within a class. Convertible shares may have been issued at different times accounting for multiple series, each with its own features, functions, and benefits.

Why would a stock have AA at the end of its ticker symbol? The firm has Class A shares with certain rights, and preferences distinctly different from other company share classes. Keep in mind, that Class A features can vary, and the prudent investor would be wise to consult company bylaws and other corporate disclosures for clarification.

Read next: What Is Special Situations Financing?

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