Most people invest in companies as a way of seeing their money grow over the long haul. Being a shareholder sometimes also entails other benefits. These can range from actual cash in the form of dividends, to free samples of the company's product. However, the distribution of discretionary perks seems to be getting rarer.
If the stock you hold is doing well, the company may pay you a dividend out of its profits -- essentially a quarterly or annual "thank you" payment for continuing to hold the stock. Some companies issue dividends in the form of stock. Others give cash payments. You can then decide whether to pocket the cash, or reinvest it in more company shares.
Although public companies' financial records are open to anyone, not just shareholders, many companies do restrict access to particular events. This is usually the case with annual meetings, which are presentations for shareholders. As well as hearing what top executives have to say, shareholders may also be able to make statements, ask questions and meet informally with company officers.
Shareholders usually have voting rights in a public company. This means they can vote in officers to the board of directors. Corporations also allow voting on other matters such as mergers and acquisitions, compensation mechanisms and bylaws.
Company perks for shareholders are entirely at the discretion of the company itself. Some offer none at all. Others can be quite generous. They might include discounts on airfares from an airline, coupons from retailers, free samples from a food or candy company, or specially produced branded merchandise. However, many companies have either downgraded or eliminated the perks they offer to shareholders in recent years as part of cost cutting efforts.
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