Common stock constitutes the equity capital (also called risk capital) of the firm which is never paid back (redeemed), and is lost if the firm fails. Common stock usually has a par value (amount for which each share is sold for when first issued) but has no guaranteed value afterwards. The most prominent characteristics of common stock are that they entitle the shareholder to vote on corporate matters (typically, the shareholder gets one vote for every share he or she owns, though that is not always the case) such as whether the company should acquire another company, who the board members should be and other big decisions. Common Stock. Stock in a publicly-traded company that entitles holders to vote in the annual meeting, to elect the board of directors, and to generally exercise control of the company. While common stockholders are important in terms of their level of control, they have the least precedence in the event of liquidation.