What are Bonus Shares? | Meaning, Working, Advantages vs Disadvantages

Also known as capitalisation issues or scrip issues, Bonus shares refer to offering additional shares to a company’s extant shareholders based on the stocks they already own.

It differs from Rights shares because the latter is provided at a discount rate. In contrast, Bonus shares are provided for free.

They are, in actuality, the accumulated incomes of a company that may decide to convert into free shares instead of raising the dividend payouts.

Key Takeaways

  1. Bonus shares are additional shares given to existing shareholders for free.
  2. Bonus shares do not require payment from shareholders and are issued from the company’s reserves.
  3. Bonus shares increase the total number of shares outstanding but do not dilute the ownership percentage of existing shareholders.
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Why would a company issue Bonus shares?

A company may issue Bonus shares for a variety of purposes. Among them are some of the most significant reasons behind a company offering Bonus shares.

  1. Shortage of cash: When companies face a depletion of cash reserves despite earning massive profits and are on the verge of failing to meet shareholders’ expectations for a regular income, they offer Bonus shares. 
  2. Reorganise company reserves: Companies may provide Bonus issues to restructure their retained earnings. Consequently, the company’s share capital may increase while its other reserves decrease. However, the net asset of the company remains the same.
  3. Promote retail participation: Sometimes, a company’s cost per share may be too high for interested investors. Bonus shares bring down the price per share to some extent and encourage investors to own more shares in the company.
  4. To reward extant shareholders: Bonus shares serve as an alternative form of reward for the loyal shareholders of a company.
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How do Bonus Shares Work?

Bonus shares are offered according to the current holdings of each shareholder. As they are issued keeping in mind a constant ratio between the total number of shares and the number of shares owned, shareholders do not encounter an equity dilution.

For example, if a company offers 4:2 Bonus shares, it implies that the investors will get four additional shares for every two held. Accordingly, if a shareholder owns 1,000 shares in a company, he or she will gain 2,000 bonus shares (1000*4/2).

It is important to note that Bonus shares alone cannot be taxed. However, if the shareholders choose to sell their Bonus shares for profit, they may be charged a capital gain tax.

From the point of internal accounting, the issuance of Bonus shares entails reclassifying reserves with no net impact on the total equity except for its composition.

Advantages of Bonus shares

For the company

  1. Bonus shares as an alternative to dividend payouts help retain the shareholders’ trust in the company.
  2. As the issuance of Bonus shares indicates a company’s commitment to using cash for business development, a positive signal is sent to the market.
  3. Bonus shares increase the number of outstanding shares. Consequently, the liquidity of the stock is enhanced.
  4. Issuance of Bonus shares leads to increased share capital, enhancing the market perception of a company’s size.

For the Shareholders

  1. No notable tax implications: Bonus shares, unless sold for profit, have no tax implications for the shareholders.
  2. Beneficial for long-term investments: An increased number of bonus shares raises the returns if the company rewards dividends in the future.

Disadvantages of Bonus shares

Despite their varied benefits, Bonus shares do have some disadvantages.

  1. Shareholders’ discomfort: Not all investors may want bonus shares instead of dividends as they may have liquidity issues. Selling bonus shares to resolve those liquidity issues may cost them their stakes in the company and, therefore, their control over the company management.
  2. Costly affair: Issuance of Bonus shares entails more expenditure than offering dividends. 
  3. Reduces cost per share: Continuous offering of Bonus shares leads to accumulating shares, leading to a decline in price per share. Some investors may not favourably receive such conditions.
  4. Lengthy process: Issuing Bonus shares entails dealing with many legal and institutional matters. Consequently, implementing a decision about offering Bonus shares takes much time.
  1. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=288743
  2. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=428122
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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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21 thoughts on “What are Bonus Shares? | Meaning, Working, Advantages vs Disadvantages”

  1. The section explaining how bonus shares work is incredibly informative. The detailed explanation, along with the illustrative example, enhances the understanding of this complex process. Well articulated!

    • Absolutely, Gavin. The clarity in elucidating the mechanism of bonus shares contributes to demystifying this aspect of corporate operations. It gives readers a clear insight into the workings of these shares.

  2. The breakdown of why a company would issue bonus shares is quite intriguing. It’s fascinating to learn about the reasons behind such decisions and the impact they have on the company and its shareholders.

    • Absolutely, Oliver. The article presents a compelling analysis of the underlying motives for issuing bonus shares, shedding light on their significance in the corporate context.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Oliver. The in-depth exploration of the reasons behind offering bonus shares in different scenarios is highly informative and thought-provoking.

  3. The comprehensive nature of the article captures the essence of bonus shares and their multifaceted implications. This piece effectively encapsulates the key aspects of this subject matter, making it a compelling read.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Carole. The well-rounded exploration of bonus shares’ intricacies offers readers a holistic perspective, making it an insightful and engaging composition.

    • Indeed, Carole. The comprehensive analysis and detailed coverage of various dimensions related to bonus shares make this article a highly enriching and engaging resource for readers.

  4. The reference section at the end provides helpful sources for further exploration of this topic. It’s commendable to see the inclusion of credible references to support the information presented in the article.

    • Absolutely, Sonia. The provision of reputable references enhances the reliability and academic rigor of the content, making it a valuable resource for anyone seeking in-depth knowledge on bonus shares.

  5. I’ve always been skeptical about bonus shares and their impact on share prices. However, this article has provided some valuable information that has changed my perspective. Thank you for the detailed analysis.

  6. The comparison between rights shares and bonus shares was very enlightening. I appreciate the clarity in distinguishing these terms and the implications of each. Well done!

    • Indeed, understanding the differences between these two methods of offering shares is essential for shareholders and investors. The article does an excellent job of explaining the contrasting features.

  7. The advantages of bonus shares for shareholders are well articulated. It’s insightful to learn about the long-term investment benefits associated with increased bonus shares. This article has enriched my knowledge on this topic.

    • I agree, Reece. The comprehensive description of the advantages gives a clearer understanding of the implications of bonus shares for shareholders. The insights provided are certainly valuable.

  8. The disadvantages of bonus shares are well-presented, outlining the potential drawbacks of such offerings. It’s essential to consider both the benefits and limitations, and this article does so effectively.

    • Indeed, Carole. The examination of the downsides of bonus shares provides a balanced view, enabling readers to weigh the pros and cons of these offerings in a comprehensive manner.

  9. The way the article highlights the advantages for both companies and shareholders adds a layer of depth to the discussion. It’s important to recognize the dual impact of bonus shares, and this post does so remarkably.

    • Indeed, Cheslea. The article’s focus on the mutual benefits of bonus shares offers a comprehensive understanding of their implications for all stakeholders involved in this process.

  10. Thank you for the informative post, Elena. I didn’t know that bonus shares could be issued for purposes other than rewarding existing shareholders. It’s interesting to know that these shares can be used as a means of retaining the trust and loyalty of investors.

    • Absolutely! It’s crucial for companies to offer a variety of incentives to shareholders, and bonus shares are definitely an effective method to achieve that. Great insights in the article.


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