The public float, also referred to as free float, represents the portion of a company’s shares that are listed on the market and available for trading. In layman trades, it represents the number of shares that are available for buying and selling by investors.
The number is calculated by deducting any restricted stock from the number of the company's outstanding shares. Restricted stock can include shares unavailable for trading due to a lock-up period, stock held by insiders, or shares held on a company’s own books such as Treasury stock.
When investors talk about “floating a stock,” they refer to the process of listing the company on an exchange i.e. taking the company public.
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