A stock ledger is a detailed record kept by a company to track movements of stock. This can apply to an inventory of products or a listing of shares and their owners. The intended meaning is usually clear from the context. In both cases, the record can be used in tax declarations and other financial statements in addition to creating a useful resource for internal reference, where people may want to have detailed information on current stock.
In the sense of an inventory, the stock ledger records products accepted and sold. When shipments arrive, personnel can enter important details, including the number of products, value, and date of arrival. The ledger may include a section to note when materials are put out for sale. At the time of sale, the stock ledger can be updated to reflect the new information. These records help companies track the movement of inventory so they can make decisions about what to buy and when.
More commonly, this term is used to discuss shareholder records. Companies that issue stock need to maintain a ledger with current ownership information. This benefits shareholders, who want to be sure that they are the registered owners, especially in the event of a dividend where the company makes payments to all the people listed in the ledger. In addition, companies may want to be able to track who owns shares to detect trends like someone attempting to buy up a controlling share.
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Publicly traded companies are subject to a number of regulations to protect shareholders and the general public. These include stipulations regarding stock ledgers. The company may need to follow a specific format and include particular information. Regulators can ask to inspect documentation like the stock ledger to confirm it is accurate and look for issues like conflicts or outdated information. Shareholders also need to be provided with information on how to update their registration so they can ask the company to change the details when they buy or sell shares.
Companies typically designate a staff member or department to handle shareholder communications and administration. This includes updating the stock ledger, following up on claims related to lost and stolen certificates, and providing shareholders with publications on request. Those holding shares in a company have the right to review certain financial documents, receive annual reports, and request information about who is currently in charge and where the company is located. Designating a department to provide these services can assist with regulatory compliance.