FACE VALUES: Definition, Importance and Difference

Face Value
Image Credit: CMRichey

Anyone who is conversant with the stock market will definitely check out the face value of a company’s shares before making a commitment. As a general rule, you must understand the role of face values and their importance in the stock market if you plan to make investments there. Investing involves a lot of terms, but clearly understanding each of these as well as their significance, benefits, and roles will help you trend carefully as an investor. Today, we’ll check out the definition, importance, and difference between the face value and market value of shares and bonds, as well as their certificates. We’ll also address how face values affect investing.

What Is Face Value?

Generally speaking, “face value” refers to the price at which anyone can buy a company’s stock. Every issued stock certificate has a face value. When a company or organization begins issuing bonds and shares, they designate a face value, also called a nominal value. The stated value in dollars at the time of issuing a security is known as the “face value” of that security. The concept of face value is the backbone of the stock market. Stocks offered by publicly traded companies through initial public offerings (IPOs) maintain this value. This is the same as the stock’s face value, which can be found on the certificate.

For Bonds

When a bond matures, the issuer pays the holder the face value of the bond. A bond’s return can be based on its interest rate alone, or on the difference between its initial issue price and its final redemption price. The face value of a bond is its expected value at the bond’s maturity date. It’s the amount a bondholder can expect to receive at maturity (if the issuer doesn’t foreclose or call the bond). Since bonds are typically issued in $1,000 increments, their face value will also typically be $1,000. Bond prices fluctuate over the life of the security in response to market conditions. As a result of changes in interest rates time and other market conditions, the prices of bonds do fluctuate. 

For Shares

According to Investopedia, the required amount of legal capital for a corporation is equal to the total face value of all of the company’s stock shares. The only capital that can be distributed to shareholders in the form of dividends is the surplus. These face-value reserves serve as a backup plan in case of default.

Understanding Face Value

The face value of a bond or stock is one factor in determining its market value. The value of a stock or bond in the market is determined by a variety of factors, including supply and demand.  If bond investor holds their bonds until maturity, they will receive the face value (par value) of their bonds. Interest rates affect the value of bonds traded on the secondary market. 

While bonds offer a guaranteed return equal to their face value, the value of a stock is not necessarily reflected by its face value.

Importance of Face Values

Generally, face value, or nominal value, is of crucial importance in investing. The following are some of face values importance;

  • It’s a useful tool for calculating potential earnings.
  • It’s a tool for figuring out how much a stock is worth in today’s market.
  • It’s a useful tool for determining premiums.
  • It’s useful for calculating an appropriate interest rate.

How Does the Face Value of a Share Matter to an Investor?

When it comes to investing, face value is one of the things that investors check out before making any commitment. This is because it helps them make the right decision. Moreover, looking at the face value of shares, you can get a better idea of how the company might do.

Face Value vs Market Value

The market values of a stock or bond differ from their face values. What happens to the market value depends on the forces of supply and demand, which are usually expressed as the dollar amount at which buyers and sellers are willing to trade. Depending on this interaction, there may not be a correlation between these two

A bond’s market price may be above or below par depending on interest rates relative to the bond’s coupon rate. If a bond has no interest payment attached to it, or a “zero coupon,” then the only way an investor can make money on the deal is if the bond is sold for less than its face value.

Is Face Value the Same As Par Value?

Technically, yes. Financial instruments’ face values are their initial dollar value. This can be in the form of stocks or bonds. Bonds have a face value, also called the “par value,” which is the amount the issuer will pay when the bond matures. The face value of a stock, on the other hand, is the initial price set by the issuer.

What Is the Difference Between Face Value and Market Value?

The issuer sets the face value of a stock, but market forces like supply and demand determine the market value. The market value of a stock, defined as the highest price at which it can be sold, can be vastly different from the stock’s IPO price. For instance, the face value of McDonald’s shares can be 0.0005 while their market value can go up to over $200 at any given time.

What Is the Difference Between Face Value and a Bond’s Price?

Bonds are typically issued in $1,000 denominations, which is their face value. On the other hand, its value changes as market interest rates, the amount of time left until maturity, and the issuer’s creditworthiness change. Based on these factors, the price of a bond could be above or below par. If interest rates rise, for instance, bond prices will fall, and they will trade below their face value on the secondary market.

When Does the Face Value Change?

Except in the case of a stock split, the face value of an instrument remains constant. A stock split is when a company gives existing shareholders more shares of stock, making the total number of shares outstanding go up. Stocks are divided into new shares during a stock split. In the case of a 2-for-1 stock split, for example, each shareholder will get an extra share of the company’s stock right away. To reflect this, the shares’ nominal value would shift.

Shares Certificates and Bonds Certificates

Shareholders are required by law to keep a certificate of ownership on file showing the number of shares they currently hold in a company or business. Certificates representing ownership of a company’s shares of stock are also known as “share certificates,” and the same goes for bonds. It gives one the right to exercise one’s ownership rights as an owner. This can range from voting to receiving dividend payments, and so on. A stock certificate may be issued either physically or digitally. The issuance of electronic shares has become increasingly popular as companies see the benefits of doing away with the paper certificates that were previously used.

What Is the Purpose of a Share Certificate?

A stock certificate is a physical evidence that an investor is the legal owner of shares in a corporation. In the form of a share certificate or stock certificate, proof of ownership is given. The certificate lists the number of shares owned.

What Is the Information On Share Certificates?

The following is the information on a share certificate;

  • Name and registration number for the company
  • Date shares were issued
  • Certificate identification number
  • Number of shares and their class
  • Shareholder’s identifying information (i.e., name and address)

What is a Bond Certificate?

A bond certificate is a legal document that tells the investor how much money the borrower owes and how that money will be paid back. The entity that issues a bond certificate is referred to as the issuer. This certificate is also meant to show that an investor is the owner of the debt that the issuer owes. 

What Is the Information On a Bond Certificate?

The bond certificate contains the agreement’s terms, which are as follows:

  • The issuer’s name
  • Date of repayment
  • A unique certificate identification number
  • Interest rate to be paid on the borrowed funds
  • The sum will be refunded to the investor. This is known as the face value

Face Values in Accounting

Financial instruments can either be sold at face value, at a discount, or for a premium. For example, when interest rates rise, the demand for the lower interest-paying bond will go down. Hence, the issuer will sell the bonds for a discount to make them more attractive.

Face Value of an Insurance Policy

Aside from financial instruments, face values are used across other sectors. For instance, face value is also used in life insurance.  The death benefit, or “face value,” of an insurance policy is the amount that will be paid out in the event of the insured’s death. A policy with a face value of $100 million, for instance, would pay out that exact amount in the event of the insured person’s death. The premiums you pay regularly or annually will increase in proportion to the face value of your policy. However, unlike financial instruments, the face values of an insurance policy can change. The change is traceable to a whole lot of factors but the following are some of these;

  • The cash value of a policy can exceed its face value if the policyholder meets the requirements of one or more riders or conditions.
  • Due to the policyholder’s withdrawal of funds, the policy’s face value may decrease if a loan is taken out against the policy.
  • The policy’s face value will increase if the cash value and interest accrued on it reach a certain threshold.


As said earlier, the stated or nominal dollar value that is declared by the issuer of a security is referred to as the “face value” of the security. When stocks were first issued, the only price at which they could be sold was their “face value,” which was an agreed-upon minimum price. When there was little information available, investors could rely on the stock’s face value as a single point of reference for their sense of security. The “face value” of a company’s first public stock offering shows how much the market is looking forward to that company. The face value of a bond is a significant contributor to the market value of that bond. It is essential to have a solid understanding of the relationship between the face value of the stock and its redemption value when dealing with stocks that pay dividends out of interest.

When talking about bonds, this term and the bond’s face value are frequently used synonymously with one another. The market value of a security, as opposed to its face value, refers to the security’s actual worth at any given time, as determined by the forces of the market such as supply and demand. On the secondary market, supply and demand are the two primary factors that influence bond prices. These factors also influence stock prices. When a bond reaches its maturity date, the investor will be paid the face value of the bond.


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