What Is Market Capitalization?

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Editorial Team

Updated on March 09, 2023

Market Capitalization is the aggregate dollar-value of all outstanding shares of a company's stock.

This means, if a company has 15 million shares of stock out in the public markets and each of those shares is valued at $10, then that company has a "market cap" of $150 million.

Market cap is the current "total value" of a public company in the eyes of the marketplace.

Market Cap Meaning

A company's market cap is the first way an investor assesses how "big" a company is.

There are traditionally five categories of market capitalization:

  • Mega-cap
  • Large-cap
  • Mid-cap
  • Small-cap
  • Micro-cap

Categories of Market Capitalization

Each category of market capitalization has its own characteristics associated with it.

Mega-cap companies are very mature companies that have established dominance in their industry.

These companies are generally "blue chip" stocks and viewed as "safe, steady" investments for long-term strategies.

Micro-cap companies, on the other hand, are typically young companies with little-to-no track record.

Although micro-cap stocks are considered to be volatile of the 5 categories, investors often allocate a percentage of their portfolio to micro-cap stocks because of their potential upside.

The Perception of Value

It is important to remember that a company's market cap may be different than the true economic worth of their assets and ability to generate profits—market cap can be viewed as what the markets perceive a company to be worth.

Consider More Data Points

Value investors like Warren Buffet, have built their careers by investing in companies that were more valuable than the market realized.

It's for this reason that market cap, as well as any other single data point, should not be viewed in isolation when assessing a company's value.

The size and value of a company can affect risk levels and returns when investing in its stocks.

The higher the value of market capitalization, the "bigger" companies are perceived.

Market Capitalization FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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