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Free-Float Methodology


Free-Float Methodology is a system of calculating a company’s market capitalization based on freely traded shares, excluding locked-in shares such as those held by company insiders, promoters, and governments. This method provides a more accurate reflection of the company’s market value available for public trading. It is commonly used by stock indices to determine a company’s weightage in the index.


Free-Float Methodology: /ˈfriːˈfloʊt ˌmɛθəˈdɒlədʒi/

Key Takeaways

  1. Free-Float Methodology is used by most of the global indices as a means of calculating the market capitalization of publicly traded companies. It considers only those shares that are readily available for trading in the market, excluding locked-in shares such as those held by promoters and governments.
  2. This method allows for a more accurate reflection of the market movements and stock value, as it accounts for only those shares that are likely to influence the price, ensuring a better market representation. Also, this method facilitates a more active and fair trading environment by minimizing price manipulations.
  3. The adoption of Free-Float Methodology can attract greater foreign investments. Global index providers, such as MSCI and S&P, use this method, therefore, adhering to the same standard improves comparability and transparency, making companies more attractive to foreign investors.


Free-float methodology is an essential concept in business and finance as it reflects the real market scenario in terms of a company’s market capitalization. It only accounts for those shares readily available in the market for trading, thus excluding locked-in shares held by promoters, government, or other entities that aren’t accessible for public trading. Free-float methodology provides a more accurate representation of market volatility and liquidity. It assists investors in making informed decisions by offering a precise valuation of a company. Moreover, indices that use a free-float methodology are more suitable for benchmarking and used extensively for creating index funds and ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds).


The free-float methodology is primarily used for the purpose of calculating the market capitalization of a publicly traded company. Rather than considering all shares of the company, the free-float methodology only takes into account those shares that are readily available for trading in the open market. Essentially, it does not include shares that have restrictions or limitations on their trade, such as those held by government, promoters, and other locked-in shares. This approach provides a more accurate reflection of the company’s market value because it only factors in the stocks that can be bought and sold by the general investing public.A key application of the free-float methodology is in the construction of stock market indices. Most global indices, including prominent ones like S&P 500 and the FTSE 100, use the free-float method. The rationale is that these indices aim to reflect the market conditions that an average trader experiences, making the free-float methodology most suitable. When index components are weighted based on their free-float market capitalization, it ensures that the influence of each stock proportionately represents its accessibility and relevance in the stock market. By doing so, the index becomes a more reliable indicator of market trends, giving investors and financial analysts a true picture of market movements and overall economic conditions.


1. S&P Dow Jones Indices: This prominent index provider uses free-float methodology to calculate the S&P 500, Dow Jones, and several other major indices. The S&P 500 Index, one of the most widely followed equity indices in the world, is determined based on the free-float market capitalization of 500 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States. Any stocks that are not freely tradable, such as those held by promoters and governments, are not included in the calculation.2. FTSE Russell: FTSE Russell, the global index provider, uses the free-float methodology for their FTSE 100 Index. This index represents the 100 largest UK companies by full market value. For the purpose of the index, the market value is calculated considering only the shares that are readily available on the market, leaving out long-term holdings of founders, governments, or other companies.3. MSCI: MSCI is a leading provider of critical decision support tools and services for the global investment community. Its indices, such as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which captures large and mid cap representation across 27 Emerging Markets (EM) countries, are calculated using free-float methodology. This method means that only the value of shares that are readily available for trading in the market are counted. Those held by governments or other entities with controlling interests that cannot be freely traded on the market are excluded.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Free-Float Methodology?

Free-Float Methodology is a way of calculating the market capitalization of a publicly traded company. This method only considers the company’s shares which are readily available for trading in the public market.

How is Free-Float Methodology calculated?

It’s calculated by multiplying the company’s share price by the number of shares readily available in the market. It doesn’t include locked-in stocks, such as those held by promoters and government.

Why is Free-Float Methodology important in finance and business?

This methodology provides a more accurate reflection of the firm’s market value that’s available for trading, thus it’s often used in constructing stock indices. It also prevents manipulation due to large shareholders.

How does the Free-Float Methodology affect a company’s market cap?

Under the Free-Float Methodology, a company’s market cap is often lower than its overall market cap due to exclusion of locked-in stocks.

Do all stock indices use the Free-Float Methodology?

No. While many major stock indices like S&P 500 and FTSE use this methodology, some other indices don’t.

Can the Free-Float Methodology change over time?

Yes. The Free-Float can change over time if there are changes in the number of shares available for public trading. This might be due to share buybacks, issuing new shares, or changes in shareholding of the promoters or government.

What is the benefit for investors by using Free-Float Methodology?

The Free-Float Methodology benefits investors as it allows a more accurate reflection of the share’s demand and supply, providing a more accurate market valuation.

Related Finance Terms

  • Market Capitalization: This term refers to the total market value of a company’s outstanding shares of stock. It is used in the Free-Float Methodology to determine the weighting of companies in an index.
  • Outstanding Shares: These are shares of a company that have been issued and are in the hands of the public. They are important for the Free-Float Methodology as they indicate the number of shares that are available for trading in the market.
  • Non-Tradable Shares: These are shares held by insiders or government that cannot be sold or traded. These do not count towards the free-float market capitalization.
  • Index: This refers to a statistical measure of change in a securities market. The Free-Float Methodology is often used in the construction of stock market indices.
  • Equity: This refers to ownership interest in a corporation in the form of stock. The Free-Float Methodology focuses on the portion of equity available for public trading.

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