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The first is a designation for a 'class' of common or preferred stock. A shares of common or preferred stock typically have enhanced voting rights or other benefits compared to the other forms of shares that may have been created. The equity structure, or how many types of shares are offered, is determined by the corporate charter.
The second meaning is a relatively standard way of pricing sales charges (loads) on mutual funds in the United States. In an A share, the sales load is up front, typically at most 5.75% of the amount invested. In contrast is the B share that does not have an upfront charge, but instead has higher ongoing expenses in the form of a higher 12B-1 fee, and a contingent deferred sales charge that only applies if the investor redeems shares before a specified period. The maximum A share sales load is decreased for larger investment amounts as a volume discount.
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