ADR (American Depository Receipts)

ADR, short for American Depository Receipts, refers to a financial instrument representing ownership in shares of foreign companies that are traded on U.S. stock exchanges. ADRs provide U.S. investors an opportunity to invest in foreign stocks without the need to directly purchase shares on international exchanges. ADRs are issued by U.S. banks and are denominated in U.S. dollars, making them easily accessible and tradable for domestic investors.


ADR serves as a convenient way for U.S. investors to gain exposure to foreign companies, diversify their portfolios, and take advantage of investment opportunities in global markets. With the growing trend of globalization and cross-border investments, ADRs have become increasingly popular and play a significant role in facilitating international investments.

ADRs function by a process known as depositary receipt programs. The issuing U.S. bank purchases shares of the foreign company in its home market, holds them in custody, and issues depositary receipts to the U.S. investors in return. Each ADR typically represents a specific number of foreign company shares, known as the ratio of ADR to underlying shares.

There are two main types of ADRs: sponsored and unsponsored. Sponsored ADRs are issued directly by the foreign company in coordination with a depositary bank, whereas unsponsored ADRs are issued by a U.S. bank without the involvement of the foreign company. Sponsored ADRs offer stronger investor protection and are subject to the regulatory requirements of both the issuing country and the United States, making them generally considered more desirable.

ADRs provide several advantages to both issuers and investors. For issuers, ADRs allow them to tap into the U.S. capital markets, enhance their visibility, and broaden their shareholder base. For investors, ADRs provide an opportunity to invest in foreign companies without the need for international trading accounts, currency conversion, or dealing with foreign market regulations. Additionally, ADRs are traded like regular stocks on U.S. exchanges, allowing investors to buy, sell, and short them easily.

Investing in ADRs comes with some considerations. It is important for investors to conduct thorough research on the foreign company, including its financial performance, market position, and regulatory environment. Financial disclosures by foreign companies may differ from those of U.S. companies, thus necessitating a comprehensive understanding of the accounting standards and reporting requirements specific to the issuing country. Additionally, foreign exchange rates and political risks can impact the value of ADRs, making it crucial for investors to carefully assess and manage such risks.

In conclusion, ADRs are a valuable financial tool that allows U.S. investors to participate in the performance of foreign companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges. As an essential channel for cross-border investments, ADRs offer accessibility, liquidity, and an avenue for diversification. However, investing in ADRs requires a thorough understanding of the underlying foreign companies, accounting practices, exchange rate dynamics, and geopolitical risks.

This glossary is made for freelancers and owners of small businesses. If you are looking for exact definitions you can find them in accounting textbooks.

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