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American Depositary Receipt (ADR)

American Depositary Receipt (ADR)

What Is an American Depositary Receipt (ADR)?

The term American depositary receipt (ADR) alludes to a negotiable certificate issued by a U.S. depositary bank addressing a predefined number of shares โ€” normally one share โ€” of a foreign company's stock. The ADR trades on U.S. stock markets as any domestic shares would. ADRs offer U.S. investors a method for purchasing stock in overseas companies that doesn't otherwise sound accessible. Foreign firms additionally benefit, as ADRs empower them to attract American investors and capital without the problem and expense of listing on U.S. stock exchanges.

How American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) Work

American depositary receipts are designated in U.S. dollars. The underlying security is held by a U.S. financial institution, frequently by an overseas branch. ADR holders don't need to transact the trade in the foreign currency or worry about trading currency on the forex market. These securities are priced and traded in dollars and cleared through U.S. settlement systems.

To start offering ADRs, a U.S. bank must purchase shares on a foreign exchange. The bank holds the stock as inventory and issues an ADR for domestic trading. ADRs list on either the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or the Nasdaq, however they are likewise sold over-the-counter (OTC).

U.S. banks expect that foreign companies furnish them with nitty gritty financial data. This requirement makes it simpler for American investors to evaluate a company's financial wellbeing.

Types of American Depositary Receipts

American depositary receipts come in two fundamental categories:

  • A bank issues a sponsored ADR for the benefit of the foreign company. The bank and the business go into a legal arrangement. The foreign company generally pays the costs of giving an ADR and holds control over it, while the bank handles the transactions with investors. Sponsored ADRs are arranged by what degree the foreign company consents to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations and American accounting procedures.
  • A bank likewise issues a unsponsored ADR. Be that as it may, this certificate has no direct inclusion, participation, or even permission from the foreign company. Theoretically, there could be several unsponsored ADRs for a similar foreign company, issued by various U.S. banks. These various offerings may likewise offer changing dividends. With sponsored programs, there is just a single ADR, issued by the bank working with the foreign company.

One primary difference between the two types of ADRs is where they trade. All aside from the lowest level of sponsored ADRs register with the SEC and trade on major U.S. stock exchanges. Unsponsored ADRs will trade just over the counter. Unsponsored ADRs never incorporate voting rights.


The number of ADRs accessible, which address companies from in excess of 70 unique countries.

ADR Levels

ADRs are furthermore arranged into three levels, contingent upon the degree to which the foreign company has accessed the U.S. markets.

  • Level I: This is the most essential type of ADR where foreign companies either don't qualify or don't have any desire to have their ADR listed on an exchange. This type of ADR can be utilized to lay out a trading presence yet not to raise capital. Level I ADRs found exclusively on the over-the-counter market have the loosest requirements from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and they are ordinarily highly speculative. While they are riskier for investors than other types of ADRs, they are a simple and cheap way for a foreign company to measure the level of U.S. investor interest in its securities.
  • Level II: As with Level I ADRs, Level II ADRs can be utilized to lay out a trading presence on a stock exchange, and they can't be utilized to raise capital. Level II ADRs have somewhat a bigger number of requirements from the SEC than do Level I ADRs, however they get higher visibility and trading volume.
  • Level III: Level III ADRs are the most renowned. With these, an issuer drifts a public offering of ADRs on a U.S. exchange. They can be utilized to lay out a substantial trading presence in the U.S. financial markets and raise capital for the foreign issuer. Issuers are subject to full reporting with the SEC.

American Depositary Receipt Pricing and Costs

An ADR might address the underlying shares on a one-for-one basis, a fraction of a share, or numerous shares of the underlying company. The depositary bank will set the ratio of U.S. ADRs per home-country share at a value that they feel will appeal to investors. Assuming an ADR's value is too high, it might deflect a few investors. On the other hand, assuming it is too low, investors might think the underlying securities look like riskier penny stocks.

As a result of arbitrage, an ADR's price closely tracks that of the company's stock on its home exchange. Recollect that arbitrage is buying and selling similar asset simultaneously in various markets. This allows traders to profit from any differences in the asset's listed price.

Holders of ADRs understand any dividends and capital gains in U.S. dollars. Notwithstanding, dividend payments are net of currency conversion expenses and foreign taxes. Generally, the bank consequently keeps the essential amount to cover expenses and foreign taxes. Since this is the practice, American investors would have to look for a credit from the IRS or a refund from the foreign government's taxing authority to keep away from double taxation on any capital gains realized.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of American Depositary Receipts

Likewise with any investment, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages of investing in ADRs. We've listed a portion of the fundamental ones below.


As indicated above, ADRs are just similar to stocks. This means they trade on a stock exchange or over the counter, making them genuinely simple to access and trade. Investors can likewise effectively follow their performance by exploring market data.

Purchasing ADRs is simple since they're accessible directly through American brokers. This disposes of the need to use foreign procedures to buy stock in a company in which you might be interested. What's more, since they're accessible domestically, shares are denominated in U.S. dollars, and that means you keep away from any direct risks associated with vacillations in currency rates.

One of the clearest benefits of investing in ADRs is that they give investors a method for expanding their portfolios. Investing in international securities allows you to free your investment portfolio up to greater rewards (alongside the risks).


The principal issues associated with ADRs are that they might include double taxation โ€” locally and abroad โ€” and the number of companies that are listed. Dissimilar to domestic companies, there are a limited number of foreign substances whose ADRs are listed for the public to trade.

As verified over, some ADRs may not consent to SEC regulations. These are called unsponsored ADRs, which have no direct association by the company. In fact, a companies may not even give permission to list their shares along these lines.

In spite of the fact that investors can stay away from any of the direct risks that accompany currency exchange, they might bring about currency conversion fees when they invest in ADRs. These fees are laid out to connect the foreign security and the one traded on the domestic market directly.


  • Easy to track and trade

  • Available through U.S. brokers

  • Denominated in dollars

  • Offer portfolio diversification


  • Could face double taxation

  • Limited selection of companies

  • Unsponsored ADRs may not be SEC-compliant

  • Investor's may incur currency conversion fees

## History of American Depositary Receipts

Before American depositary receipts were presented during the 1920s, American investors who wanted shares of a non-U.S. listed company could do as such on international exchanges โ€” an unreasonable option for the average person in those days.

While simpler in the contemporary digital age, there are still drawbacks to purchasing shares on international exchanges. One especially overwhelming road obstruction is currency exchange issues. Another important drawback is the regulatory differences between U.S. also, foreign exchanges.

Before investing in an internationally traded company, U.S. investors need to really get to know the different financial authority's regulations, or they could risk misconception important data, for example, the company's financials. They could likewise have to set up a foreign account, as not all domestic brokers can trade internationally.

ADRs were developed due to the intricacies engaged with buying shares in foreign countries and the troubles associated with trading at various prices and currency values. J.P. Morgan's (JPM) ancestor firm Guaranty Trust spearheaded the ADR concept. In 1927, it made and sent off the first ADR, empowering U.S. investors to buy shares of renowned British retailer Selfridges and assisting the luxury with leaving store tap into global markets. The ADR was listed on the New York Curb Exchange.

A couple of years after the fact, in 1931, the bank presented the first sponsored ADR for British music company Electrical and Musical Industries (otherwise called EMI), the eventual home of the Beatles. Today, J.P. Morgan and BNY Mellon, another U.S. bank, keep on being actively engaged with the ADR markets.

Genuine Example of ADRs

Somewhere in the range of 1988 and 2018, German vehicle manufacturer Volkswagen AG traded OTC in the U.S. as a sponsored ADR under the ticker VLKAY. In August 2018, Volkswagen terminated its ADR program. The next day, J.P. Morgan laid out an unsponsored ADR for Volkswagen, presently trading under the ticker VWAGY.

Investors who held the old VLKAY ADRs had the option of cashing out, trading the ADRs for actual shares of Volkswagen stock โ€” trading on German exchanges โ€” or trading them for the new VWAGY ADRs.


  • These certificates trade on American stock exchanges.
  • These investments might free investors up to double taxation and there are a limited number of options accessible.
  • ADRs address a simple, liquid way for U.S. investors to claim foreign stocks.
  • ADRs and their dividends are priced in U.S. dollars.
  • An American depositary receipt is a certificate issued by a U.S. bank that addresses shares in foreign stock.


On the off chance that I Own an ADR Is It the Same as Owning Shares in the Company?

Not exactly. ADRs are U.S. dollar-designated certificates that trade on American stock exchanges and track the price of a foreign company's domestic shares. ADRs address the prices of those shares, yet don't actually grant you ownership rights as common stock regularly does. Some ADRs pay dividends and might be issued at different ratios. The most common ratio is 1:1 where each ADR addresses one common share of the company.If an ADR is listed on an exchange, you can buy and sell it through your broker like some other share. Along these lines, and since they are priced in U.S. dollars, ADRs allow American investors a method for differentiating their portfolios geologically without opening overseas accounts or dealing with foreign currency exchange and taxes.

For what reason Do Foreign Companies List ADRs?

Foreign companies frequently look to have their shares traded on U.S. exchanges through ADRs to get greater visibility in the international market, access to a bigger pool of investors, and coverage by greater equity analysts. Companies that issue ADRs may likewise find it simpler to fund-raise in international markets when their ADRs are listed in U.S. markets.

What Is a Sponsored versus an Unsponsored ADR?

All ADRs are required to have a U.S. investment bank act as their depositary bank. The depositary bank is the institution that issues ADRs, keeps a record of the holders of ADRs, registers the trades carried out, and conveys the dividends or interest on shareholders' equity payments in dollars to ADR holders.In a sponsored ADR, the depositary bank works with the foreign company and their custodian bank in their nation of origin to register and issue the ADRs. An unsponsored ADR is rather issued by a depositary bank without the contribution, participation, or even the consent of the foreign company it addresses ownership in. Unsponsored ADRs are regularly issued by broker-sellers that own common stock in a foreign company and trade over-the-counter. Sponsored ADRs are all the more commonly found on exchanges.

Is an ADR the Same as an American Depositary Share (ADS)?

American depositary shares (ADSs) are the actual underlying shares that the ADR addresses. In other words, the ADS is the actual share accessible for trading, while the ADR addresses the whole bundle of ADSs issued.

What Is the Difference Between an ADR and a GDR?

ADRs give a listing to foreign shares in a single market. U.S. Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs), then again, give access to at least two markets (most often the U.S. what's more, Euro markets) with one fungible security. GDRs are most commonly utilized when the issuer brings capital up in the neighborhood market as well as in the international and U.S. markets. This should be possible either through private placement or public offerings.