1

Is the hyphen always necessary in "Joint-Stock Company", or is it a matter of taste? May usage vary from company to company?

Ngram gives this:

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2

It's a matter of taste, really. Sometimes, they are absolutely necessary to avoid confusion, but this is not the case here. Personally, I like hyphens and always use them if it will improve readability. Of course, if you write for a living, then you may well have style guides to follow.

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