stock split


Definition of stock split

: a division of corporate stock by the issuing to existing shareholders of a specified number of new shares with a corresponding lowering of par value for each outstanding share — compare stock dividend

Examples of stock split in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

After four stock splits, that comes to a cost basis of just under 40 cents. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "This Vintage Investment in Apple Paid Off," 29 Aug. 2018 In October 2017, the company’s stock topped $8,000, but that was before a 1-for-250 reverse stock split, which occurred in July. Micah Maidenberg, WSJ, "MoviePass Sheds Subscribers as Owner’s Troubles Mount," 15 Nov. 2018 The move, a stock split, was designed to keep the company from being delisted from the Nasdaq because of how low its shares had already fallen. Aja Romano, Vox, "MoviePass briefly stopped working — because it ran out of money," 27 July 2018 In late June, Helios and Matheson proposed doing a one-time reverse stock split, which analysts saw as a way to bolster its stock price. Sarah Toy And Emily Bary, WSJ, "The Spectacular Rise and Fall of MoviePass," 9 July 2018 Korea Exchange said in a statement the bourse plans to improve its systems to become more like the U.S. and Japan, where little time is needed for stock splits. Fortune, "Want to Trade Samsung Stock Monday? You'll Just Have to Wait," 27 Apr. 2018 After the stock split and paying a regular quarterly dividend, the company also will pay a $1 special cash dividend to stockholders of record on April 2. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "Brown-Forman is using tax cut money to create a massive foundation and pay shareholders," 24 Jan. 2018 The sale could potentially drop the trust below a stock threshold that allows the trust to hold a board seat, but Dziczek noted some confusion on that end because of a stock split several years ago. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Why is UAW retiree health care trust selling $1.57 billion worth of GM stock?," 28 Feb. 2018 On the other hand, an investor could argue that a fork is not immediately taxable in the same way a stock split is not taxable until shares are sold, said San Francisco tax lawyer Robert Wood. Kathleen Pender, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bitcoin taxes: plenty of questions, no easy answers," 10 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stock split.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of stock split

1950, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about stock split

Share stock split

Statistics for stock split

Last Updated

6 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stock split

The first known use of stock split was in 1950

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for stock split

stock split


Financial Definition of stock split

What It Is

A stock split is a procedure that increases or decreases a corporation's total number of shares outstanding without altering the firm's market value or the proportionate ownership interest of existing shareholders. This action, which requires advance approval from the company's board of directors, usually involves the issuance of additional shares to existing stockholders.

How It Works

Before announcing a stock split, a firm's board of directors must first decide on a distribution rate. Typically expressed as a ratio (such as 2-for-1, 3-for-1, etc...), this distribution rate will determine exactly how many shares of stock the firm hands over to its existing shareholders.

Let's assume XYZ Corp, which has two million shares outstanding, is trading for $30. In this case, the firm's total market value, or market capitalization, is $60 million (2 million x $30/share). After a two-for-one stock split, the firm's number of shares will double to four million, while the value of those shares will be cut in half to $15. However, the company's total market capitalization will remain the same at just $60 million (4 million* $15/share).

Taken from another perspective, let's suppose you held 100 shares of XYZ before the split. Prior to the split this total position would have been worth $3,000 (100*$30/share). After the split takes place you will then hold twice as many shares (200 shares), but the firm's share price will be cut in half to $15. The net value of your position will remain unchanged at $3,000 (200*$15/share).

In the end, splits accomplish little more than simply slicing a pie into thinner pieces. Though an investor may acquire more of those slices, or shares, after a split, neither the company's value nor his/her ownership interest will materially change.

Why It Matters

If the net effect to current shareholders is zero, then why do companies choose to split their stock? Typically, a firm's board of directors decides to split its stock in an effort to reduce its share price. After all, high prices can act as a deterrent to prospective buyers -- particularly smaller ones. A stock split will reduce a company's share price to a level that is hopefully seen as more affordable to a broader range of investors.

The point at which management decides to institute a split is also fairly arbitrary, as some companies routinely split their stocks at $50/share, while others may wait until prices exceed $100. Some firms, such as Wal-Mart (WMT), have historically split their shares frequently. Meanwhile, others have done so sparingly. Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa), run by famed investor Warren Buffett, has never completed a stock split. As a result, the company's shares now trade for tens of thousands of dollars each.

Certainly, most companies prefer that to keep their share prices at a much more affordable level. The goal here is to make their stock accessible to as many investors as possible. Of course, companies also do not want their shares at the other extreme either. When a company's shares languish in so-called "penny stock" range, trading for only a few dollars per share (or even less in many cases), they usually fall below the radar screens of institutional investors. Not only will the company likely lose analyst coverage, but if its share price falls too far the firm might also run the risk of being de-listed from whatever exchange it is traded on. (Most exchanges have certain share price requirements that companies must meet in order to stay listed.) Troubled firms stuck in this position will sometimes employ a reverse split. Though the move will not increase the company's overall value by a single penny, it will lift the firm's shares to what is generally regarded a more respectable price range.

Source: Investing Answers

stock split


Legal Definition of stock split

: the division of the outstanding shares of a corporation into a larger number of shares thereby reducing the value of each share but not the total value of each holding — compare reverse stock split

Note: The purpose of a stock split is to make the stock more attractive to potential investors by reducing the price per share.

More from Merriam-Webster on stock split

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stock split

Comments on stock split

What made you want to look up stock split? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


excited commotion or publicity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!