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

Today, the value of a Microsoft share purchased at the IPO has risen more than 147,000%, including stock splits. Anupreeta Das And Juliet Chung, WSJ, "Old-Money Billionaires Are Chasing New Tech Riches," 3 Aug. 2018 One example of a reverse stock split that wasn’t all bad: Citigroup Inc.’s in 2011. Alexander Osipovich, WSJ, "Investors Find Blue Apron Split Hard to Digest," 14 June 2019 The company had until June 3 to regain compliance through a reverse stock split or boosting its share price. Marissa Luck, Houston Chronicle, "Camber Energy regains stock compliance; Pioneer Energy warned of delisting," 12 June 2019 Samsung Electronics shares, which underwent a 50-to-1 stock split in May, are down about 9% this year, as investors wonder how much staying power the recent memory-chip success will last. Timothy W. Martin, WSJ, "Samsung Electronics Posts Flat Second-Quarter Net Profit," 30 July 2018 That’s how long Korea Exchange staff need to complete Samsung’s coming 50-to-1 stock split, including a national holiday Tuesday. Fortune, "Want to Trade Samsung Stock Monday? You'll Just Have to Wait," 27 Apr. 2018 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

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.

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First Known Use of stock split

1950, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for stock split

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

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The first known use of stock split was in 1950

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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.

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