When Do Stocks Split?

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when do stocks split

When discussing the stock market, one topic that often arises is stock splits. At its core, a stock split is a decision made by a company’s board of directors to increase the number of outstanding shares by issuing more shares to existing shareholders. This action helps boost liquidity and make shares more accessible to a wider range of investors without affecting the overall market capitalization of the company.

Stock splits can occur at varying times, depending on the company and its current market valuation. Factors influencing the timing of stock splits may include stock price, trading volume, and overall market conditions. Companies may decide to split their stock when the share price becomes too high for the majority of small investors, or when they believe the stock price has reached a level that could lead to increased market interest.

Key Takeaways

  • Stock splits are decisions made by a company’s board to increase outstanding shares and improve liquidity.
  • The timing of stock splits depends on various factors such as stock price, trading volume, and market conditions.
  • Companies may opt for stock splits when share prices become too high for small investors or to garner increased market interest.

Understanding Stock Splits

Stock splits are corporate actions decided by a company’s board of directors to change the number of outstanding shares. This can be done through either a forward stock split or a reverse stock split, and the process impacts the value of each share and the total number of shares available for trading.

Forward Stock Split

A forward stock split, or simply a stock split, is when a company increases the number of outstanding shares by issuing more shares to current shareholders. This is typically done by dividing each share into multiple shares, based on a predetermined split ratio (e.g., 2-for-1 or 3-for-1). In a 2-for-1 stock split, for example, a shareholder with 100 shares would end up with 200 shares after the split, but the value of their investment remains the same.

The primary reason for a forward stock split is to make the shares more accessible to individual investors by reducing the stock price, as the increased number of shares leads to a decrease in price per share. This can potentially attract new investors while still maintaining existing shareholders’ confidence, as the overall value of their investment remains unchanged.

Reverse Stock Split

A reverse stock split, on the other hand, is when a company decreases the number of outstanding shares in order to increase the price of each share. This can be achieved by consolidating existing shares into a smaller number, also based on a predetermined split ratio (e.g., 1-for-2 or 1-for-5). In a 1-for-2 reverse stock split, a shareholder with 100 shares would end up with 50 shares after the split, but the value of their investment remains the same.

Companies often choose to enact a reverse stock split when shares fall below a certain threshold or to meet the listing requirements of a stock exchange. While a reverse stock split does not alter the overall value of an investor’s portfolio, it can help improve the stock’s perception in the market and prevent negative connotations associated with low-priced shares.

Understanding stock splits, both forward and reverse, is important for investors to anticipate how these actions can affect their investment portfolio. It’s crucial to remember that although the number of shares and price per share may change due to a stock split, the overall value of an investment remains the same.

Reasons for Stock Splits

Psychological Appeal

One of the primary reasons companies opt for stock splits is to create a psychological appeal for investors. A lower share price can make the stock seem more affordable, potentially attracting a broader range of investors. For example, if a stock is trading at $100 per share, it might appear out of reach for some investors. By implementing a 2-for-1 stock split, the share price is reduced to $50, while the number of shares held by shareholders doubles. This can create the perception of affordability, even though the value of the investment remains the same.

Increased Liquidity

Stock splits can also lead to increased liquidity in the market. When the number of outstanding shares increases and the share price decreases, it usually becomes easier for investors to buy and sell shares. Greater liquidity can lead to more efficient price discovery and potentially lower the bid-ask spread, which benefits shareholders.

For instance, a higher number of shares can translate to more demand, fueling trading activity and liquidity. Enhanced liquidity can also lessen the price impact of large trades, thus reducing the risk for investors when entering or exiting a position.

In summary, stock splits serve to make shares more attractive to a wider range of investors through psychological appeal and increased liquidity. By reducing the share price while increasing the number of outstanding shares, companies can effectively stimulate demand and facilitate shareholder transactions.

Factors Influencing Stock Splits

Company Growth

One primary factor that influences when and if a stock might split is the company’s growth. As a business experiences growth, its stock price often increases, and when the price reaches a certain threshold, the board of directors may consider performing a stock split. By doing a stock split, the company makes shares more accessible to new investors since the stock price becomes more affordable.

company growth

It is essential to note that stock splits typically reflect positive growth, but they do not inherently indicate the stock’s future performance. The stock’s value is still tied to the company’s overall performance and market sentiment. However, a stock split can send a signal of confidence to the market, demonstrating that the company’s board of directors believes the stock price will continue to grow.

Market Capitalization

Market capitalization, or the total value of a company’s outstanding shares, is another crucial factor in determining whether a stock will split. While a stock split does not alter the company’s overall market capitalization, it does affect the number of shares outstanding and their price.

When a company’s market capitalization grows significantly, it typically means that the stock price has risen as well. The board of directors may consider a stock split when they feel the stock’s price has become too high, preventing smaller investors from purchasing shares.

In conclusion, stock splits can be influenced by factors such as company growth and market capitalization. Though stock splits do not inherently change the value of a company, they can impact the accessibility of shares for new investors and send signals of confidence to the market.

Notable Stock Splits


Apple has a history of stock splits, with the most recent one occurring on August 31, 2020. At that time, the company implemented a 4-for-1 split, lowering the individual share price while increasing the overall number of shares available for trading. Prior to this, Apple also had stock splits in 1987, 2000, and 2014. These splits have made the company’s shares more accessible to a wider range of investors, contributing to its market success.

apple stock split


Tesla is another prominent company that has experienced a stock split. In June 2022, the electric vehicle manufacturer announced a 3-for-1 stock split, with shares trading on a split-adjusted basis beginning on August 25, 2022. Tesla’s stock split allowed more investors to afford the shares, boosting its overall market value and enhancing its reputation as an innovative leader in the emerging electric vehicle industry.


Though Amazon has not split its stock as frequently as Apple or Tesla, it still deserves a mention for its split history. The e-commerce giant carried out three stock splits in the late 1990s: a 2-for-1 split in 1998, followed by two 3-for-1 splits in 1999. Since then, Amazon’s share price has experienced significant growth, making it a sought-after investment for those who believe in the company’s vision and growth potential.


Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has had one stock split in its history. This took place on April 3, 2014, when the company implemented a 2-for-1 split. The purpose of this split was to create a new class of non-voting shares (Class C) alongside the original Class A shares. While this split did not necessarily make the stock more affordable like the other examples listed, it still represents a significant event in the company’s corporate governance history.

The Impact of Stock Splits

Ownership Stake

A stock split is an act by a company’s board of directors to increase the number of outstanding shares while lowering the share price. This can make the stock more affordable and attainable to a broader range of investors, particularly retail investors. This event does not impact the underlying value of an investment, as the total market capitalization remains the same. The ownership stake of investors in the company also does not change, since the proportion of shares held by each investor remains the same after the split.

Financial Ratios

Stock splits can influence financial ratios, which are commonly used by investors to analyze a company’s performance. While the overall revenues and company value remain the same, the lower share price and increased number of outstanding shares can impact key ratios, such as:

  • Earnings per share (EPS): After a stock split, the earnings for each share decrease, as they are now divided among a greater number of shares. However, the overall earnings for the company are unchanged.
  • Price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio: The P/E ratio is calculated by dividing the market price of a share by its earnings per share. Due to the decrease in EPS, the P/E ratio decreases after a stock split, making the stock appear more attractive to potential investors.
  • Dividend yield: Dividends are generally declared on a per-share basis. When a stock split occurs, the dividend per share will be adjusted accordingly, resulting in an unchanged overall dividend yield.

In summary, stock splits can have varying effects on a company’s financial ratios without altering the underlying value, revenues, or ownership stake of investors. The intention is to increase trading liquidity and make shares more accessible to a wider range of investors, including retail investors.

Reverse Stock Splits and Delisting

Delisting Process

A reverse stock split can sometimes be a signal that a company may face the risk of being delisted. Delisting is the process of removing a stock from a public exchange where it is traded. When a company cannot maintain the minimum requirements set by the exchange, such as maintaining a minimum stock price or market capitalization, the exchange may decide to delist the stock.

In some cases, companies undergo reverse stock splits before delisting occurs as a last-ditch effort to comply with the exchange’s requirements and continue trading. A reverse stock split is the opposite of a regular stock split, in which the number of outstanding shares are reduced, and the price per share increases. This is done by consolidating the existing shares of stock into fewer, higher-priced shares.

Effects on Shareholders

The impact of a reverse stock split on shareholders primarily depends on the stock split ratio. For example, a 1-for-10 reverse stock split would mean one new share would replace every ten existing shares.

While the overall process does not inherently change the total value of a shareholder’s investments, it can potentially signal a negative sentiment around the company’s financial health and growth prospects. Nvidia and Dexcom are examples of companies that may undergo reverse stock splits in an attempt to avoid delisting and continue trading.

Investors should carefully consider the implications of a reverse stock split on a company’s long-term value and potential for growth. Moreover, it is important to understand the delisting process to make informed decisions based on a company’s performance, market trends, and possible future outcomes.

Investor Prospects and Expectations

Growth Prospects

Investor prospects in companies that have experienced stock splits can be promising. For instance, significant tech companies like Amazon, Alphabet, and Tesla have undergone stock splits and demonstrated strong potential for revenue growth. When a company like Google’s parent Alphabet Inc. or Amazon.com Inc. decides to execute a 20-for-1 stock split, it increases the number of shares outstanding, making the stock more accessible to a larger number of investors. By doing so, the companies project confidence in their future growth and performance.

In cases like Tesla Inc., which underwent a 3-for-1 stock split, the shares began trading on a split-adjusted basis, subsequently experiencing an increase in value. Investors must remain diligent, however, considering each company’s unique circumstances and financial outlook when assessing growth potential post-split.

Cybersecurity Stocks

Cybersecurity stocks are among the trending sectors within the stock market, potentially benefiting from increased accessibility after undergoing stock splits. E-commerce giant Shopify is an example of a promising company within this sector. By observing companies’ ability to successfully execute a 2-for-1 stock split or even higher ratios, investors can gauge market sentiment and the potential for growth.

It is essential to thoroughly research and analyze a company’s financial position, revenue growth trends, and competitive stance within their respective sector. By doing so, investors can make informed decisions regarding post-split investments and expectations for future performance.


Stock splits occur when a company decides to increase the number of its outstanding shares by issuing more shares to existing shareholders. This process does not affect the company’s market capitalization but simply divides the shares into smaller units to make them more accessible and affordable to a broader range of investors.

When a company experiences significant growth, its share price may rise substantially, making it difficult for smaller investors to purchase the stock. In such instances, companies may choose to split their stock to lower the share price and attract more investors, thereby maintaining a healthy trading volume.

There are no fixed guidelines a company must follow when deciding to split its stock. Companies often announce stock splits when the management feels that the share price has reached a level that is too high for the average retail investor. By lowering the share price through a stock split, companies aim to increase overall market liquidity and maintain a steady flow of capital from investors.

In conclusion, stock splits are a significant corporate action taken by companies with high share prices. While it does not impact market capitalization or the intrinsic value of the company, stock splits can make the shares more affordable and accessible to a broader range of investors, ultimately contributing to the overall health of the stock’s trading market.

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