To begin, it may pay to define what a stock split is: A stock split is a simple mechanism that a listed company can employ to increase the number of issued shares while keeping its market capitalisation/ valuation the same.
There are a couple of reasons a company may elect to perform a stock split, the chief among them is to increase the liquidity (or accessibility/ tradability) of their stock.
The most popular stock split ratios are 2:1, 3:2, and 3:1. By way of example, if a hypothetical company were to perform a 3-for-1 stock split, its shareholders would be issued an additional two shares for every share they owned before the split. In conjunction with the split, the value of each share would be devalued to 1/3 of its pre-split value. Effectively, the total value of three shares after the stock split should be worth the same value as one share before the stock split.
A reverse stock split is when a company reduces the number of shares available while keeping its market capitalisation/ valuation the same. A company cannot simply remove shares as easily as it can issue new shares. Therefore, with a reverse stock split, a company is forced to revoke all existing shares and issue new shares, proportional to the reduction that the company is pursuing.
A primary reason a company performs a reverse stock split is to avoid being delisted from its stock exchange which may have set minimum share-price conditions on its listees.
Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) performed a 5:1 split of its stock in August 2020. At the time, TSLA shares were trading above US $1,300. Tesla CEO Elon Musk believed the EV Company’s shares were too expensive for retail investors, so he reduced its price via a stock split.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has been a serial stock splitter. Since listing on the Nasdaq in 1986, The Software Company has performed nine stock splits, the last occurring in 2003. Consequently, 100 MSFT shares in 1986 would now total approximately 30,000 shares.
The beleaguered General Electric (NYSE:GE) performed a 1:8 reverse stock split in July 2021. Before the reverse stock split, GE shares were teetering around US $12. The reverse stock split meant that GE shares began trading above US $100 per share, a threshold not crossed for a very long time.
Indices across the board sold off today, making it the 5th session in decline as many investors and traders take high valuations as a good time to take profits.
We have seen Stocks rally in an environment where money is cheap, 1 Trillion dollars of fiscal policy for the United States is not enough, and where the Federal Reserve is buying back 120 Billion Dollars’ worth of bonds every month. Pair this influx of liquidity with many investors and traders being able to save due to lockdowns across the world, and you have yourself a buoyant asset market. And it seems like we will be living in this environment for the foreseeable future.
Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell signaled that it would continue to keep monetary policy loose and their bond buyback scheme consistent. With that said, he signals a positive outlook for the U.S economy in 2021. A question on whether rising treasury yields signals an improving economy, Powell replied, “In a way, it’s a statement of confidence on the part of the market that we will have a robust and ultimately complete recovery.” This is interesting as an optimistic viewpoint from the Fed may signal that they may tamper accommodative policies in the near term
However, some analysts are wary about the Fed portraying too much optimism. Steve Friedman, senior macroeconomist at MacKay Shields, stated that “We’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to the virus, and the economy also remains quite far from a full recovery.”
What are you looking at in the markets?