In theory, a stock-split should do nothing for the market value of a company.
However, a lower stock price is thought to add liquidity to a stock by making it more easily tradable.
Also, it attracts smaller investors who may not be willing to buy a stock with a high share price.
In his new weekly market strategy note, Oppenheimer’s John Stoltzfus presents this chart of the number of S&P 500 stock splits per year since 1998.
“Even as the S&P 500 recently reached yet another nominal all-time high, companies have remained reluctant to split their stock as the market continues to trend higher for most of the year thus far,” notes Stoltzfus. “Stocks such as Priceline, Google, and MasterCard closed Friday at nominal high relative levels of $US940.07, $US856.91, and $US618.21, respectively.”
Stoltzfus believes this speaks to the nature of the market participants.
“The trend for three-digit priced stocks illustrates the dominance of institutions (including: hedge funds, mutual funds, pension funds, etc.) over private investors,” he said.