Amazon.com Inc.’s flirtation with a $1,000 stock price is both good and bad for savvy investors.
“The price increase, up from around $68 a decade ago, reflects the company’s growth and dominance. But it also marks the latest example of a company letting its stock price rise without engaging in a “split” that boosts the number of shares in order to lower the per-share price,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s Class A shares also are now close to $1,000. Google shares closed Friday at $ 971.47 while Amazon shares finished at $ 995.78.
So far this year, only two S&P 500 companies have split their stock. In all of last year, six companies in the large-company index did, WSJ.com reported. That’s down sharply from 20 years ago, when 93 S&P 500 firms split their shares, a rate of close to two per week, according to Birinyi Associates.
After decades of mostly remaining in a range between $25 and $50, the average stock in the S&P 500 is now trading above $98, the highest ever, according to Birinyi Associates.
A big stock price is “a new way of calling attention to yourself,” said William C. Weld, a finance professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School who has studied stock splits. It used to be that splitting shares signaled reliability and stability, he said. “Companies now are saying ‘look at us, we’re tough and strong.’”
For its part, Amazon's ventures far beyond online retail, from cloud computing to movie making, are raising questions among corporate strategy experts about its focus.
The Seattle-based company wowed Wall Street recently with a 23 percent jump in sales, pushing its shares to an all-time high. But there are concerns that if blockbuster growth stops, investors may come to regard the company more like a conglomerate stock - worth less than the sum of its pieces, Reuters reported.
"High growth covers a lot of sins," said Harry Kraemer, a partner at private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners and a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
"Picture yourself running the company where one minute we're talking about how we're going to operate air cargo, and the next minute we're going to talk about artificial intelligence," he said. "I don’t think it's sustainable."
(Newsmax wire services and Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report).
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