Split­ting Shares

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - PERSONAL FINANCE EXTRA -

Q Where can I look up a com­pany’s re­cent stock splits? — R.W., Bing­ham­ton, New York A A good place to start is with the com­pany itself. You can call its In­vestor Re­la­tions de­part­ment to ask, or you might ex­plore the “In­vestors” sec­tion of its web­site. If you’re on­line, head to

fi­nance.ya­hoo.com, en­ter the com­pany’s ticker sym­bol, and then click on “Sta­tis­tics.” Scroll down and you’ll find the com­pany’s last split and its date. You can also look up past and up­com­ing splits at fi­nance.ya­hoo.com/cal­en­dar.

Stock splits are gen­er­ally non­events, though. The share price gets ad­justed down in pro­por­tion to the in­crease in share count. So while sud­denly own­ing more shares can be ex­cit­ing, it’s not too mean­ing­ful. Pre-split, you might have owned 100 shares priced at $50 per share (to­tal value: $5,000). Post-split, your 200 shares are worth $25 each, for a to­tal of … $5,000. Not much has changed.

*** Q How much of a gain should I aim for when in­vest­ing in stocks? After how much should I sell? — P.L., De­catur, Illi­nois A As long as the com­pany re­mains healthy and grow­ing, con­sider just hang­ing on. Sure, you can al­ways sell after a gain of 10 per­cent or 50 per­cent, but by hang­ing on, you might even­tu­ally dou­ble or triple or quadru­ple your in­vest­ment — or do even bet­ter.

For ex­am­ple, if you bought into Net­flix at $10 per share in 2010 and sold after dou­bling your money a few months later, you would have missed out on fur­ther gains. The stock was re­cently at $170 per share.

Keep up with each hold­ing’s progress and prospects, and do sell when­ever you’ve lost faith in the com­pany — or if you will need that money within a few years.

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