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.