What is a Reverse Stock Split? And Why Is It Usually a Bad Thing For the Stock?
If you are currently holding shares of a company and they have just recently announced plans to institute a reverse split of their stock, then you probably want to seriously evaluate whether or not you will continue to hold that stock. A reverse stock split is a flashing red light and is normally a last ditch effort to try and prolong the life of a dying stock.
In most cases a company will institute a reverse split in order to maintain their listing on a stock exchange. For instance, in order for a stock to maintain its listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange, it must maintain a $1.00 per share minimum bid price requirement for a certain number of days. If the stock falls below the $1.00 threshold (I believe they take the average closing price for a 30 day period and average it out, but don't quote me on that) then the Nasdaq will send a notice to the company, warning of a possible delisting. A delisting is bad news for a company as it will mean a possible move to the pink sheets, which results in a loss of stature and a move into obscurity.
So in order to maintain this requirement, companies will often institute a reverse share split in order to increase the price of their stock. So, let's say that a company is trading at 50 cents per share and is in danger of losing their listing on the Nasdaq. They have the option of a reverse share split (and most will take this option) in order to raise the share price. So, let's say in this case, the company institutes a 1:5 reverse split. Suddenly there are 20% the shares outstanding that there were before, but the share price is 5 times higher. So suddenly the share price will be $2.50, and the Nasdaq will send the company a letter, telling them that they have regained compliance.
The question that you have to ask yourself is - why is this company trading for pennies in the first place? Surely this can't be a good sign. You know what, it hardly ever is. I read that stat recently that said that over 75% of stocks that institute a reverse split will end up trading lower. This stat sounds about right to me, based on my experience. Companies that institute reverse splits are normally dying on the vine and are about to be buried. It's like hooking up a brain-dead patient to a heart machine - you are normally just prolonging the life of the patient who has no chance of survival.
Sure, you can probably point me to a company that instituted a reverse split in order to maintain their listing and ended up flourishing. However, I could point you to a 100 more that are trading significantly below their reverse split levels. Trust me, it is usually not a good thing. The company usually have some major problems, and the stock is usually irreparably harmed.
If you are long and a company that you own has declared a reverse stock split, watch out. Ask yourself why you are in the stock and if any of the fundamental reasons for you holding the stock have changed. Don't just hold because you don't want to take a loss.
Filed under: Stock Market Education | General Knowledge
8 COMMENTS - What Say You?
Comment by Terry on October 02, 2009 @ 1:18 pm
Can a company perform a reverse stock split even if it has never performed a regular stock split? For example, say a company is trading at $0.75 and has never split their stock. Are they allowed to reverse split say 1 for 10 even though they have never gone from 10 to 1?
Comment by marge on November 05, 2009 @ 7:02 pm
I owned about 500 shares and after the reverse split I now own only 33 shares...how is this possible?
Comment by Dave on November 05, 2009 @ 10:33 pm
Which stock is this Marge? I will look into it for you..
Comment by Ray on November 19, 2009 @ 11:18 am
Good explanation about reverse split. Mind me asking a question: Could a reverse split be a catalyst for a company to take over or buy out another company?
Comment by Alberta Long on December 07, 2009 @ 4:21 pm
My deceased mother in law, Helen Long, assigned me her 166 shared of PetD stock. She herself did sign the stock over to me. I was unaware of this as I got all sorts of people want money from me to get this stock, when in all actuality, it was in my name to begin with. What I need to know, is the stock worth anything? I saw it was up to around #17 a share now. No.33272. Dated 1, 1983. Ali Long
Comment by gerald gaines on September 30, 2010 @ 5:57 am
i own over 5oo shares of yrcw stocks ,should i sell before or after they reverse stock
Comment by Heiress Stevens on December 07, 2010 @ 3:39 pm
I am trying to help my niece figure out her stock cost she has had serval stocks that have reverse split. There are fractions involved does in reverse does the company usually give cash for the fraction.
Comment by Andre on September 28, 2012 @ 7:07 pm
I have a 1000 share of a stock I bought for 1.25$
Company did a reverse stock split 1 to 5, now trading for 2.26$
Did my value of my date increase by 1.01$
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