Apple just announced its 5th stock split in history. Here's what that means — and how many shares you'd have if you bought one before its first split in 1987.

Apple CEO Tim CookREUTERS/Edgar Su
  • Apple on Thursday announced its fifth stock split in its history, as the iPhone maker's stock price marched to the $400 level.
  • Apple said a stock split would allow it to "appeal to a broader base of investors." The move will appeal to investors who have a difficult time buying a stock sporting a triple-digit price.
  • Apple said that on August 24, investors would receive three additional shares for every one share they owned, while the stock price would be divided by four, bringing it closer to $100.
  • Apple last split its stock in 2014, when it enacted a 7-for-1 split as its share price reached $700.
  • Here's how many shares an investor would own if they'd bought a single share before Apple's first stock split.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple will split its stock for the fifth time in its history, the iPhone maker said on Thursday after reporting strong earnings that beat analysts' estimates.

Apple said it would enact a 4-for-1 split on August 24, meaning that each share owned by an investor today will turn into four shares. At the same time, Apple's stock price will be quartered, from about $400 now to about $100 when the split happens.

Apple's dividend will also be quartered to reflect that share change once the split goes through.Advertisement

The stock split will have zero impact on Apple's fundamentals or market value but will help the stock "appeal to a broader base of investors," Apple said. A lower stock price can make buying shares easier to stomach for investors.

Read more: These 16 global stocks have at least 20% upside in the next year — and they'll continue to thrive as COVID-19 accelerates a crucial technological shift, UBS says

Apple enacted 2-for-1 stock splits in 1987, 2000, and 2005, as well as a 7-for-1 stock split in 2014. One share owned before Apple's first split in 1987 would turn into 224 shares next month once the split happens.
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While Apple has enacted stock splits, Amazon, which has seen its stock price rocket to above $3,000, has not done so in years. Some investors think a higher stock price attracts longer-term investors and discourages shorter-term traders, effectively reducing volatility.

But with fractional share investing available at nearly every brokerage firm, that thinking is likely obsolete — as is the thinking that a stock split would broaden the appeal of the stock to investors. Now anyone can invest as little as $5 into Apple or Amazon instead of having to commit to buying a full share. Read more: A Wall Street quant chief breaks down why a COVID-19 vaccine is not the silver bullet investors have been hoping for — and warns another stock-market meltdown is likelyAdvertisement

One sizable effect of the Apple stock split on the market is related to the Dow Jones industrial average, of which Apple is a member. The 30-company index is a price-weighted index, meaning its moves are based on the dollar move in the stock price, not the percentage move, as in other stock-market indexes.

Because Apple's stock price will decline to about $100 from about $400 once the split is enacted, moves in Apple shares will have less of an effect on moves in the Dow.

Apple is the highest-priced stock in the Dow, meaning a move in Apple has the biggest effect on a move in the Dow. Once Apple enacts its stock split, UnitedHealth will replace it as having the largest impact on the Dow.Advertisement

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