Reverse Stock Split

Reverse Stock Split Meaning

Reverse stock split refers to the process of boosting a company’s stock price by reducing the number of its outstanding shares. It is attained by combining some of the existing shares in the market and simultaneously raising their value in the same ratio.

Say a company has undertaken a reverse stock split in the ratio of 1:2. Consequently, every two of its shares will become 1, doubling the price of each share. It is a kind of stock restructuring that does not affect the market capitalization of the stock.

Reverse Stock Split

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Key Takeaways
  • A reverse stock split is a corporate stock restructuring strategy where they combine the shares, which raises the price of each share.
  • Say a company is consolidating its shares in the ratio of 1:2. Consequently, every two of its shares will become 1, doubling the price of each share.
  • It doesn’t impact the company’s market capitalization or corporate valuation.
  • Companies adopt this strategy to aviod getting delisted from the stock exchange (NYSE or NASDAQ) on non-adherence to the minimum $1 stock price criteria.
  • The consent of shareholders is essential for reverse splitting.

How Does a Reverse Stock Split Work?

Listed companies conduct many procedures to enhance their market standing and profitability. The higher the share price, the more profit a business attracts. There are thriving stock market performers such as Amazon with its $3000 plus per-share price in a Covid-19 struck 2021.

Often, shares that are trading at such a high price witness a split to form new ones known as stock splitting. The primary reason for splitting a share into new ones is to lower its cost. It enhances its affordability to potential investors.

On the other hand, companies use reverse stock split to inflate the per-share value when their stock price is constantly falling. In a 1-for-4 split, a shareholder of four shares will end up with one share.

The price of one share will be the sum of all the four shares, enhancing the per-share value. The market capitalization value remains the same as there are no new additions, only a restructuring. Let us understand the concept better with a recent example.

Reverse Stock Split Examples

The below-mentioned reverse stock split examples outline how it works using calculations to help you understand its meaning better.

Example with calculations

ABC Limited is trading on the stock exchange, with each share costing $2. There are 2400000 outstanding shares. Thus, the market capitalization of the company is $4800000. Therefore, the company wants to attract high net worth investors and as such it goes for a reverse split of 1 for 30 shares.

Therefore, 

  • Reverse stock split ratio or RSP is 1:30; original share price or OP is $2; Original Number of Shares or OS is 2400000.
  • New price per-share or NP = OP X The number of shares consolidated = 2 X 30 = $60
  • New number of shares or NS = OS ÷ RSP = 2400000 × (1 ÷ 30) = 80000 shares
  • Market capitalization before the split = NP × NS = 60 × 2400000 = $4800000
  • Market capitalization after the split = 60 × 80000 = $4800000

What happens to the shares held by the investor after the split?

The investor who holds 3000 shares worth $6000, i.e., $2/share, before the reverse split, now owns 100 shares of $60 each, still totalling $6000 in worth. Many reverse stock split calculators help investors compute their investment value after the consolidation.

Examples from history

The financial history is rich with examples that also throw some ideas on whether a reverse stock split is good or bad. Other than USO, some other companies to have opted for this split are Citibank, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) or NatWest, Xerox Corporations, AIG, Tyco, Titanium Metals, etc. For example, LM Funding America, Inc. went ahead with a 1 for 5 consolidation recently to stay on the NASDAQ by maintaining the share price above $1.

Is Reverse Stock Split Good or Bad?

While investors lose some shares, they still retain the same value. However, the circumstance under which a company has opted for a reverse split gives weight to investors’ fears. Many experts have observed that a financially troubled company usually opts for a share consolidation to boost its stock price artificially. Such shareholders will inevitably fear losing their savings to further falls if they don’t disinvest.

Although, some companies have risen from the brink of underperformance. In 2011, Citigroup opted for a 1 for 10 split, raising its share price to $40 each after trading at $4.5 for a while. It was a move to control volatility and reinstate its quarterly dividendDividendDividend is that portion of profit which is distributed to the shareholders of the company as the reward for their investment in the company and its distribution amount is decided by the board of the company and thereafter approved by the shareholders of the company.read more. Today Citi’s stock price is beyond $70, with it reporting $7.94 billion in profit, triple from 2020.

Similarly, NatWest had undergone a 1 for 10 split in 2012 amidst government bailouts after being painfully struck with the financial crisis. Like Citi, the bank worked on its profits. In 2019, it had reported 4.2 billion pre-tax profits. However, many companies haven’t been able to bounce back even after the split, such as AIG and Tyco.

Besides losing your shares, such splits create problems like odd lots and fractional shares. Many investors and stock exchanges do not prefer odd lots, while fractional sharesFractional SharesFractional share refers to just a part of equity stock which doesn't amount to a single stock unit. Such shares are acquired after stock splits, merger or acquisition, dividend reinvestments, capital gains and dollar-cost averaging. The shareholders cannot sell these stocks in the open market.read more affect voting rights. As such, many experts suggest keeping a close watch on the company’s performance after the split.

If a distressed firm brings itself up from the downfall and its profits improve, the split might not be so bad. Also, sometimes, the consolidation happens with the intent to serve the shareholders better. If these parameters are missing and the share price continues to fall, it might be a sign of worry. Being observant of the post-split activities can help investors from future losses by timely disinvesting.

Reverse Stock Split Advantages

Apart from delisting, the following are advantages of the reverse split.

Match Stock Price of Competitors: If the competitor company’s share value is relatively high, it will appear more attractive. The split will help the company secure an equivalent share price to stay in investors’ good books.

Seek Attention from Big Investors: Many high-net-worth institutional investorsInstitutional InvestorsInstitutional investors are entities that pool money from a variety of investors and individuals to create a large sum that is then handed to investment managers who invest it in a variety of assets, shares, and securities. Banks, NBFCs, mutual funds, pension funds, and hedge funds are all examples.read more, mutual fundsMutual FundsA mutual fund is an investment fund that investors professionally manage by pooling money from multiple investors to initiate investment in securities individually held to provide greater diversification, long term gains and lower level of risks.read more and pension funds let go of certain stocks due to their low share price. The split prevents this.

Other advantages – It helps stocks become more liquid and less volatile. Besides, bear investors take falling and low stock prices as a downtrend sign which furthers affect the price.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why would a company do a reverse stock split?

Companies take up this strategic move for the following reasons:
• To avoid delisting of the stocks from the NYSE and NASDAQ by fulfilling their criteria of per-share price above $1;
• To make the stocks appealing to institutional investors, mutual funds, etc.
• To match the stock price with that of the competitors.

Is a reverse stock split good?

It doesn’t affect the market capitalization but only transforms the stock structure. However, investors should always determine the reasons behind the split to ensure that they are not in for a loss.

How to profit from a reverse stock split?

Speculators may generate some profit from the short-selling of such stocks. However, if you have invested in a reputable and profit-making corporation, sometimes the split could be a move to serve its shareholders better. As such, don’t rush to sell your shares.

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to Reverse Stock Split and its definition. Here we also discuss how it works along with practical examples of the reverse stock split 1 for 2 and more. You can learn more about accounting from the following articles –

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