Impact of Stock Split on Stock Return

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Proceedings of ASBBS

Volume 16 Number 1


Garcia de Andoain, Carlos Longwood University

Bacon, Frank W. Longwood University 2O1 High Street Farmville, VA 23909 Phone: 434-395-2131 Fax: 434-395-2203 ABSTRACT The purpose of this study is to test whether the investor can make an above normal return by relying on public information impounded in a stock split announcement. Using risk adjusted event study methodology, this study tests “how” and “when” public announcements of forward and reverse stock splits affect stock price. Stock split announcement samples include 38 two for one, 39 three for two, and 10 reverse splits. A total of 36,714 observations for the announcement samples and the corresponding S&P 500 stock index were analyzed using standard risk adjusted event study methodology. Results suggest that the firms’ public stock split announcements did not affect stock price on the announcement day. Rather, for the two for one and three for two forward split samples, stock price exhibited a significant positive reaction up to 27 days prior to the announcement. For the reverse split sample, stock price exhibited a significant negative reaction up to 30 days prior to the announcement. Results support the semi- strong form efficient market hypothesis since stock prices adjust so fast to public information that no investor can earn an above normal return by trading on the announcement day. Investors greet forward stock split announcement with a positive sign, whereas they view reverse splits as bad news. Management may be using stock splits to adjust stock price to a more marketable range, downward with forward and upward for reverse splits. Evidence here suggests signs of insider trading activity up to twenty-seven days prior to the announcement of the stock split.

INTRODUCTION Stock split announcements have always been very common phenomena among firms and continue to be one of the least understood topics in finance. A stock split announcement increases the number of shares of a company while decreasing the price per share. The two for one split is most common, for example a company with 500 shares at $10 per share will issue 500 additional shares bringing the total to 1000 shares theoretically dropping the stock price to $5 per share. A stock split usually takes place after an increase in the price of the stock, and it carries a positive stock price reaction. (Asquith) This phenomenon has not yet been fully understood, regardless the numerous studies in the field. ASBBS Annual Conference: Las Vegas February 2009

Proceedings of ASBBS

Volume 16 Number 1

BACKGROUND Barker (1956) presented one of the most popular theories to explain stock split behavior. Barker findings failed to consider the split action itself. Barker’s study concluded that price changes occurred because of the increase in cash dividends and not from the split action. (Johnson). According to the “signaling hypothesis”, managers use stock split announcements to convey positive information about the firm (Ikenberry, Rankine, Strice). Investors see a stock split announcement as a positive thing, whereas a reverse split does not convey favorable information. Fama (1969) suggests that the stock market is “efficient”, meaning that stock prices adjust very fast to new information. The theory of market efficiency is concerned with whether prices reflect all the public available information or not (Fama 1970). Efficiency implies that it is impossible for the investor to earn an above normal return from public information. PURPOSE The purpose of this event study is to test market efficiency theory by analyzing the impact of three samples of stock split announcements on the firm’s stock price. Stock split announcement samples include 38 two for one, 39 three for two, and 10 reverse splits. Specifically,...
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