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Amazon Announces 20-for-1 Stock Split and $10 Billion Buyback Plan

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Amazon shares are up more than 6% on the news in after-hours trading.

Bloomberg


Amazon
.
com shares are moving sharply higher in after-hours trading after the e-commerce and cloud-computing giant declared a 20-for-1 stock split and announced an expanded stock-repurchase program.

While stock splits don’t mathematically create any value for holders–they’re the financial equivalent of cutting a pie into smaller pieces–retail investors tend to like them, and split announcements often trigger short-term rallies. And, in fact, Amazon shares (ticker: AMZN) are up nearly 7% on the news, at $2,978.

Amazon also announced a $10 billion stock-repurchase plan, replacing a previous $5 billion stock-purchase authorization in which it had bought back $2.12 billion of its shares. The program doesn’t have a fixed expiration date.

The Amazon split follows an announcement last month that Alphabet (GOOGL) is also splitting its shares 20-for-1, effective July 15. Apple (AAPL) split its stock 4-for-1 in 2020.

As with


Alphabet
,
one potential benefit of the Amazon stock split could be the addition of the company’s shares to the

Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Adding high-priced shares to the Dow is problematic because the index is price weighted–the same percentage move matters more for a high priced stock than a low priced one. So a 1% move in


UnitedHealth

(UNH), which trades for $486 a share and has the highest price shares in the Dow, carries almost triple the weight in the index as a comparable move in, say,


Apple

(AAPL) shares, which closed Wednesday at $163.

Adding a stock with a price in the four-digit range would instantly give the company the heaviest weighting in the index, and in fact, neither Amazon nor Alphabet are currently included in the index. The splits could change that.

It’s also worth remembering that changes in the roster of Dow components occur infrequently–the last changes came in August 2020, with


Amgen
,


Honeywell

and


Salesforce.com

added to the index, replacing


Exxon Mobil
,


Pfizer

and Raytheon.

The Amazon split will be effective at the close of business on May 27.

Write to Eric J. Savitz at eric.savitz@barrons.com

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