Online travel giant Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN) has performed extremely well over the years, and one of its biggest claims to fame is that it's one of few stocks that has done a reverse stock split and recovered to see incredible success.
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Now, Priceline's share price is well into four digits, and some investors believe that the company's decision not to do a stock split is silly and acts as a barrier for those of modest means to buy shares.
Will Priceline give into the wishes of those who want a lower share price by splitting its stock? Below, we'll look at Priceline Group to see what hints we can glean about whether a split is in the works for 2017.
Image source: Priceline.
Has Priceline ever done a regular stock split?
Interestingly enough, despite its high price, Priceline Group has never done a traditional stock split. Here's the only move it has made with its shares during its history:
Data source: Priceline Group investor relations.
That reverse split came at a tough time for Priceline Group. In the wake of the internet boom and subsequent bust, Priceline nearly became one of the many casualties among young companies seeking to take advantage of the technological marvel. In addition, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks made many investors believe that travel would become far less common, causing particularly harsh conditions for Priceline and its travel peers. Prior to the reverse split, the stock had traded as low as $1.05 per share, and even after a nice jump in the months leading up to the move, the reverse split only sent the stock up into the low $20s initially.
Why Priceline hasn't split its stock
Since then, Priceline has proven naysayers wrong. By expanding into the international market, Priceline gained a first-mover advantage that its competitors have yet to catch up to, and even a sluggish global economy hasn't held Priceline back with its extensive list of accommodations worldwide. The plunge in travel activity never happened, and the strong dollar has made U.S. travelers even more likely to go abroad even as geopolitical issues have started to arise to make travel more difficult in general. Consolidation in the industry also helped support Priceline's competitive advantages, and the company has moved into adjacent focus areas through moves like its acquisition of restaurant reservations specialist OpenTable.
Throughout its high-growth phase, Priceline hasn't ever announced a stock split, and even with share prices near $1,600, no split seems imminent. A check of quarterly conference calls going back more than a decade showed not even a mention of the word "split" in the context of issuing more shares to reduce the stock price.
Apart from not being a corporate priority for Priceline, stock splits have fallen out of favor. When you look across the market, you can find many successful companies that have avoided doing stock splits as their share prices soar well into triple digits. Some have introduced new share classes to reduce the share price rather than doing a traditional split with a single class of shares. But overall, more companies seem to see their high share prices as a mark of distinction and pride for their long-term success.
Will Priceline Group do a stock split in 2017?
At this point, there's no reason to believe that Priceline will suddenly start paying attention to its share price and do a stock split in 2017. In all likelihood, the company will be happy to see the stock continue to rise. Long-term investors don't have any reason to disagree, given how well Priceline has performed over its history.
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