Last week was the 20th anniversary of Amazon’s initial public offering, and the Journal has been falling all over itself coming up with numbers showing how incredible the online retailer is: A 49,000% return, beating the S&P 500 over the period 155 times over. A 36% annualized return—even taking into account the 95% shares lost when the tech bubble burst. And now, a nearly $1,000 share price. What else is there to say about it? Given that Amazon’s already been given credit for being one of 30 stocks that generated one third of all the money made on the stock market in the last 90 years, let’s now blame it for killing a grand stock market tradition: the share split.
On Thursday, shares of Amazon.com Inc. almost brushed $1,000 before closing at $993.38.
The price increase, up from around $68 a decade ago, reflects the company’s growth and dominance. But it also marks the latest example of a company letting its stock price rise without engaging in a “split” that boosts the number of shares in order to lower the per-share price….
A big stock price is “a new way of calling attention to yourself,” said William C. Weld, a finance professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School who has studied stock splits. It used to be that splitting shares signaled reliability and stability, he said. “Companies now are saying ‘look at us, we’re tough and strong.’”