Berkshire created cheaper Class B shares in 1996 and split them 50-for-1 in 2010, to make it easier for owners of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, a railroad that Berkshire bought, to exchange their shares for Berkshire shares.
One possible casualty from the fall in splits is finance professors. They've written voluminous studies about them. There have been studies on the rise of splits, the fall of splits, why older firms tend to split less often than young ones, trading before splits, trading after splits and, most recently, why Vietnamese companies plagued by insider-trading are more likely to split.
The danger with the lack of splits is that investors will buy stocks because they think a higher price means it's more valuable.
It's "psychological," says Joe Bell, senior analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research, about the appeal of triple-digit stocks. He adds, "It's much ado about nothing."
Among members of the S&P's $100 Club, the highest price belongs to Google, at $682. Apple is in second place at $610. The rest come from a broad range of industries, from railroads (Union Pacific) to gambling (Wynn Resorts) to restaurants (Chipotle Mexican Grill) and oil (Chevron).
The biggest gainer among new members is Sherwin-Williams, the paint maker. Its stock has risen 69 percent since the start of 2012 on higher revenue and earnings. It closed Friday at $151.
For those coveting really high-priced stocks, the prize remains Class A shares of Berkshire Hathaway, which aren't in the S&P 500 and have never split. They are worth $133,841 each.
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