By Julia Horowitz, CNN Business
In recent years, when a company announced it was splitting its stock, Wall Street went wild. When Tesla revealed such plans in 2020, its shares immediately shot up. They climbed 66% over the following 12 months.
But as concerns about the Federal Reserve, inflation and the economy plague investors, those days may be over.
Tesla announced Friday that it will ask investors to split its shares 3-to-1 at its annual meeting in August. But the stock barely moved after hours Friday and is sliding in premarket trading Monday. Shares are down more than 30% since the company first teased a stock split in late March.
In the case of a 5-to-1 split, someone who owned one share priced at $100 would instead receive five worth $20 apiece. A 3-to-1 split would dole out three shares worth $33.33.
That may not sound like a big deal. Yet in the past, it’s helped drive demand, since it makes shares more accessible to everyday investors.
It also makes it more likely that companies will be included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which tends to include less expensive stocks. Apple announced a 7-for-1 stock split in 2014 and joined the Dow in 2015.
In the current market environment, it’s hard to get anyone excited about Tesla or many of its fast-growing peers. Amazon’s 20-for-1 stock split took effect last Monday. Its shares are still down 25% year-to-date. Alphabet, which owns Google, will split its shares 20-for-1 in July. The stock has fallen 23% this year.
These three companies all took a beating on Friday after government data showed that US consumer prices are rising at the fastest rate in 40 years. The Consumer Price Index leaped 8.6% for the 12 months ending in May.
That rounded out the S&P 500’s worst week since January. The concern is that higher inflation will push the Federal Reserve to be more aggressive in hiking interest rates. When rates rise, it hurts stocks like Tesla, whose prices are tied to expectations for longer-term growth and earning potential.
Tesla has already seen tons of money wiped off its valuation this year. In January, it was worth $1.15 trillion. Now its market value is $722 billion.
CEO Elon Musk’s recent warning that he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy, combined with confusion over whether he plans to cut jobs at the automaker, hasn’t helped. Federal investigators also said last week that they’re expanding their probe of Teslas that have slammed into parked first responders’ vehicles.
At some point, Wall Street’s bargain hunters may enter the scene, putting a floor under stocks that have been hit hard by the recent sell-off. But this moment hasn’t arrived yet — even with stock splits on the table.