When Will Google Split?

It didn't take long for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) to hit the $300 mark. That "perfect bowling game" moment came and went yesterday afternoon, just 10 months after the company went public at $85 a pop.

So? Where's the stock split announcement, folks? No, it didn't happen. It didn't happen at $200 either. Give that Google once hoped to go public priced as high as $135 a share, it's not as if the company has ever been in a hurry to drive its stock down to more conventional tech stock pricing.

Google isn't alone. Other stocks that aren't afraid of heights include Washington Post (NYSE: WPO  ) , perched at $830 and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A  ) which will set you back about $83,000 for a class A share. Seaboard (NYSE: SEB  ) makes Google's $300 price tag seem puny by comparison to its $1,500 and NVR (NYSE: NVR  ) has no problem finding buyers and sellers at $780.

That doesn't mean that Google won't split. It just means that it doesn't really have to. Odd-lot transactions are common these days, and stock splits are zero sum games, anyway. If a stock splits in half, its shares outstanding double. If it goes with a 3-for-1 split, its share count simply triples. It's still the same pie, just cut into smaller slices.

So while there's no harm in speculating on what Google will do on the split front, I think your time is better spent trying to gauge the stock's valuation.

Two months ago, I wrote that Google was cheap at $220, which sounded absurd to some. Well, that $60 billion company is now an $85 billion company. Is the stock still cheap? OK, maybe it's not a screaming bargain at this point, but if you apply next year's analyst projections, which call for the company to earn $6.66 a share next year -- a scary omen, I know -- the stock is fetching 45 times next year's earnings. Is that high? Yes. Outlandish? Not really. I remember when Inside Value pick Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) fetched a similar multiple and the soda giant has never been on the same kind of growth trajectory as Google is.

That doesn't mean that I'll be loading up on Google and cheering it towards $400. I think it's one of the greatest companies in the country right now but I prefer to find growth stocks much earlier in their growth cycle. So keep it up, Google. I'll be watching from a safe distance.

More bowling with Google:

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has never declared a stock split himself, though he did once have a splitting headache. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.


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