Stock graphs provide a lot of dynamic information for investors. They show the price action of a stock and movement in the number of shares traded. Charts can also point to stock splits in a company's history. Although every stock-graph provider denotes a stock split differently, all offer their users the ability to see the dates and details of stock splits.
Stock Split Defined
A stock split occurs when a company wants to change the number of shares outstanding without introducing or removing shares. A stock split does not affect the company's capitalization or the worth of a particular investor's holdings. If an investor owns 100 shares of a stock trading at $40 per share for a value of $4,000 and the company's board institutes a 2-for-1 stock split, the number of shares the investor owns will double to 200, but the value of each share will be halved to $20. The investor's position in the company is still $4,000.
Most stock splits are 2-for-1, though some will be 3-for-1 or 3-for-2. A company can institute a reverse stock split, decreasing the number of shares outstanding but increasing the value of each share.
Companies split stock for a number of reasons--chief among them to make shares more attractive to small investors.
Stock Splits on Graphs
Stock graphs readjust the entire history of the stock's price to reflect the stock split. The line on the chart doesn't change--but the numbers on the scale do. There is no way to tell when or if a company has issued a stock split simply by looking at the price graph. To show investors a stock split, many providers place a symbol with the letter "S" in the stock's price graph at the point of a split to indicate that one occurred.
Stock Splits on Yahoo! Charts
Stock splits are not displayed by default on a Yahoo! Finance stock graph. To display the symbol for stock splits, select "Splits" under the "Events" icon on a Yahoo! Finance graph toolbar. Stock splits will be noted with a circle with an "S" in the middle. To get the exact date and terms of the stock split, place your cursor over the symbol.
Stock Splits on Google Charts
Google Finance displays splits on its stock graphs by default. Google indicates a stock split as an arrow with the letter "S" in the middle. Users can see the date and terms of a stock split by placing the cursor over the symbol.
Stock Splits on Big Charts Graphs
Big Charts does not offer stock-split information on basic graphs. To see stock splits on Big Charts, select "Interactive Charts." Splits will be shown with a circle with an "S" in an interactive charts. Hover the mouse over the stock-split symbol to see the date and terms of the stock split.
Stock Splits on AOL Finance Charts
Stock splits are not automatically displayed on AOL Finance stock graphs. To see stock splits, click on the "Events" button. Stock splits will be denoted with a square with an "S" in the middle. Place the cursor over the stock-split symbol to see details of the stock split.