This is a good trend, in my opinion. For quite a few years now it seems there was a certain caché in having a high-priced stock, especially in the tech sector. Could it be this has simply been a fad, now dying out as boards of directors and markets evolve.
Regardless, our task is to determine if Amazon deserves a place in the 2 for 1 Index. In addition to Amazon's 20 for 1, there have been four other recent split announcements: CIBC (CM) and Salisbury Bancorp (SAL) both announced 2 for 1 splits while W.R. Berkley (WRB) announced a 3 for 2 split and ACM Research (ACMR) announced a 3 for 1 split.
The temptation is to go with Amazon. It's an amazing growth story and a company that has my loyalty as the place where I can buy just about anything easily and at a fair price. That being said, AMZN pays no dividend, is more volatile than the market, and has valuation numbers not entirely justified by its growth projections. AMZN did not score well when compared to some of the other recent splits.
For the others, Salisbury looks like a fine local bank but it's way too small and thinly traded to be considered for the Index. ACM research hasn't been doing well lately and may have announced a split simply to create a little buzz in the market. W. R. Berkley is the stock we previously owned that just left the Index last month and it's still a great company.
However, we only need one addition to our Index each month and, for the March pick, it's going to be the CIBC — Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce — which was founded in 1867 and is headquartered in Toronto.
The bank scored very well on almost all the screens found useful in determining the best companies for the 2-for-1 Index. CM's stock price went on a tear earlier this year but recently has come back down to what I believe to be an affordable price.
This very profitable bank pays over a 4% dividend that has been steadily increasing at a 3 to 4% rate over the last decade. I won't deny this is partially a defensive choice at a fairly volatile time for the market and the world.
The major Canadian banks are all very stable and very well managed. They fared far better than the big American banks during the 2008-09 melt-down. CM may not set the 2 for 1 Index on fire but, remember, it does have the Stock Split Advantage and will be added to our Index.