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Forward Stock Split: Definition and How It Works

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 1/24/2023 18 min read

What’s all the hype about forward stock splits?

When a growing company announces an upcoming stock split, there can be a lot of confusion about what it means. 

Some traders rush to buy, thinking they’re getting something for nothing… 

Not so fast.

You may get more shares, but do you really get more value? 

Before you jump into the next stock that announces a split, read on… 

I’ll tell you what a forward stock split is, how it differs from a reverse stock split, and what it means for your account if you hold stock through a split. 

You might just find that a stock split isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

Let’s do this!

What Is a Stock Split?

A stock split occurs when a company splits its existing shares into more or fewer shares. 

They’re announced as a ratio. 

For example, you could see it announced as a two-for-one, 2-for-1, or as a ratio like 2:1. All of them mean the same thing. After the split, you’d have two shares for each one you owned before the split.

Companies can do any split ratio they want — 4:1, 7:1, or even 20:1. 

The first number tells you how many shares you’ll get for every share of the second number. 

Since a forward stock split gives shareholders more shares, you might wonder, “is a stock split good?” 

More shares in your account means more value right? Not exactly.

Let’s dip deeper into what a stock split is and how it can affect your account, then you can decide for yourself…

Understanding How a Stock Split Works

Forward stock splits can be confusing. Especially if you see changes to your account that you don’t understand. So let me break it down…

Stock splits don’t change a company’s value. They just change how the company’s value is divided among shareholders.  

A stock split creates more shares of the company, so each share becomes worth less. With a reverse stock split, shares consolidate into fewer shares so each one becomes worth more. 

If you hold a position in a company through a split, the number of shares you own will change. So will the price per share. But the overall value of your position will stay the same. 

I’ll share some real-life stock split examples later in this post. But first…

Forward Stock Split vs. Reverse Stock Split

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A forward split divides the existing shares of a company into more shares. 

Instead of creating more shares and selling them into the market through a secondary offering, a split divides the shares equally among existing shareholders. 

It’s a way for companies to create more shares without diluting shareholder value. 

A forward split is generally considered a good thing. Even though the company doesn’t make any money from the new shares. It can mean the stock is in high demand and the market can support more supply.

A reverse stock split is the opposite of a forward split. Instead of dividing existing shares into more, it consolidates them into less and the share price goes up. Sounds like good news right? Nope.  

I see sketchy penny stock companies do it all the time… 

It’s a way for them to increase the stock price without adding any value to the company. It’s usually done so the company can meet the listing requirements of major exchanges. The Nasdaq and NYSE require companies to maintain a list price of $1 or more or they risk being delisted.  

Another reason a penny stock company might do a reverse split is to generate more interest and volume in the stock. Because a lot of traders and hedge funds won’t trade stocks under $1. 

New to the penny stock niche? Get my FREE guide on how to trade these sketchy stocks here. 

Do Stocks Usually Go Up After a Split?

Like I said earlier, a forward split brings the stock price down and a reverse stock split increases the share price. 

But since the market interprets a forward stock split as good news, the anticipation of the split can create hype and cause a stock to go up. We saw it happen with the forward splits in Tesla and Apple in 2020 … More on those examples later.

When a company announces a split, it can be a sign to traders that it’s an uptrending stock and in high demand. That can generate more interest and demand and drive prices up even higher. 

But once the stock split occurs, the price will be adjusted lower based on the size of the split. 

Then it’s up to the market to decide if the stock price goes up or down. The price could go up since more traders and investors can afford the lower price. Or it could go lower as shareholders who rode the hype up sell the news.

Why Would a Company Do a Forward Split? 

If a forward split brings a stock price down, why would a company do it? Here are a few reasons a stock split might make sense to a company…

To Lower the Stock Price

When successful companies experience huge growth, the stock price may become out of reach for smaller investors and retail traders. That means less liquidity in the stock and limited shareholders. 

A lower stock price means it’s more affordable to more investors and traders. And that can mean more volume and liquidity. 

To Increase Demand

A lower price can also increase demand for the stock. The more traders and investors who can afford it, the more that can freely trade it. That can keep the stock trading high volume and more traders and investors interested. 

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What Are the Disadvantages of Forward Stock Splits?

The biggest disadvantage is more shares. It means each share’s worth a smaller percentage of the company. 

It also means the stock will need more demand to push the price higher. That’s why companies usually do splits when their stock is in high demand and uptrending. That way there’s enough demand to absorb the excess supply. 

Another disadvantage of a stock split is that the company doesn’t generate any capital for expenses or expansion. It doesn’t add any value to the company. 

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Forward Stock Split Examples

Here are some real-life examples… 

Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA)

Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) announced a five-for-one forward stock split on August 11, 2020. The split was effective on August 31, 2020. That gave traders and investors plenty of time to drive the price higher in anticipation of the split. 

Electric vehicle stocks were a smokin’ hot sector for most of 2020, which also helped drive up the price. The stock was running before TSLA announced the split. And yep, even after CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the stock was overvalued… 

You can see on the TSLA one-year chart, the stock was up over the month before the split. But after the split announcement, it went even higher. The upward arrow shows when the split was announced. The downward arrow shows when the split became effective.

forward stock split - TSLA
TSLA chart: 1-year, daily candle — courtesy of StocksToTrade.com

Here’s what I thought about the insane Tesla run-up before it announced the stock split…

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL)

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced a forward stock split on July 30, 2020, when shares were trading near $400. The four-for-one split went into effect on August 31, 2020.

You can see from the AAPL one-year chart that the stock gapped up following the news of the split and continued upward. But once the split went into effect (marked by the downward arrow) the stock retreated. 

Apple forward stock split
AAPL chart: 1-year, daily candle — courtesy of StocksToTrade.com

The Trade Desk, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTD)

On May 10, 2021, The Trade Desk, Inc. announced a huge 10-for-1 stock split effective June 17. In this case, the stock crashed after the news. The split was announced as part of the company’s earnings report, so that could have impacted the price action. 

But it’s a good example of why I always say trading’s not an exact science. There’s no such thing as news or a catalyst that works 100% of the time. If it did, trading would be easy. It’s not. 

TTD forward stock split
TTD chart: 1-year, daily candle — courtesy of StocksToTrade.com

How Can You Calculate Forward Stock Splits?

Here’s how you can calculate what a stock price will be after a split. You’ll need to know the ratio of the split and do a simple calculation…

Divide the current stock price by the split ratio to determine the share price after the split. 

Let’s say you own 1,000 shares of a company at $25 when a four-for-one stock split becomes effective. You can divide the share price of $25 by four to come up with the value of each share after the split. In this case, each share would be worth $6.25 after the split.

The overall volume of your position didn’t change. You had 1,000 shares at $25 for a total value of $25,000. After the split, you’d have 4,000 shares worth $6.25 each, for a total value of $25,000.   supernova placement

Upcoming Forward Stock Split Calendar 2021

You can search for upcoming stock splits on a calendar like the one on Nasdaq.com. It will show you which companies have upcoming splits in the next few months. 

Pay close attention to the split ratios to determine whether it’s a forward or reverse split. 

A forward split is announced with a larger number first, like four-for-one or 4:1. A reverse stock split is announced with a smaller number first like one-for-five or 1:5. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Forward Stock Splits

Why Do Some Companies Not Split Their Stock?

Some companies may think having a higher stock price makes it look more valuable. A company may not split its stock if it’s not worried about having limited shareholders or if there are no liquidity issues in how the stock trades.

What Does a 4-to-1 Stock Split Mean?

If a company announces a 4:1 split it means each share will be split into 4 shares. It can also be worded as a four-for-one stock split.

How Do You Calculate a 2-for-1 Stock Split?

A two-for-one split means shareholders will own two shares after the split for each one they owned prior to the split. Each share will be worth half as much, so the overall value of shareholders’ positions doesn’t change.

The Bottom Line 

forward stock split - bottom line
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A stock split doesn’t give shareholders more value. And as I showed in my examples, not all stocks go up after announcing a forward split. 

So is a split good? That depends. 

Like most things in trading, it’s not an exact science. That’s why I always prefer to react to stock news, rather than try to predict it. 

You can’t impose your will on the market. It doesn’t care what you want. So don’t buy into a stock thinking all forward stock splits go up. Trading’s not that simple. 

It takes years of dedication to learn the nuances of the market. It’s taken me 20+ years of trading experience to learn everything I know. Now I teach it all to students in my Trading Challenge.  

But you won’t see me trade news of forward or reverse stock splits. And I don’t trade stocks like Tesla or Apple… 

I day trade volatile penny stocks. My goal is to make 10%–20% per trade — not per year like typical investors. 

And my penny stock patterns have helped me make over $7 million in trading profits over my career.* But it wasn’t easy. 

I didn’t have a mentor to teach me what to do and what not to do. That’s why I became a teacher — to be the mentor to traders that I never had. And having a mentor can greatly increase your learning curve. My 10+ millionaire students prove that.*

Want to learn from my experience? Apply for my Trading Challenge today

What do you think? Is a stock split good or bad? Let me know in the comments … I love to hear from you!


*Please note that reported trading results are not typical. Most traders lose money. It takes years of dedication, hard work, and discipline to learn how to trade. Individual results will vary. Trading is inherently risky. Before making any trades, remember to do your due diligence and never risk more than you can afford to lose. 

While Tim Sykes has enjoyed remarkable success trading stocks over the years, earning an aggregate sum of over $7 million in trading profits between 1999 and 2021, his primary income derives from the sale of financial education products and subscription services offered by various businesses and websites in which he has an ownership stake.

This level of successful trading is not typical and does not reflect the experience of the majority of individuals using the services and products offered on this website.  From January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020, typical users of the products and services offered by this website reported earning, on average, an estimated $49.91 in profit. This figure is taken from tracking user accounts on Profit.ly, a trading community platform. Timothy Sykes has a minority shareholder interest in the platform. The typical success rate of users was based on the following methodology:

  • From January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020, 849,078 trades were uploaded to Profit.ly.  633,891 trades were “verified” (corroborated with trade account data).
  • Instructor trades are ignored.
  • Average P&L / trades is obtained by calculating total P&L and dividing by the total number of trades

  • Average trades per account is obtained by counting the total number of trades and dividing by the number of accounts (mean function)

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Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (888) 878-3621 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”