Apple shares rally on stock-split speculation

By Rex Crum, MarketWatch

Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Tech stocks rose Tuesday, with Apple Inc. among the gainers as rumors circulated that the company might announce a stock split at its annual shareholders’ meeting.

Apple AAPL -0.19%  rose 1.4% to close at $448.97 as speculation rose about the possibility of the company announcing a stock split at its annual meeting on Wednesday. Apple officials didn’t immediately return requests for comment. Apple has done two-for-one stock splits three times in its history, with the most recent coming in February 2005.

Apple Inc. AAPL -0.18% shares made a swift reversal higher Tuesday amid a wave of Twitter chatter about a possible stock split and special dividend. Shares rose 1.2% to $448.04 in early afternoon trades after hitting an intraday low of $437.66, or a drop of as much as 1.1%. Volume picked up as the widely held — but recently battered — stock climbed to its highs of the day.

What gives? For a start, hedge fund manager Doug Kass tweeted that he was very long Apple — and then said he was hearing about a stock split.  An Apple spokesperson declined to comment.

Here’s what the intraday chart looks like.

Talk of a split, which has cropped up before, comes a day ahead of Apple’s shareholder meeting. The topic of the company giving back more of its cash to investors has been a hot one, recently resulting in activist investor David Einhorn successfully suing the company over its ballot proposal to allow shareholders to vote on future issuance of preferred stock. Einhorn is pushing his own plan for Apple: to create a special type of a preferred stock that would pay out a perpetual dividend (iPrefs). Read Therese Poletti: Apple cash drama is far from over and Einhorn touts plan for Apple ‘war vault.’

Not surprisingly, there were plenty of Twitter skeptics on the rumor and as trading wore on, Kass started to publicly hedge his comments.

Nonetheless, shares extended gains, trading up 1.5% at $449.32 with about 20 min before the closing bell.