Friday, 29 December 2023

Stock Split Watch: Will Costco and MercadoLibre Split Their Stocks in 2024?

by Earn Media

Investors love stock splits. Although they don’t change anything essential about a company or its stock, companies that split their stocks have typically seen them rise in value to such an extent that they need to reduce the price tags to make them more accessible to investors. That indicates these are well-run, well-liked companies, making them intriguing stock picks.

High-profile companies like Amazon, Apple, and Nvidia have recently split their stocks. But despite huge price tags, Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ: COST) and MercadoLibre (NASDAQ: MELI) have yet to follow that route. Will they do so in 2024?

Costco: Playing by its own rules

Costco operates a differentiated retail model, so it’s not surprising that it doesn’t follow the mold with its stock, either. It split its stock four times from 1990 through 2000 but hasn’t since — and that’s despite gaining more than 1,300% since then.

The giant warehouse retailer just announced a $15 special dividend, its largest ever. Management has stressed several times, prior to and in the announcement, that it’s focused on providing value.

For members, that means management is waiting to raise the annual membership fee. “Certainly, while we’ve gone a little longer than the average increase, we feel we certainly have driven more value to the membership,” management said.

For shareholders, that means it gives back when there’s extra cash, even though, in general, its dividend isn’t high-yielding.

As for the stock split, management isn’t likely to do anything unless there’s specific and practical value for shareholders. In general, stock splits don’t provide any value to shareholders, but there may be an initial jump in price. Over time, since it’s top companies that tend to split their stocks, stock-split stocks tend to perform well.

Costco stock trades at around $675, a record high, as of this writing. Since management does view its business through the lens of providing value, if it thinks the price would become a barrier to entry, I could envision it deciding to split the stock. Otherwise, it’s not into gimmicks, and it’s not likely to split.

2. MercadoLibre: A price tag back in the four digits

MercadoLibre stock plunged early in the bear market, but it’s up 150% since bottoming out in 2022. That puts its price tag back in the four digits, but it’s still 20% off its record high. The Latin American e-commerce platform has never split its stock even though it’s gained 1,370% over the past 10 years. Is this finally the year?

Management hasn’t discussed it, but if the stock price surpasses its previous highs and breaks through the $2,000 mark, that might be something it needs to address. MercadoLibre’s shares have gained 86% in 2023, and if the company continues to report phenomenal performance, the stock is very likely to go way past $2,000. The price tag is around $1,570 now.

Not only is MercadoLibre posting strong sales growth, but it’s accelerating. It also operates several businesses and has a variety of growth drivers in e-commerce, which has rebounded, and fintech, where it’s demonstrating triple-digit growth.

Although MercadoLibre is almost as old as e-commerce king Amazon, in some ways, it’s just getting started. The fintech business sprang out of the need for underbanked Latin American customers to be able to shop on the MercadoLibre e-commerce platform and pay with cash, and it has developed into a thriving business serving customers with all sorts of digital payments services.

MercadoLibre is a top stock with a long growth runway. If the price tag does look like a barrier to entry, you can always buy MercadoLibre stock with fractional shares, and you don’t have to wait for a stock split.

Should you invest $1,000 in Costco Wholesale right now?

Before you buy stock in Costco Wholesale, consider this:

The Motley Fool Stock Advisor analyst team just identified what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy now… and Costco Wholesale wasn’t one of them. The 10 stocks that made the cut could produce monster returns in the coming years.

Stock Advisor provides investors with an easy-to-follow blueprint for success, including guidance on building a portfolio, regular updates from analysts, and two new stock picks each month. The Stock Advisor service has more than tripled the return of S&P 500 since 2002*.

See the 10 stocks

*Stock Advisor returns as of December 18, 2023

John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Jennifer Saibil has positions in MercadoLibre. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon, Apple, Costco Wholesale, MercadoLibre, and Nvidia. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.