8-15-13 6:05 AM EDT | Email Article
 

By Wallace Witkowski, MarketWatch

 

With stock splits becoming less commonplace and share prices reaching record levels, several stocks are getting closer to that rarified level of $1,000 a share. The trend reflects a big shift in how companies view exposure to retail investors. There's less of an incentive for companies to split their stock because more small investors -- the ones that would be put off by a high stock price -- are investing in companies less directly through mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, said Donald MacGregor, principal at MacGregor-Bates, a research-based consulting firm that specializes in decision-making and risk. Plus, higher stock prices have become more fashionable lately, with successful start-ups more likely to retain it as a status symbol as they mature, he said. "Companies are saying, 'Why should we play to individual investors? They're not going to be big holders anyway," MacGregor said.

 

So far, the $1,000-a-share mark has eluded every stock on the S&P 500 Index(SPX), according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Indices. And given the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (DJI) price-weighting, it's unlikely that any $1,000 stocks--or even those worth half the price --will occupy the index in the near future. Here are a collection of stocks that are close to the $1,000 mark, ones that used to be in contention, and a few that have been-there-done-that.

 

-- Wallace Witkowski @wmwitkowski

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

1. Priceline.com Inc.

 

The highest-priced S&P 500 stock and the most likely to become the first to break the index's $1,000-a-share barrier is Priceline.com (PCLN). On Aug 9., Priceline shares came within a hair of it, hitting an intraday high of $994.98. In the past month, the average price target of the nearly 30 analysts covering the company has risen to $1,104.70 from the average of $936.81 in mid-July. The online travel site bulked up its stock price back in June 2003 when it enacted a 1-for-6 reverse split. The Aug. 9 intraday high was the first time Priceline.com surpassed its previous split-adjusted high of $990 set on April 30, 1999.

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

2. Google Inc.

 

While they've pulled back about 6% from their all-time high of $928 in mid-July, Google (GOOG) shares are still in the running to hit $1,000, needing a 15% bump to get there. The average target price for the stock is $981.05, and 16 out of 48 analysts have a price target of $1,000 or more on the stock. That, however, could all get scrapped with a stock split. The company recently settled a lawsuit with shareholders opposed to a stock split that would have created a new class of shares.

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

3. MasterCard Inc.

 

MasterCard (MA) shares, trading near $630, are relatively close to their average price target of $680. They are the third-highest priced stock on the S&P 500, rising 47% over the past 12 months, and another bump like that will put the stock squarely within range of $1,000. Recently, money manager Bill Gunderson presented his argument on why MasterCard is poised to be the next $1,000 stock.

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

4. Apple Inc.

 

It wasn't too long ago, a little less than a year, that Apple was being touted as the next $1,000-a-share stock, or what Brian White at Topeka Capital called a "trillion dollar baby." But that was when shares were around $650 and caught in the updraft that would send them toward their all-time high of $705.07 in late September. Fast-forward seven months later and the shares are down 45% to a 52-week low of $385.10 in April. While not in the running like they used to be, Apple stock appears to be undergoing a bit of rehabilitation, especially as it cleared $500 on Wednesday, the day after activist billionaire Carl Icahn announced he bought a $1 billion chunk of the company. Whether that's the kick in the pants it will take to put Apple firmly back on the road to $1,000 a share remains to be seen.

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

5. NVR Inc.

 

NVR (NVR) is an example of a been-there-done-that stock when it comes to hitting $1,000 a share. Shares of the single-family home builder and financier first closed above $1,000 a share in late-January and managed to carry that weight until late May. That's when NVR stock started drifting away to its current price in the high $800s as home builder stocks were hit across the board because of higher interest rates and an earnings season that saw orders and deliveries short of expectations. Even so, the stock, which doesn't trade on the S&P 500, still commands an average price target of $1,005.17 from analysts.

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

6. Washington Post Co.

 

Shares of Washington Post (WPO) fell 50 cents short of hitting $1,000 back on Dec. 30, 2004. By the time the stock joined the S&P 500 nearly three years later it was hovering around $800. While shares have taken a considerable beating since then -- falling as low as $300 in March 2009 -- they're currently on an upswing, rising nearly 70% over the past 12 months, with a little less than 3% of the rise coming from the announcement that Amazon's Jeff Bezos was buying the company's newspaper-publishing business for $250 million.

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

7. Qualcomm Inc.

 

Qualcomm (QCOM) shares gained notoriety before the dot-com bubble popped as a likely $1,000-a-share stock, according to analyst Walter Piecyk, then at PaineWebber, in December 1999. That was after Qualcomm enacted 2-for-1 splits in February 1994 and May 1999 and shares were still north of $650. It was also just before a 4-for-1 split at the end of December 1999. Qualcomm enacted another 2-for-1 split in August 2004. Simply accounting for splits, a share of Qualcomm bought in January 1994 and held onto until today, when the stock is worth about $67, would be worth about $2,140.

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

8. Baidu Inc.

 

Another former contender for $1,000 were it not for stock splits were U.S. shares of Baidu (BIDU). Back in 2010, before the Chinese Internet search engine enacted a 10-for-1 split, shares closed at a pre-split price of $714.17 on May 11, 2010. While shares received an added boost of about 7% the day after the split, one can't help but think that Baidu shares would be somewhere in $1,400 territory now had it not been for the split. Shares have surged 38% this year.

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

9. Intuitive Surgical Inc.

 

In 2012, when it hit its all-time intraday high of $594.89, Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) was being considered a potential $1,000-a-share stock. Then, in February of this year, the maker of robotic surgical systems suffered a rare setback when federal regulators started probing whether the minimally invasive surgical devices caused complications. Shares dropped again in July after weak earnings and the company receiving a Food and Drug Administration "warning letter" concerning one of its facilities. Recently, the company bought back $779 million in shares, but some analysts expressed skepticism about the buyback effort.

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

10. Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

 

The grandaddy of high-priced shares, the never-been-split Berkshire Hathaway Class A (BRKA) shares, started trading back in 1984 at $1,300 and are now at $175,019 a share. The so-called "Baby Berkshire" shares, the Class B shares (BRK/A), ran in the more affordable $3,300 range before they were split 50-to-1 in 2010 to accommodate the $44 billion acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. While the split was credited with putting Class B shares on the S&P 500 as they became more tradable -- satisfying S&P volume requirements -- that reasoning may become less of a concern in the future if high share prices do less to impede volume.

-Wallace Witkowski; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

08-15-13 0605ET

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