Google reported earnings last week — the first report since splitting Google stock into two classes of stock — and results were largely positive. If Google stock investors were confused about what’s in a name, they aren’t showing it: Both GOOG and GOOGL are up about 4% since the close on the day of earnings.
And analysts liked what they saw in Google’s earnings report. In all, Google stock got higher price targets from Canaccord Genuity, Oppenheimer, Deutsche Bank, UBS and CRT Capital.
Google announced a 2-for-1 stock split back in January, and it finally took effect last April 3. The result: GOOG has been joined by GOOGL, each representing different classes of Google stock.
Confused about what the difference is and whether you should care? Don’t worry — we’ve broken down the Google stock split for you and rounded up some of the best commentary we could find.
GOOG and GOOGL: What’s the Difference?
Yeah, some stock splits just result in more shares of stock and thus a lower share price per share. But that’s not the case here. Like we said, there are now two different Google stock tickers to choose from.
Why? Well, the big differentiator is simple: voting rights. And the motivation is obvious: helping founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, along with executive chairman Eric Schmidt, stay in control.
A quick summary:
- GOOG stock represents Class C shares, while GOOGL stock represents Class A shares.
- Class C shares (GOOG) have no voting rights, while Class A shares (GOOGL) have one vote each.
- Anyone who owned Google stock before the split got one share of the voting GOOGL stock and one share of the non-voting GOOG stock.
- Of course, there are also Class B shares of Google stock, which do not trade in the public market, are owned by Google insiders and each get ten votes.
- The fine print: Every time the company sells a share of Class C stock, it also must convert one Class B share into a Class A share.
- Also, Google (as the result of a class-action settlement around the stock split) will compensate non-voting GOOG stock investors in a year if there is a substantial difference in price between the two classes.
- Google Class A and C shares were both represented on Nasdaq OMX indices such as the Nasdaq-100 through June 20. Thus, the Nasdaq-100 actually had 101 constituents during that time.
- Google Class A shares stopped being listed on Nasdaq OMX indices after the quarterly rebalance on June 23, and Google instead will be represented on such indices by the Class C shares. Class A shares will continue to trade on the exchange, however.
A few months after the split, there isn’t much of a price difference between the two classes of Google stock. As of Wednesday’s close, GOOG stock was worth $595.98 per share, while GOOGL stock was going for a 1.5% premium: $605.19.
The Google Stock Split: What the Experts Are Saying
Google stock investors — and, even more importantly, potential investors — must know more than just the specifics of the split, though; they must know what it means for their own portfolios.
According to Dan Ritter at Wall St. Cheat Sheet, not much has changed as the result of the GOOG vs. GOOGL distinction. As he wrote:
“This may sound like a somewhat contrived way for executives to maintain control of the company, and it kind of is, but this is fine. A bet on Google has always been a bet on Brin, Page and Schmidt. They’ve argued that from from the beginning, and it’s worked out well so far. The stock split is a mechanism to preserve what’s worked for years at one of the world’s greatest Internet and technology companies.”
Michael Liedtke, a tech writer for The Associated Press, even noted that Google isn’t the only company to pull this kind of trick. As he put it:
“Although still rare, Google’s reliance on nonvoting stock to protect their founders’ interests isn’t unprecedented in the technology industry. Facebook (FB), LinkedIn (LNKD) and Yelp (YELP) all have issued nonvoting stock for the same reason as Google. Both cable and Internet service provider Comcast (CMCSA) and cable-TV channel network Discovery Communications (DISCA) already operate under similar stock structures to the one that Google is setting up.”
One thing to be aware of, though, is that the new Google stock price might breed a little bit more volatility. As Louis Navellier explained:
“Splitting Google stock may make the shares a little more volatile as it opens the stock up to more activity from day traders who were kept at bay by the four digit stock price, but that can actually be good for us as it creates buying opportunities from time to time.”
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
Updated from April 8, 2014.