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Largest & Smallest ETF Handles

Largest & Smallest ETF Handles
Largest & Smallest ETF Handles

Share prices don’t matter all that much anymore. It used to be that companies would often split the price of their stocks, making them more “affordable” for the average investor.

That doesn’t happen so much anymore. According to Charles Schwab, the number of share splits by S&P 500 companies decreased from 102 in 1997 to seven in 2016.

Of course, the share prices themselves are just an accounting mechanism and don’t have anything to do with market value per se. Only when combined with the number of shares outstanding do they mean something (share price times shares outstanding equals market capitalization).

When a company splits its shares—for example, two-for-one—the share price halves, while the number of shares outstanding double, resulting in the same market value.

Pricing Behavior
Still, even though share prices don’t have any impact on the fundamentals of a company, in the past, they were still a factor that influenced individual investor purchasing decisions.

When contemplating investments, a large share price could dissuade an investor who has $100 or even $1,000 to invest from buying a particular stock.

The advent of fractional share trading has diminished those concerns for even the smallest investors. Now, even the $2,600 price tag for Amazon or the $1,450 price per share for Alphabet aren’t much of a consideration.

The same goes for ETFs.

The prices per share, or handles, if they mattered even a little bit before, matter even less now in a world of fractional share trading. Still, there is an argument to be made that large handles (the price of a share rounded down to a whole value) provide some prestige to a stock or fund.

But handles are interesting to look at. Here are the ETFs with the largest share prices and followed by the ETFs with the smallest share prices:


ETFs With The Largest Handles

Share prices as of June 9, 2020


ETFs With The Smallest Handles

Share prices as of June 9, 2020


Not Handle Too Big
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with a $300,000 handle, is an obvious example. So, too, are the tech giants with their thousand-dollar share prices. A high price suggests that a stock or ETF has performed well over time and/or been around for a long time.

There are artificial ways to getting to a high share price (a reverse split, for example), but absent that, a high price may be an indicator of good returns and longevity.

To be sure, a share price is not a top factor to consider, or even one to consider at all, when making investment decisions.

A good investor simply doesn’t care what price an ETF trades at in and of itself (which is different than whether the price is rising or falling).

​Email Sumit Roy at sroy@etf.com or follow him on Twitter @sumitroy2

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