Don't freak out. Here's why Apple's stock is below $100

The Cupertino, Calif., company traded at nearly $650 on Friday, but now there's a 7-for-1 split in effect.

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Apple hosted its Worldwide Developers Conference last week in San Francisco. James Martin/CNET

It's OK. Apple's stock hasn't tanked overnight.

Shares of the Cupertino, Calif., company on Monday started trading for the first time after a 7-for-1 stock split. That means the stock recently traded at $92.96 instead of at over $600 like it had been in the past couple weeks. Shares closed Friday, the last day before the split went into effect, at $645.57.

Apple in April said it planned to give investors six additional shares of stock for every Apple share they owned as of June 2. Because of the split, shares now trade at a much lower level than in the past, but it also makes the stock more accessible to investors. It's much cheaper to own a chunk of Apple at about $100 versus $600.

Just because the stock's now below $100 doesn't mean investors are selling off shares today. If the stock was adjusted to account for the split, shares would have closed at $92.22 on Friday, according to Yahoo Finance, giving Apple a nearly 1 percent rise in early trading Monday.

The stock split came as part of Apple's effort to meet the demands of current shareholders, as well as attract a new group of investors. Under the leadership of CEO Tim Cook, Apple started returning some of its massive cash hoard to investors. Shareholders, such as activist Carl Icahn, asked for even more, and Apple earlier this year revealed a big increase to its dividend and share repurchase program, along with the stock split. The company boosted the amount of cash that it's returning to shareholders by about $30 billion to more than $130 billion.

Apple's shares remained below $100 today. They rose $1.48, or less than 2 percent, and closed at $93.70 in regular Nasdaq trading.

Apple has split its stock three times in the past, with payable dates of June 15, 1987; June 21, 2000; and February 28, 2005. Those splits came after Apple's shares crossed $100. In 2007, Steve Jobs was asked whether Apple was planning another stock split when the shares once again gained. He said no, citing Google and Berkshire Hathaway, whose shares hadn't been split.

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Apple's 7-for-1 stock split went into effect Monday. Screenshot by Shara Tibken/CNET

Cook, however, has taken a more investor-friendly approach, instituting the company's first dividend and buying back millions in stock. From August 2012 through March 2014, Apple has spent $66 billion in cash on its capital return program. The dividend and repurchase bring Apple's current capital-return program to over $130 billion from its current level of $100 billion.

"We continue to be in the fortunate position of being able to return significant capital to shareholders," Cook said in April.

Apple continues to sell millions of iPhones and iPads, but demand for the devices has started to slow. Google' Android software, and particularly vendors such as Samsung, have been gaining market share and also have made inroads in former Apple strongholds like education. Apple also hasn't released any truly revolutionary products since the iPad in 2010, while rivals such as Samsung introduce new devices every few months.

The company last week at its Worldwide Developer Conference unveiled iOS 8, its latest mobile operating system and its desktop-based Mac OS X Yosemite, but most of the additions are minor. On the mobile end, many features are already available on Android, and even BlackBerry and Windows Phone. It introduced new health and smart home programs, but spent so little time on them and didn't provide many details about their future uses.

Update, 3:17 p.m. PT: Adds Apple's closing price.

 

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