What would 10 original shares be worth now?
Merrill Lynch reported at the time that the average sale of the Ford stock it brokered was about 10 shares.
What would those 10 shares be worth today had the purchaser held them for all these 47 years?
There is no easy and absolute answer. Ford stock has split many times during those five decades. The splits have varied from the more typical 2 to 1 to the more unusual 5 for 4 or
3 for 2. Splits also have varied depending on the class of Ford stock.
In addition, shareholders have received more Ford stock as a result of various actions taken by the company. For instance, stock was distributed when debentures were converted to stock. Stock was issued when the Ford Motor Co. acquired other companies - such as its 1962 purchase of Philco Corp. - and when it spun off companies.
Stock was distributed for the 1998 spinoff of Associates First Capital Corp. and when Ford's Visteon parts operations became an independent, public company in 2000.
To confuse matters further, in some cases, such as with Visteon, investors were offered a range of options; they could take additional shares, cash or various combinations of the two.
Even Ford's investor relations staff won't confirm calculations about what shares purchased in 1956 would be worth. One New York brokerage firm was willing to make an estimate as long as the firm wasn't identified.
From 10 to 290
Its best guess is that those original 10 shares purchased in 1956 would have multiplied into 290 shares.
The investor would have paid $64.50 a share in 1956 for a total price of $645. As of May 1, 2003, with Ford stock trading near one of its lowest levels of the year, the 290 shares would have been worth about $2,900, excluding dividends, which have been significant over the decades.
Were Ford trading at its 52-week high of about $18 a share it would be have been worth $5,220, far above its low for the year of just over $6 a share for a value of about $1,700.
Of course, a lot of the payoff of stock ownership has been in dividends. Dividends have been paid regularly since 1956 with the exception of 1982 and the first two quarters of 1983.
Quarterly dividend payments have ranged from the current 10 cents a share to as high as $1. The typical range has been 30 cents to 80 cents a share.