Apple on Friday announced that its Board of Directors has approved a two-for-one split of its common stock. That will increase the number of common shares of Apple's stock from 900 million to 1.8 billion. Each shareholder of record at the close of business on February 18, 2005 will receive one additional share for each outstanding share they hold. Trading of Apple stock will begin on a split-adjusted basis on February 28, 2005, according to the statement.

A two-for-one stock split halves the value of each share, so the intrinsic value of Apple's stock will remain the same after the split. With the stock recently dancing around the $80 per share mark, a split should make Apple's stock price more appealing to skittish investors put off by the high price. The increased liquidity offered by lower-priced shares can make them easier to trade, as well.

Apple's stock has seen a strong year – in the past 52 weeks it's risen from 21.89 to as high as 81.99 this past week, as Wall Street investors have been pleased with the sales of Apple's iPod and the continued success of its iTunes Music Store. Some analysts have predicted that such efforts will yield positive results for the Macintosh's marketshare as well – a so-called "halo" effect that they hope will yield increased adoption of Macs as PC owners who buy iPods are attracted to the computers. Also working in Apple's favour is Mac OS X's immunity to spyware, viruses and other "malware" programmed to exploit vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Windows operating system.

The last time Apple's board authorized a two-for-one split was in June of 2000.

Apple stock closed on Thursday evening at 78.36 per share. The stock had risen to 79.97, up 2.03 per cent, in pre-market trading on Friday.