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iShares Plans First Split

Proving once and for all that they do indeed trade like stocks, some exchange-traded funds set plans for a first-ever stock split.

Shareholders in 12 popular iShares funds will split either 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 next month, Barclays Global Investors said Wednesday. Postsplit shares will be in holders' accounts by June 13.

ETFs are index funds that trade on an intraday basis in U.S. stock markets -- just like individual stocks. BGI is the global leader in assets and products in the exchange-traded fund world through its iShares brand, which lists more than 120 ETFs. Investors like ETFs because they offer stocklike liquidity along with the diversification of mutual funds at a low cost.

"We are pleased that the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees have authorized this first-ever stock split of iShares Funds," said Barclays' ETF chief, Lee Kranefuss. "We believe that the split will allow investors easier access at a smaller initial investment to some more popular iShares Funds that have a relatively high share price."

The firm said its iShares MSCI Emerging Markets (EEM), Russell 2000 Value (IWN), S&P SmallCap 600 (IJR) and MSCI-EAFE (EFA) index funds would split 3-for-1 for holders of record June 6.

The Goldman Sachs Natural Resources (IGE), S&P MidCap 400/Barra Growth (IJK), S&P MidCap 400 (IJH), S&P MidCap 400/Barra Value (IJJ), Russell 2000 (IWM), Cohen & Steers Realty Majors (ICF), S&P SmallCap 600/Barra Value (IJS) and Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate (IYR) index funds will split 2-for-1 the same date. The new shares will be paid out June 8.

Kranefuss noted that the total assets of the iShares fund family have jumped 70% since last spring. That has pushed up prices of the individual ETFs: The MSCI Emerging Markets index fund, for instance, recently traded at $204.75, off its 52-week high of $222 but up more than 25% on its year-ago price. The ETF should fetch around $70 after the split.

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