Could AAPL split in a move toward Dow? Bernstein analyst thinks it will

A week after Apple posted its third-quarter earnings for 2012, Bernstein Research analyst A.M. "Toni" Sacconaghi speculates that the time is right for Apple to split its stock if it wants a future spot as an indexed member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The Dow is woefully underpopulated with technology companies, Sacconaghi argues, and IBM and Microsoft were added during a time when the PC market was far less mature than the smartphone market is now. But if Apple was to join the DJIA, the price of the stock would have to come down from the current $607 that it's trading at as of this morning. The Dow is a price-based index with few stocks selling more than $100 a share.

Granted, this is speculation worthy of Chris Rawson's rumor roundups. Despite some headlines indicating that it's practically a done deal, Sacconaghi's scenario is just that -- a "what if" situation. As Barron's Tiernan Ray rightfully points out, Apple has not indicated that it has any current intention of splitting its shares -- although the company has done so three times before, most recently in 2005.

The New York Times's DealBook blog is also considering Apple's fiscal future, pointing out a few possible big-game acquisition targets for the company's ample cash hoard. Writer Andrew Ross Sorkin saves the serious caveats for the end of the post (much of Apple's cash is overseas and cannot be repatriated without a tax hit, for example) after he speculates on some truly blue-sky options for Apple's shopping list. Twitter and Path? Nuance? Sprint? Research In Motion?!?

Despite the reports of past talks between Apple and Twitter, none of these seem particularly likely. If we're throwing darts at the stock listings, though, perhaps Apple will fork over $68 billion and take over Comcast, which would gain it 51% of NBC Universal along with millions of paying cable customers.

[via Reuters]