Thursday, December 02, 2004

Today's New York Times has news of some intriguing pieces of action on Wall Street.

The first concerns dotcom remnants in which the SEC has banned trading because their skeletal staffs haven't filed any quarterly reports in years. (Example:, a medical advice site branded by the former surgeon general, which was briefly valued by the all-knowing market at over $1 billion. So much for The Wisdom of Crowds.) In the middle of this article, we discover that shares of Webvan, another corporate zombie, were worth two hundredths of a cent the day before trading was suspended, on a volume of 165 shares. Apparently, someone actually traded 165 shares for 3.3 cents. Plus commissions. Or were there multiple trades? All of which begs the far more important question: Why?

On the more serious side: it's long been possible for people who want to disguise their holdings to adopt messy hedging arrangements in which they can profit from the rise of a stock to which someone else technically holds title. It seems some corporate raiders are discovering that there's benefit in being on the other side of that arrangement -- they're buying enough shares to give them a large voice in how a company is run, and then setting up a hedge in which someone else assumes all the financial risk associated with ownership. What's left for the raider is pure power, with nothing at risk, no matter how bad they screw it up. So the same impunity that Dubya had in the Texas oilpatch is now available to anyone... with the right connections.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A sale of 165 shares in December was certainly for the purpose of establishing a realized tax loss. Probably a broker bought them for 3 cents to accomodate a client's wishes.

2:49 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home