Are All Penny Stocks Created Equal?

Amazingly enough, a number of American financial sector stocks were thrown into penny stock realm in the past two weeks. In the past few months, even bigger banks declared bankruptcy.

The SEC defines penny stocks as “low-priced (below $5), speculative securities of very small companies. While penny stocks generally are quoted over-the-counter, such as on the OTCBB or in the Pink Sheets, they may also trade on securities exchanges, including foreign securities exchanges. In addition, penny stocks include the securities of certain private companies with no active trading market.”

By this definition, the financial sector stocks like Citibank and Bank of America, are penny stocks.

Last fall, the SEC took the unprecedented action of banning short sales and calling for a short cover on financial sector stocks that taken a beating by the shorts. It’s a lament that penny stock companies have been complaining of for years, but went unheeded.

And now these established, down-on-their-luck financial companies have convinced the American public that they are deserving of billions in taxpayer dollars because they are established companies and not traditional penny stocks as defined by the SEC.

So what have we really done for these behemoths? We’ve altered the definition of penny stocks to accommodate them. We’ve altered the level playing field by exempting them from short sellers. And now we’re giving them tax dollars like some government sponsored clinic while hard working entrepreneurs have to fight for their place in this shrinking economy.

Are these billion dollar bailout babies really that different from your traditionally defined penny stock?

Traditionally, risk characteristics attributed to penny stocks include:

1. Penny stock companies are usually start-ups that lack of information about the company, its history and its management. I would argue that financial sector companies suffer from the same lack of transparency. After all, how could anyone not see the leverage and the misguided asset classifications and still invest in these behemoths? The derivatives are way too complicated for the layman to analyze. So we rely on the banks to tell us the truth, while they have a conflict.

2. Large control blocks. Penny stock company founders traditionally have a large block of stock (albeit restricted) to ensure their interests are aligned with the rest of the shareholders while ensuring they cannot sell their shares for a quick profit at the detriment of other shareholders. In the financial sector, these large blocks are held by fund managers who similarly cannot sell their blocks quickly without lowering the market price and thereby impairing the return to themselves. What’s more, the CEO’s of the companies barely have any stock in their portfolios, eliminating the alignment with shareholder values. Instead, it’s become vogue to pay these CEO’s via stock options, giving them an incentive to show short term results and then cash out their options while the rest of the investing public holds shares that were sold by insiders.

This is done by using unwitting brokers, paid analysts and unquestioning media to tow the company line. And because the CEO’s and the companies have been held in high esteem, no one questions the use of these tools or their motives.

Penny stock companies often use similar tools. Only with a penny stock it’s called stock promotion. And penny stock companies have better motives: without stock promotion, the best company in the world won’t be worth anything because no one would have heard of it – and therefore the enterprise would be hard pressed to raise money for growth. Promotion should be a driving investment criterion for choosing a penny stock.

The issue with promotion is that the SEC often believes that stock promotion involving a penny stock needs more supervision than the promotion being conducted by billion dollar house hold names. Is there in fact an opportunity for fraud in the penny stock market? Of course there is.

But I contend that the risk is much higher with well established companies that have CEO’s holding stock options (big motive for early liquidation since options expire) rather than actual restricted stock (unsellable) for which they actually paid (as many penny stock companies experience). Empirical proof is offered by the billions lost in the financial sector right under the nose of, and with the blessing of the SEC and other regulatory bodies than has ever been lost on penny stocks.

3. Penny stocks are often accused of being used by scam artists who sell them through spam email or off-shore brokers. As the recent IRS/SEC probes have proven, many, many, many American CEO’s have offshore accounts making them no more honest or dishonest than the operators of penny stock companies.

Both traditional penny stock startups and the fallen as exemplified by the financial sector have the potential for growth and for fraud. Both are blighted by cash requirements, by short sellers and by image problems.

The difference is that the fallen companies have the government and SEC fighting for them while the typical startup penny stock company is vilified. The dichotomy is even more surprising when we stop to think that economists have long been telling us, and the American experience has long proved that the start-up is what drives the economy, diversifies the job base, creates the most jobs and is lean enough to take advantage of changing times.

So I ask you America: Are all Penny Stocks Created Equal?

We believe that investing in well chosen, well researched penny stocks provides a superior return to investing in mainstream equities. Our proprietary formula not only evaluates a company in the traditional sense, but also gives importance to the stock promoter promoting the company. We also always hire outside independent research in the form of a CFA report to ensure we’ve missed nothing.

Penny stocks offer the advantages of low price, high inside ownership, the absences of the ability to short and of derivative manipulations. In short, they are more transparent. The disadvantage of low visibility is over come by the choice of the right promoter. Our years of experience in this business has allowed us to identify good promoters from bad…in fact we make available a publication that shows anyone how to “Spot a Good Promoter”.

Author: Zach Soloman
Article Source:
Healing food: natural way to cure cancer

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply