About Securities “Shelf Registration”

A Primer for Physician Investors and Medical Professionals

By: Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

SPONSOR: http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org


[PART 5 OF 8]

Dr. Marcinko with ME-P Fans

NOTE: This is an eight part ME-P series based on a weekend lecture I gave more than a decade ago to an interested group of graduate, business and medical school students. The material is a bit dated and some facts and specifics may have changed since then. But, the overall thought-leadership information of the essay remains interesting and informative. We trust you will enjoy it.


A relatively new method of registration under the Act of ’33 is known as shelf registration. Under this rule, an issuer may register any amount of securities that, at the time the registration statement becomes effective, is reasonably expected to be offered and sold within two years of the initial effective date of the registration. Once registered, the securities may be sold continuously or periodically within 2 years without any waiting period for a registration to clear issuers generally like shelf registration because of the flexibility it gives them to take advantage of changing market conditions.

In addition, the legal, accounting, and printing costs involved in issuance are reduced, since a single registration statement suffices for multiple offerings within the 2 year period. In effect, what the issuer does is register securities that will meet its financing needs for the next 2  years. It issues what it needs at the current time, and puts the balance on the shelf” to be taken off the shelf as needed.


The purchase of common stock in an IPO (initial public offering) is facilitated through of the members an investment bank underwriting syndicate or selling group. This is known as the primary market and the proceeds of sale go directly to the issuing company. Six months later however, if a doctor wants to sell his shares, this would be accomplished in the secondary market. The term secondary market refers to trading in outstanding issues as the proceeds do not go to the issuer, but to the current owner of the securities, such as the physician investor.

Therefore, the secondary market provides liquidity to doctors who acquired securities in the primary market. After a doctor has acquired securities in the primary market, he wants to be able to sell the securities at some point in the future in order to acquire other securities, buy a house, or go on a vacation. Such a sale takes place in the secondary market. The medical investor’s ability to convert the asset (securities) into cash is heavily dependent upon the secondary market. All investors would be hesitant to acquire new securities if they felt they would not subsequently have the ability to sell the securities quickly at a fair price in the secondary market.

Securities Act of 1934

Every trade of stocks and bonds that is not a purchase of a new issue is a trade that takes place in the secondary market. The market place for secondary trading is the stock exchanges and the over-the-counter (OTC) market, and is governed by the Securities Act of 1934, which actually created the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and outlines the powers of the SEC to interpret, supervise, and enforce the securities laws of the United States. The Act of 34 is very broad and governs the sales of securities, including the regulation of securities markets exchanges, OTC markets, broker/dealers, their employees, the conduct of secondary markets, the extension of credit in the purchase and sale of securities, and the conduct of corporate insiders (officers and directors and holders of more than 10% of the outstanding stock). The Act also prohibits fraud and manipulative and deceptive activities in securities transactions

The Stock Exchanges

A stock exchange is a private association of brokers. The main purpose of an exchange is to provide a central meeting place for its member-brokers. This central meeting place is called the floor. It is on the floor that the members trade in securities. It is important to remember that a stock exchange itself does not own any of the securities that are traded on its floor. Nor does it buy or sell any of the securities traded on the exchange. Instead, the securities are owned by member firms, customers, or perhaps, by the exchange member firm itself.

It is also important to remember that a stock exchange does not establish or fix the price at which any security is traded on the exchange. The price is determined in a free and open auction type of trading. It depends on the supply and  demand relationship of that security at a particular time. In other words, if sellers of a stock are offering to sell more shares of that stock than buyers want to buy, the price of that stock will tend to go down. On the other hand, if buyers want to buy more shares of a stock than the sellers are offering to sell, the price of that stock will tend to go higher because of the strong demand.

Any discussion of stock exchanges has to focus on the NYSE, which is by far the largest and most important of the exchanges. There are two exchanges referred to as national stock exchanges, the NYSE and the American Stock Exchange (AMEX). In addition to these two national exchanges, there are several regional stock exchanges including the Philadelphia Exchange, the Chicago Exchange (formerly Midwest), the Pacific Exchange, the Boston Exchange, and the Cincinnati Exchange. Stocks that are traded on an exchange are referred to as listed stocks. The term “listed on an exchange” means that the issue is eligible for trading on the floor of the exchange.

How does a stock become listed? The issuing company, having decided that they wish the prestige and broad visibility of being listed on the NYSE, applies to the exchange for listing. A critical condition for listing is that the issuer agrees to solicit proxies from those common stock shareholders unable to attend shareholder meetings. Once the securities have been accepted for listing (trading) on an exchange, the issuer must continue to meet certain requirements which are not quite as stringent as the original listing requirements, and may be de-listed if the firm ceases to solicit proxies on its existing voting stock, or meet other minimal requirements.

Physically, the exchange brings together buyers and sellers on a trading floor. The NYSE floor is larger than several football fields and is divided into 19 trading posts. Eighteen of the posts are horseshoe or U-shaped stations 100 square feet in area. The nineteenth post (post number 30) is in the northwest corer and really isn’t a post at all; it’s just an area where the inactive stocks trade.

The Specialist

Specialists are experts in trading one or more specific stocks at their particular post on the exchange floor. Their activity is vital to the maintenance of a free and continuous market in the specific issues they represent. They are responsible for conducting the auction at the post. Everyone interested in buying the stock calls out a price and the shares go to the highest bidder. The buyers compete, but there is only one seller. Unlike the usual auction market, the auction on the floor of the exchange is a two way auction with some brokers seeking to buy at the lowest possible price for their doctor clients and other brokers trying to sell at the highest possible price for their doctor clients. When two brokers, one representing a buyer and one a seller, agree on a price, a sale is made. The specialist functions in a dual capacity as a dealer and as a broker. As a dealer or principal, he buys and sells for his own account and risk to maintain a fair and orderly market in the stocks in which he specializes.

For example, if a commission broker approaches the specialist at the post with a buy or sell order, and there are no other brokers in the crowd, that is currently interested in buying or selling the stock, the specialist will buy the stock from that commission broker (if it’s a sell order) for his own account or sell the stock from his inventory (if it’s a buy order). Perhaps, he may even be able to fill the order from his specialist’s book?


Specialist’s Book

This is done by using the specialist’s book of buy orders (bids), marked on the left hand page, or sell orders (offers) on the right. There is a book for each stock in which the specialist specializes. The pages are ruled and are usually printed with fractional stock points at regular intervals to permit easy insertion of orders. The orders are entered in the book by the specialist according to price and in the sequence in which they are received at the post. He notes the number of shares, putting down 1 for 100 shares, 2 for 200 shares, etc. He also notes the name of the member firm placing the order and if the order is Good Till Cancelled (GTC), or not. When orders are executed, they are executed in the same order recorded in the book at that particular price.

The specialist’s book also keeps track of all orders “away from the market ” (limit orders and stop orders) in his book. The book is organized with all buy orders on the left hand side of the page and all sell orders on the right hand side. In the absence of bids and offers from the “trading crowd” on the floor, the specialist can quote the best available market for the security by announcing the highest bid and the lowest offer (ask). The best bid is always the highest buy limit order on his book and the best offer (ask) is always the lowest sell limit on his book. In addition to quoting the best price, he will also give the “size of the market ” which is determined by the number of shares being bid for and offered at the respective best bid and best ask prices. The quote is price and size. When asked to quote the market for a security, the specialist disregards any stop orders on his book since those orders do not become activated until triggered by another trade. One thing to remember is that since most doctors place stop orders to hedge (protect) against a price movement adverse to their interests, most stop orders are entered with the fervent wish that they never be executed.

On stop and limit orders placed below the market, the specialist is required to reduce the price of those orders on the ex-dividend (ex-split, ex-rights) date. The two critical things to remember are: what types of orders are reduced and by how much? The specialist will reduce all GTC (open) buy limit and sell stop orders on an ex-date. You may remember this with the acronym BLISS where the BL equals buy limit and the SS equals sell stop. The only time either of these orders will not be reduced is if the medical client turned in DNR (do not reduce) instructions.

The price of the order is then reduced by enough to equal or exceed the amount of the dividend.

If we go back to the example approaching the specialist to buy or sell stock and there is no one in the “crowd”, the specialist will first give the commission broker a quote from his book. That quote will be the highest bid price (the highest priced limit order to buy on his books) and the best asked price {the lowest priced sell limit on his books). If the commission broker is willing to buy at the lowest ask or offering price on the specialist’s book, then a trade will take place; if the commission broker is looking to sell and is willing to accept the highest bid price on the specialist’s book then, again, a trade will take place. It is the responsibility of the specialist to maintain an orderly market and to keep the spread between the bid and asked prices as narrow as possible. If the spread between bid and asked is too wide to generate market activity, the specialist will act on his own account.

If the specialist is presented with sell orders at the post and he has no buyers, he must bid at least 1/8 of a point higher than the best bid on his books. If he has buyers and no sellers, then he must offer stock from his inventory at a price at least, 1/8 of a point below the lowest offer on his book.

Why? It’s because the specialist cannot “compete” with public orders and if his bid matched a customer’s bid or his offer matched a customer’s offering or ask price, he would be considered to be ” competing”.  Since the specialist is required to bid higher and ask lower than the best public orders on his book, the spread is narrowed. That is why it is said that the specialist acts in a dual capacity, as a dealer and as a broker. When buying and selling for his own account, he is acting as a dealer. The specialist acts as a broker when he executes limit orders left with him by commission brokers. When these limit orders are executed out of the specialist’s book (the doctor’s limit price is reached), the specialist uses a priority, parity, and precedence system, as to which order is executed first. These rules, like most others, are designed to give preference to the general public, not to members of the exchange, on a first come first served basis.

Walking Through a Trade

To see how the transactions are actually handled on the floor of an exchange, let us assume that an order to buy 100 shares of General Electric has been given by a doctor customer to the registered representative (stock broker), of a member firm in Atlanta. The order is a market order (an order to buy at the lowest possible price at the time the order reaches the floor of the exchange). This order is telephoned by direct wire, or computer, to the New York office of the member firm, which in turn telephones its order to its clerk on the floor of the exchange.

Each member firm has at least one member of the exchange representing them making trades on the floor. Each one of these members is assigned a number for identification. When the floor clerk receives the order to purchase the General Electric, he causes his member’s call number to appear on 3 large boards situated so that one is always in view. These boards are constantly watched brokers so that they will know when wanted at the phone, since there’s too much noise on the floor to use a paging system. Seeing his number on the board, the broker hurries to his telephone station or cell phone and receives the order to buy 100 shares of G.E. “at the market”. Acting as a commission broker, he immediately goes to the post where G.E. is traded and asks “how’s G.E”, of the specialist?

Part 4: Underwriting US Government Securities Issues


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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com


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One Response

  1. Dr. Marcinko

    Again, I just love this series.



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