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On New Issues and Securities Stabilization

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A Primer for Physician Investors and Medical Professionals

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

[Editor-in-Chief] http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

[PART 3 OF 8]

NEU Dr. Marcinko

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.

Introduction

Some securities issues move very well, like traditional blue chips stocks (ie., Wallgreen). Some are dogs, like smaller dot.com companies (iixl.com). Then, there are issues that are former darling, but are now ice cold; like PPMCs (i.e., Phycor) and internet stocks (i.e., Dr. Koop).  How far can an underwriting manager go in nudging along an issue that’s not selling well? SEC rules do permit a certain amount of help by the manager, even if this takes on the appearance of price-fixing. This help is called stabilizing the issue.

Simply put, if shortly after a new offering begins, supply exceeds demand, there will be downward pressure on the price. But, the law requires that all purchasers of the new issue pay the official offering price on the prospectus. If public holders of the stock become willing to bail out and accept a low selling price, the investor looking to buy will find he is able to buy stock of the issuer cheaper in the open market than buying it new from the syndicate members.

To prevent such a decline in the price of a security during a public offering, SEC rules permit the manager to offer to buy shares in \ the open market at a bid price at, or just below, the official offering price of the new issue. This is referred to as stabilizing and his bid price is called the stabilizing bid. There is always the risk, in a firm commitment underwriting, that the underwriters will have difficulty selling the new issue. What they can’t sell, they’re “stuck” with. That’s where the term “sticky issue” comes from.

As a physician executive, or potential investor in a new issue, be aware that the best way to get an issue to sell is to increase the compensation to the sales force (i.e., stock broker or Registered Rep).

Another choice is through stabilization. Stabilizing is a permitted form of market manipulation which tends to protect underwriters against loss. It allows the underwriting syndicate (usually through the efforts of the syndicate manager) to stabilize (peg or fix) the secondary market trading price in a new issue at the published public offering price. It works something like this.

When a new issue is selling slowly, some of the investors who initially purchased, may be dissatisfied with the performance of the stock (if it is selling slowly and the underwriters have plenty to sell at the public offering price, this is anything but a hot issue and the security price will not have risen).

This dissatisfaction with performance leads to these investors desiring to sell the securities they have just purchased. If the underwriters are unable to sell at the public offering price, certainly an individual investor will have to take less when bailing out. As market makers begin to trade the stock in the secondary market, they would only be able to compete with the underwriters by offering the stock at a lower price than the public offering  price. This would make it difficult (if not impossible) for the underwriters to distribute the remaining new shares.

In order to prevent this from happening, the managing underwriter (who is usually the one to assume the role of stabilizing underwriter), agrees to purchase back any of the new shares at or just slightly below the public offering price. That is a higher price than any market maker could, in all practicality, bid for the shares. When the shares are repurchased by the stabilizing underwriter, it is as if the initial trade were annulled and never took place so that these new shares are now placed back into the distribution and are sold as new shares at the public offering price. SEC rules do, however, require disclosure of this practice.

Therefore, no syndicate manager may engage in stabilizing unless the following phrase appears in bold print on the inside front cover page of the prospectus:

IN CONNECTION WITH THIS OFFERING, THE UNDERWRITERS MAY OVER ALLOT OR EFFECT TRANSACTIONS WHICH STABILIZE OR MAINTAIN THE MARKET PRICE OF (XYZ COMPANY) AT A LEVEL ABOVE THAT WHICH MIGHT OTHERWISE PREVAIL IN THE OPEN MARKET. SUCH TRANSACTIONS MAY BE EFFECTED ON (NYSE) STABILIZING, IF COMMENCED, MAY BE DISCONTINUED AT ANY TIME.

Of course, it would be manipulation and, therefore, a violation of law, if this “price-pegging” activity continued after the entire new issue was sold out. This activity costs the syndicate manager money which is recouped by levying a syndicate penalty bid against those members of the syndicate whose clients turn shares in on a stabilizing bid.

One way to avoid stabilization is to over allot  to each of the syndicate members. This is the same concept as “over booking” that’s done by the airlines. Most airlines typically sell 5% to 10% more seats than the airplane has knowing that there will be last minute cancellations and no shows. This tends to ensure that the plan will fly full. In the same manner, managing under-writers frequently over allot an additional 10% to each of their syndicate members so that last minute cancellations should still leave the syndicate with sell orders for 100% of the issue. If there are no “drop outs”, one of two things may happen.

  1. The issuer will issue the additional shares (which results in it raising more money).
  2. The issuer will not issue the additional shares and the syndicate will have to go short. Any losses suffered by the syndicate through taking of this short position are shared proportionately by the syndicate members.

Now, what if market conditions and the fervor surrounding a new issue like e-commerce company Ariba,  in 1999, remain so that the issue doesn’t cool down during the cooling off period? Such hot issues are a mixed blessing to be sure.

On the one hand, the issue is a sure sell-out. On the other hand, just how many healthcare investors are going to be told by brokers that additional shares can not be obtained.

Furthermore, the SEC and the NASD/FINRA are vigorous [or should be] in their scrutiny of  proper distribution channels for hot issues. Just what is a “proper” distribution?  It can be summed up in one sentence. Member firms have an obligation to make a “bona fide” public distribution of all the shares at the public offering price. The key to this rule lies within the definition of bona fide public distribution.

While the underwriting procedures for corporate bonds are almost identical to corporate stock, there are significant differences in the underwriting of municipal securities. Municipal securities are exempt from the registration filing requirements or the Securities Act of 1933. A state or local government, in the issuance of municipal securities, is not required to register the offering with the SEC, so there is no filing of a registration statement and there is no prospectus which would otherwise have to be given to investors.

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  Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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Municipal Underwriting

There are two main methods of financing when it comes to municipal securities. One method is known as negotiated. In the case of a negotiated sale, the municipality looking to borrow money would approach an investment bank and negotiate the terms of the offering directly with the firm. This is really not very different from the above equity discussions.

The other type of municipal underwriting is known as competitive bidding. Under the terms of competitive bidding, an issuer announces that it wishes to borrow money and is looking for syndicates to submit competitive bids. The issue will then be sold to the syndicate which submits the best bid, resulting in the municipality having the lowest net interest cost (lowest expense to the issuer).

If the issue is to be done by a competitive bid, the municipality will use a Notice of Sale to announce that fact. The notice of sale will generally include most or all of the following information.

  • Date, time, and place. This does not mean when the bonds will be sold to the public, but when the issue will be awarded (sold) to the syndicate issuing the bid.
  • Description of the issue and the manner in which the bid is to be made (sealed bid or oral). Type of bond (general obligation, revenue, etc.)
  • Semi-annual interest payment dates and the denominations in which the bonds will be printed.
  • Amount of good faith deposit required, if any.
  • Name of the law firm providing the legal opinion and where to acquire a bid form.
  • The basis upon which the bid will  e awarded, generally the lowest net interest cost.

Since municipal securities are not registered with the SEC, the municipality must hire a law firm in order to make sure that they are issuing the securities in compliance with all state, local and federal laws. This is known as the bond attorney, or independent bond counsel. Some functions are included below:

    1. Establishes the exemption from federal income tax by verifying  requirements for the exemption.
    2. Determines proper authority for the bond issuance.
    3. Identifies and monitors proper issuance procedures.
    4. Examines the physical bond  ertificates to make sure that they are proper
    5. Issues the debt and a legal opinion, since municipal bonds are the only securities that require an opinion.
    6. Does not prepare the official statement.

When medical investors purchase new issue municipal securities from syndicate or selling group members, there is no prospectus to be delivered to investors, but there is a document which is provided to purchasers very similar in nature to a prospectus. It is known as an Official Statement. The Official Statement contains all of the information an investor needs to make a prudent decision regarding a proposed municipal bond purchase.

The formation of a municipal underwriting syndicate is very similar to that for a corporate  issue. When there is a negotiated underwriting, an Agreement Among Underwriters (AAU) is used. When the issue is competitive bid, the agreement is known as a Syndicate Letter. In the syndicate letter, the managing underwriter details all of the underwriting agreements among members of the syndicate. Eastern (undivided) and Western (divided) accounts are also used, but there are  several different types of orders in a municipal underwriting. The traditional types of orders, in priority order, are:

Pre-Sale Order: Made before the syndicate actually offers the bonds. They have first priority over any other order turned in.

Syndicate (group net) Order: Made once the offering is under way at the public offering price. The purchase is credited to each syndicate member in proportion to its allotment. An institutional buyer will frequently purchase” group net”, since many of the firms in the syndicate may consider this buyer to be their client and he wishes to please all of them.

Designated Order: Sales to medical investors (usually healthcare institutions) at the public offering price where the investor designates which member or members of the syndicate are to be given credit.

Member Orders: Purchased  by members of  the syndicate at the take-down price (spread). The syndicate member keeps the full take-down if the bonds are sold to investors, or earns the take-down less the concession if the sale is made to a member of the selling group. Should the offering be over-subscribed, and the demand for the new bonds exceeds the supply, the first orders to be filled are the pre-sale orders. Those are followed by the syndicate (sometimes called group net) orders, the designated orders, and the last orders filled are the member’s.

Finally, be aware that the term bond scale, is a listing of coupon rates, maturity dates, and yield or price at which the syndicate is re-offering the bonds to the public. The scale is usually found in the center of a tombstone ad and on the front cover of the official statement.

One of the reasons why the word “scale” is used is, that like the scale on a piano, it normally goes up. A regular or positive scale is one in which the yield to maturity is lowest on the near term maturities and highest on the long term maturities. This is also known as a positive yield curve, since the longer the maturity, the higher the yield. In times of very tight money, such as in 1980-81, one might find a bond offering with a negative scale.

A negative (sometimes called inverted) scale is just the opposite of a positive one, with, yields on the short term maturities are higher than those on the long term maturities.

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Are Primary Care Doctors Becoming More Like Financial Advisors?

Hospitals [BDs] “versus” Family Practitioners [FAs]

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Editor-in-Chief]

The Big Mistake

Those who believe that hospitals need medical specialists like radiologists, pathologists and oncologists, more than primary care doctors, are mistaken. And, those doctors who believe that the majority of “financial advisors” work for their clients are also mistaken. Here’s why in analogy format.

Why Hospitals Need PCPs

Hospitals generally need primary care physicians, more than specialists, because insurance contracts can be negotiated from a position of strength. A solid [large] primary care panel is a must-have for most insurance contracts. Just recall more than a decade ago – when PCPs were told of an emerging new renaissance where they would reign in place of the medical specialists? It never happened then, but it may happen now following healthcare reform.

Also, recall that the growth of fiduciary Registered Investment Advisors [RIAs] was slow until the stock market collapse of 2008. The pace is accelerating today with the political dawn of financial reform.

Patient’s Love their PCPs – Not their Hospitals

Moreover, please realize that few patients shop around for specialists, or hospitals, as they do for PCPs. OK, the OB-GYNs are unique in that they can play a dual role – as specialist and primary care doctor – just ask my wife who would rather eat nails than change her [female] female doctor.

Hospitals also need PCPs as referring physicians to generate business through their ERs, admissions department, outpatient centers, and/or by ordering invasive and non-invasive radiology tests, images, scans or laboratory tests, and/or sending patients to specialists who will do expensive procedures or surgery in their ORs, hospital and/or related facilities.

Doesn’t this sound like a stock broker working for his wire-house or broker-dealer?  

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

The PCP Loss Leader

Primary care is a loss-leader to hospitals as they make little money directly off medical practices, but can generate a great deal from the referrals and procedures the grass-roots docs generate; especially if they “play the game” like commissioned stockbrokers. And, consider brilliant medical diagnosticians, like TV’s Gregory House MD, and all those tests and procedures they can do – just to be sure!

No wonder that physician-executives and hospital administrators like Dr. Lisa Cuddy of the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, in New Jersey, love them.

Ditto for wire-house office managers and stock-brokerage OSJs [Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction] who love their “top producers”, brokers and FAs.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=operating+room&iid=288202″ src=”0284/9dbd59b4-ffc4-49c4-8b2e-3b568f74dc9d.jpg?adImageId=12660700&imageId=288202″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]

Conflicted Missions

Unfortunately, this shifts the mission of PCPs from keeping patients out of the hospital – as physical and fiscal advocate – to sending them to the hospital as a “heavy admitter-referrer” with resulting perks and swagger.

Thus, “success” of the PCP from a hospital perspective is not to avoid referrals or costly procedures, but to gather them.  However, success is a matter of perspective that may be very unfortunate for the patient, state or federal payer, private employer and/or insurance company.

Financial Advisor Analog

Does this PCP conundrum sound like the conflicted situation found with many “independent” financial advisors today? Are PCPs becoming mere patient gatherers, or profit generating shills, for their hospitals, employers or healthcare systems? Where does one’s duty rest? Are we doctor’s or medical product/procedure merchants?

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Is this analogy correct, or not. Is it too harsh or too gentle – and for whom?

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Financial Advisory Reform Going Down in Flames

A [False] Hobson’s Choice*

By Staff Reporters

In political Washington DC, according to Ian Salisbury, almost anything will fly if you can make an argument it will benefit the middle class. It worked in the fight against requiring advisors to act in clients’ best interests … Say what?

Is this the case of a classic Hobson’s choice?

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=bank+reform&iid=8227139″ src=”c/3/0/3/Sen_Dodd_Discusses_655e.jpg?adImageId=12270785&imageId=8227139″ width=”380″ height=”570″ /]

The Strategy

Yep, its true! At least, this strategy worked for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors [NAIFA], which fought a recent proposal that would have made all financial advisors act in clients’ best interests … you know – the “F” word.

Assessment

It seems that there are few protections for the public from unscrupulous FAs, stockbrokers, and insurance agents. And, few wish to become fiduciaries.

http://www.fa-mag.com/online-extras/5406-a-phony-argument.html

*A Hobson’s choice is a free, usually economic, choice in which only one option is offered.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Please visit: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

As former certified financial planner, insurance agent, stockbroker, surgeon and this ME-P publisher Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA, CMP™ has always opined to physician colleagues: it is “buyer-beware” out there!

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Dr. Somnath Basu on Investing

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By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

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Dr. Somnath Basu is no stranger to the ME-P, or the financial planning community. He is a Professor of Finance at California Lutheran University and the Director of its California Institute of Finance.

Academic Background

Dr Basu earned his BA in Economics, University of Delhi, MBA (Finance), Marquette University and a PhD (Finance), University of Arizona. He is well published and is an award winning teacher. He has significant consulting experience with US Fortune 100 companies, advising institutional money managers and in developing proprietary finance and planning software. He serves on various Boards and committees including the CFP (chaired the Model Curriculum Revision Committee) Board of Standards and the Financial Planning Association.

Basu’s New Book

His new book, co-authored with Professors’ Block and Hirt, Investment Planning for Financial Professionals is available now, published by McGraw Hill, in May 2006.

Link: http://www.amazon.com/Investment-Planning-Geoffrey-Hirt/dp/0071437215/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265918999&sr=1-1

Additional essays by Dr. Basu can be viewed at: http://blog.fpaforfinancialplanning.org/author/somnathbasufpa/

He also writers a column for the Journal of Financial Services Professionals. He can be reached at:

Contact Dr. Somnath Basu
Director – California Institute of Finance
Cell: 805 405 4448
Work: 805 493 3980
http://www.clunet.edu/cif

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