.by Anura Guruge
I used to be an IPO junkie. The very first stock that I ever bought was an IPO of sorts, dear Margaret Thatcher’s ‘British Telecom‘ (BT) privatization lottery. I got an allocation, and unlike others, I, as ever, played by the rules, and only submitted one entry. I was hooked. BT, to start with, did extremely well. I then participated in every other ‘British’ privatization IPO: BP, BA, BAA etc. etc. To say I was right in the thick of the ‘dot.com’ mania would be an understatement. It was my life. I consulted for so many of the major players. I was at the Wellfleet office in Burlington the day they went public – though I can’t remember whether they gave me an allocation! I do remember with great fondness that CrossComm, a company that I spent a lot of time with, did put me on their ‘friends & family‘ list and as such I did get an allocation. I am sure I made money on that.
I took part in IPOs by rote. It was the thing to do. Yes, of course, I got burned. But, it was fun. Part of the dot.com mania.
Given that I have been with them since about 1989, though I am but a very small minnow when it comes to assets owned, Fidelity does allow me to bid on IPO allocations. Since I tend to be ‘long’ (though my son the investment whiz of 2013 is trying to cure me of that bad habit) I usually don’t bid for IPOs since I don’t have ‘cash’ lying around.
In 2008 I did bid for VISA (V) and was amazed and jumping for joy when I got an allocation. That and the ‘Bear Stearns‘ stock I bought the day they went BUST ensured that 2008 wasn’t as painful as it was for others.
Recently I haven’t been that fortunate and I had stopped asking. I asked for VMWare and LinkedIn and was overlooked. I didn’t bother with FaceBook (FB). Instead, just for fun, I bought 5 shares, on the IPO day for “free” (i.e., using money from an options call) just to say that I had participated in the IPO of the ‘year’. Yes, those 5 shares are NOW making money after a year.
Until now I have never encountered restrictions on selling IPO shares.
Flipping IPOs at the pop was what you were supposed to do. That how you made the ‘BIG’ bucks.
Last week after I sold the last of my Apple (APPL) stock I looked at the IPO market as a ‘good’ place to invest some of that hard fought capital. Bid on two, got one: ClubCorp Holdings (MYCC).
But, it came with a NO FLIPPING warning from Fidelity. Stopped me in my tracks. Seemed so UnAmerican. You can’t flip IPO shares? What next? You are going to be forced to buy healthcare insurance?
I called. As ever they are very, very nice and helpful. Appears that other brokerages do the same thing too; i.e., protect the major shareholder SELLERS by preventing new owners from dumping their shares.
So here is the Fidelity rules on it. Yes, you can sell BUT then you incur their wrath with a penalty. So, as of now I am going to think twice about asking for IPOs.