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Old 09-07-2010, 01:29 PM   #21
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I appreciate the timing of this thread, as i have been wrestling with selling my more than 600 shares (may not seem like a lot to some of you) of company stock given to me through my 401k match (vested immediately). This chunk of stock makes up almost 1/3 of my total portfolio. it's very difficult when my company's stock has been yielding ~3.9% and i keep fooling myself into thinking i should wait for this ex div date AND a certain price (i also throw in a, "i'm under 30, so it's an acceptable risk"). only to find myself waiting for the next ex div date. of course, as dangermouse says, there will be more stock delved out in my unfortunate subsequent decades of w*rking.

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Bad things happen to good companies through no fault of their own. It is called non-systematic risk and is what diversification was invented for. Why take the risk of so much concentration?
as i work for a large "energy" company, I can't help but think, "what if I worked for BP?" (no debate on if BP is a "good company" needed, us peons have very little control or knowledge of what is going on elsewhere).

bottom line: reducing my risk, putting money else where in my 401k this week. all thanks to this thread.
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Old 09-07-2010, 01:39 PM   #22
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Wasn't there an energy company called Enron....
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Old 09-07-2010, 02:36 PM   #23
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touche. i work for an E&P company, so i tend to not to relate the two. but...point well taken.
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Old 09-07-2010, 02:50 PM   #24
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Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Carlos Slim all made their money by holding a limited varitety of stock. But then they can afford a meltdown now.

My FIL held his company stock (his only holding) until it was worthless.

Because you have no special tax liability, I think you can afford to begin a program of diversification immediately (Jan. 1). Select high quality individual stocks (or ETFs if you can't get comfortable with all the individual decisions).

PS: DW and I still hold $150K in our company stock (for old times sake). But it has been a consistent dividend payer. And it is currently trading within 8% of its all-time high.
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Old 09-07-2010, 03:35 PM   #25
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I don't think if you divest yourself of your stock there is any pressure to do anything with the money. Stick it in the bank for a while until you work it out. I would rather have cash in the bank earning 1% than keeping money in shares that might be losing 10%. I really think you need to diversify unless you are more than happy to keep working forever if the market goes south.

Audrey's situation is not unique, I know other people who benefited as she did. However, this was thru the end of the 90s, don't hear of anyone getting rich and becoming millionaires thru options very much these days. We know people who purchased their options so as to minimise their tax burden, within the year the share price had halved. One person we know admits he has losses in the region of $250k which he is able to deduct $3k at a time. 10 years later the company involved, their price has not yet recovered.

I think you have to decided where you sit on the comfort scale. Do you want this to be your ticket out of work, are you happy if it just enhances what you already have or are you prepared to ride the rollercoaster?
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Old 09-07-2010, 04:08 PM   #26
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When I made my first big divestment of company stock (to cash initially), I gave myself 2 years to average quarterly into the market. I didn't worry about opportunity loss over those next two years, which turned out to be a good thing as it was 1999, and I got better prices as time went on. I didn't worry about "getting the portfolio performing" in the short term, but rather focused building a good long-term portfolio. I did have a few years expenses already set aside.

If my company had been bought out by an acquiring company, and I had already had to pay cap-gains on what I owned, I would be strongly tempted to sell most of the acquiring company's stock unless I thought there was something very special about it.

I had already selected an asset allocation and a set of mutual funds to fulfill that allocation when I divested. Still - averaging in you have time to tweak things if you want to change some funds around. Once you are mostly invested, there tend to be significant tax consequences for selling an asset, unless the markets sell off strongly in which case you can tax loss harvest while changing funds.

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Old 09-07-2010, 04:21 PM   #27
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Well, I got to ER very early by doing the exact opposite - staying concentrated in company stock until it was big enough to diversify, pay my cap gains taxes, and retire.
I think you're one of the very few who didn't get pecked to death by black swans. I wish there were good studies & stats on the ratio of successes to flameouts in your situation-- 1:10? 1:20?

Same situation as the military-- a 20-year retirement looks like a pretty sweet deal as long as you overlook the ones who are killed or disabled.

I remember a story told by one of this board's members. He religiously executed his options and sold out as soon as they were available, for about a decade was regarded as an idiot, and then ER'd. He was at a co-worker's house one day, saw some paperwork she'd left on her table, and commented "Hey, your options are worth $7M! You could ER right now!!" Her response was "I guess I could, but I want to travel." She held on and she's still working.

I've been watching a lot of startup founders hold on to their stock. However their attitude is that they're going to keep it as long as they're in the business, and they're usually never going to retire in the first place.
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Old 09-07-2010, 06:50 PM   #28
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I have owned my shares in the acquired company outright for almost four years, and I will be paying long term capital gains in 2010 on both the cash and stock components of the acquiring company's payment for those shares. My basis in the acquiring company's stock will be its price on the closing date (probably 11/30/10), so a quick sale would not result in much of a gain or loss.
It seems you have no short term capital gains liability. Why then wait one year if you feel it is unwise to hold 56% in one stock?

Quote:
getting a high price for the sold stock, and paying a low price for the purchased assets.
./.
4. After 12 months, begin selling the stock in tranches when its price is high in order to fund ongoing dollar-cost-averaging into the desired asset allocation.
Of course, the opposite might also happen – your stock price is lower and the diversifying assets are all more expensive. Or, your stock price is unchanged but other assets have risen. Holding to convert short term gain into long term gain is not the same as holding and hoping for long term gain.

Not selling everything now because you don’t know what to do makes sense. Two things you can do now:
Quote:
1. Use some of the cash to build a CD ladder to cover three years of expenses.
2. Allocate more of the cash to a money market account covering two years of expenses.
You can also get some very good ideas for asset allocations at bogleheads, here, and also reading a couple of books. William Bernstein is a great first step, and there are other authors also with excellent credentials. Efficient Frontier
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Old 09-07-2010, 08:03 PM   #29
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I think you're one of the very few who didn't get pecked to death by black swans. I wish there were good studies & stats on the ratio of successes to flameouts in your situation-- 1:10? 1:20?
I think I was one of the few in the late 90s who wasn't retiring or suddenly wealthy because of a sudden and unprecedented run-up in my company's stock. My company was more of a sleeper. It seems that many folks experienced a sudden, unexpected run up of net worth in 98, 99, and hung on trying to maximize gains before exercising options. That was not my situation as I already owned all my stock outright with a very low basis. It just happened to coincide with the same time period. I had had co-workers who retired a few years before me, and a few years after. I think each person basically did so when they met their magic number.

I did divest as soon as I had enough to comfortably retire. Your example was of a person who had more than enough but hung on for various reasons. Maybe they weren't really ready to retire. I bet that happened to a lot of folks.

IMO the probabilities don't ultimately matter. Each situation is unique. You have to decide what kind of risks make sense in your own personal situation.

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Old 09-07-2010, 08:30 PM   #30
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as i work for a large "energy" company, I can't help but think, "what if I worked for BP?" (no debate on if BP is a "good company" needed, us peons have very little control or knowledge of what is going on elsewhere).
My husband recently retired from a company adversely affected by the oil spill through no fault of its own. Last year the company did very, very well compared to its industry peers (and DH got a really nice bonus). This year the same company, same management, same good employees is at the bottom of the barrel and the employees won't get that bonus.

DH told me that when he told people he was retiring a number of people told him they had planned to soon retire but now couldn't. Why? Company makes matching 401k contributions in company stock. Many of them have held onto the stock all along and it now forms a large chunk of their 401k.

When DH and I got married I told him it was foolish to keep company stock in his 401k (this was pre-Enron but it was obvious to me). He groused a bit but over the years we would let the stock build up a bit but sell it before it became a significant part of his portfolio.

Since the oil spill the company stock went down but it had no real impact on him since he had so little of it. However for some people it meant they couldn't retire right now.
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Old 09-07-2010, 09:02 PM   #31
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Marc, I don't see the short term tax liability if you are at basis, so why take the risk of holding 12 months. Anything that can go up 90% in 17 months can go down 90% in 17 months.
I don't see a need to average out or average in. If you lump sum out you can lump sum in without taking on equity risk, the only thing that happens is you exchange single company risk for a safer alternative of total market risk (assuming you buy vanguard total market fund, maybe an S&P 500 fund) and it sounds like you'll pay off some debt and set aside 5 years cash and cd's so again a much more stable set up.
The fact you want about 5 years of cash and cd's on hand suggests a much more conservative AA than someone who would hold 56% of portfoloio in a single stock.
Asset Allocation should be based on willingness need and ability to take risk. In your case you don't appear to have the need. So even if you're willing why do it?
To my thinking if you really feel you know the industry and the company and you want to be a gambler keep enough of the stock to represent 5 or 10% anything over that is tough to figure.
I would also repeat the advice to look at a hedge to ensure you protect what you have from now until this deal closes.
Plenty of fun figuring out exactly what AA and fund choices you might like but the easy choice is get rid of the single stock risk.

Good luck!
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Old 09-07-2010, 09:43 PM   #32
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When I made my first big divestment of company stock (to cash initially), I gave myself 2 years to average quarterly into the market. I didn't worry about opportunity loss over those next two years, which turned out to be a good thing as it was 1999, and I got better prices as time went on. I didn't worry about "getting the portfolio performing" in the short term, but rather focused building a good long-term portfolio. I did have a few years expenses already set aside.
I'm reluctant to pursue a strategy that ensures that the portfolio will lose real value in the first couple of years due to inflation and withdrawals not balanced by sufficient dividends, interest, and/or growth. To get comfortable with it, I think I would need to develop a more quantitative understanding of the historical benefits of dollar cost averaging when compared with immediate deployment in dividend-yielding equities.
Quote:
If my company had been bought out by an acquiring company, and I had already had to pay cap-gains on what I owned, I would be strongly tempted to sell most of the acquiring company's stock unless I thought there was something very special about it.
It’s clear from all the recent remarks that this is the consensus advice. I see now that I miscommunicated and caused many to think that the possible one-year wait was for favorable tax treatment on the entire asset. I was just thinking that it would be nice to be able to pay at the long term rate for incremental gains as I sold profitable tranches periodically to support a gradual transition into the desired AA. Plus I’m having difficulty letting go of the uncommonly high (8.4%) dividend yield. The idea that the portfolio can earn a year’s withdrawal, an inflation adjustment, and then some through the utter sloth and inertia of simply holding the stock they give me resonates emotionally even though I know it's not the smart play.
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:28 PM   #33
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You are probably already aware that LT cap gains tax rate will likely be higher in 2011 as will the tax rate on qualified dividends. This should be factored into what you decide to do.
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:29 PM   #34
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Really appreciate all of your ideas and advice - very helpful! I would like to clarify one point - this is not a stock option scenario. I have owned my shares in the acquired company outright for almost four years, and I will be paying long term capital gains in 2010 on both the cash and stock components of the acquiring company's payment for those shares. My basis in the acquiring company's stock will be its price on the closing date (probably 11/30/10), so a quick sale would not result in much of a gain or loss.

Also, I'm not receiving dividends today as I won't take possession of the acquiring company's stock until closing. The first dividend should be granted on 12/27/10.

My biggest concerns with a quick sale are knowing what to buy, making the purchases quickly enough to get the portfolio performing, getting a high price for the sold stock, and paying a low price for the purchased assets. If not for the single stock concentration risk, I would

1. Use some of the cash to build a CD ladder to cover three years of expenses.
2. Allocate more of the cash to a money market account covering two years of expenses.
3. Over the first 12 months, dollar-cost-average the remainder of the cash into longer term investments that improve the overall asset allocation.
4. After 12 months, begin selling the stock in tranches when its price is high in order to fund ongoing dollar-cost-averaging into the desired asset allocation.

I like this idea because it mitigates all of the "sell it all on Day 1" risks and lets me come up to speed more slowly and systematically.

Of course, the risk is real, which is why I'm so interested in all of your thoughts!
A few years before retiring from Intel I had 76% of my assets tied into the companies stock. Normally, for someone with a concentrated position. I'd discuss the use of covered calls and collars to slowly divest over time and minimize the tax consequences. Frankly you situation is much easier and Nords is right. You should sell a large portion of your position and do most of it before the end of the year. Set a goal to get your position down to 20% (max) <10% (preferred) within a year.

Lets exam the good reasons for maintaining a concentrated position.

1. You are officer of the company and you have corporate/sec regulations that make it difficult to sell.

2. Your position and/or tenure give you special insight into the companies future prospects that is better than an analyst.

3. There are tax advantages for postponing selling

A common but not good reason is
4. An emotional attachment to the company.

Now for me and many other people 2-4 are pretty common. In your case you haven't worked a day for the acquiring corporation so
neither 2 or 4 apply. In fact I'd argue that #3 taxes makes a strong case to sell now.

If Congress does nothing (and it seems pretty likely to me) the Bush cuts expire and capital gains jump from 15-20%, dividend income is treated as ordinary income. Even if Congress actually does something I find it hard to imagine that maintaining "tax cuts for the rich" is something that is going to pass. Even if they maintain the 15% capital gains rate and special rules for dividends, I suspect that somebody selling several hundred thousand (or more) worth of stock is going to be considered rich. So why not act this year and take advantage of the lowest capital gains we are likely to have for sometime.?

It seems to me that only two reason you have for not selling is fear that I sold at the right time and I don't know what to put the money in.
For the first one you certainly can apply dollar cost averaging to get you out of the position, but do it quickly 6-12 months. As for the second one, right now I hate all investment options, but I hate dividend paying stocks slightly less than the other choices, and the 5% Penfed CD doesn't suck too much. However all of other investment dilemmas you face, really pale compared to having more than 1/2 of your assets in a single company.

Finally a word about dividend stocks, when I first came on to this forum I thought dividend stocks were Nirvana, sure you need some cash and some bonds but dividend stocks were great because the gradually increased dividends. Even if the price dropped 50% you didn't care much because your income remained constant. This seemed true up until fall of 2008, when every bank stock I own slashed its dividend and even quasi-banks like GE followed suite, and finally Pfizer cuts its in 1/2. Suddenly my dividends don't look as good as bonds (except for GM bonds ) and no where near as good as a CD.

Imagine if you were one of the founders of an small oil firm acquired by BP over the last year or so, AFAIK they would often give you a choice of BP stock instead of cash. You are comfortable collecting the prodigious dividend checks and enjoying your retirement until the spill happens. Now stock drops by almost 1/2 and the dividend checks? The stop for who knows how long. I bet plenty of those folks wish they had diversified.

To summarize in the words of Cramer sell sell sell.


BTW, I had very enjoyable few years as kid in Evansville.
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:50 PM   #35
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I'm reluctant to pursue a strategy that ensures that the portfolio will lose real value in the first couple of years due to inflation and withdrawals not balanced by sufficient dividends, interest, and/or growth. To get comfortable with it, I think I would need to develop a more quantitative understanding of the historical benefits of dollar cost averaging when compared with immediate deployment in dividend-yielding equities.
I think you are unrealistic in thinking that real value loss is assured. You just don't know what will happen during the first couple of years. There might be deflation instead of inflation. There might be a market selloff instead of a gain. That is why people hedge their bets when investing a lump sum.

If you plan a dividend investment strategy instead of a total return approach, that is another matter. But prudently investing for dividends requires an experienced stock investor and a lot of hard work researching and then tracking. There are a few on this board who are experienced in this. And many of them avoid stocks with an unusually high dividend yield as it often signals a serious problem such as the dividend is likely to be cut in the near future - but you have to know enough to evaluate the company's risks and evaluate it with respect to other companies in the same business. I think you are unrealistic to think you can pick winners right off the bat unless you are an experienced stock investor.

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Old 09-08-2010, 02:18 PM   #36
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The idea that the portfolio can earn a year’s withdrawal, an inflation adjustment, and then some through the utter sloth and inertia of simply holding the stock they give me resonates emotionally even though I know it's not the smart play.
Yes, but can it survive?

A portfolio can also earn a year’s withdrawal, an inflation adjustment, and then some when it is allocated among asset classes that combined offer much of the upside while limiting the downside, and with substantially greater survivorship potential.

As to the high dividend, two comments:

High yields, whether in dividends, bonds, or savings accounts, are always a sign of increased risk. The higher the number the greater the risk, no exceptions. Nothing wrong with that as long as you are capable of assessing and accepting it.

Over a 50 year retirement plan dividend growth is much more important that current yield.
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:34 PM   #37
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I don't have a lot to add to the discussion except to say that VA Collector's story about his devastating losses from just this scenario still haunt me (and I'm not exaggerating).

I cannot imagine going through the same thing and would do whatever it took to diversify out of a possibility of experiencing the same nightmare. Nords is right; investor psychology is a huge part of what we do as investors (or as investment professionals).

I've used Va Collector's story countless times to talk about these very real risks and the heartbreak that can come from not mitigating them to the best of your ability.
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:45 PM   #38
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I didn't see the very high yield before I posted. In my mind a generous dividend in this environment is 5%, 8.4% activates the flashing yellow lights, and "if it looks too good to be true it probably is" sign.

I check Morningstar database of the 10,000+ stocks they cover only 141 have a dividend yield of >8%. Now while there are probably a number of those 141 which have good prospects of maintain their dividends (and I've even own some of the names in the past, like shipping companies and oil MPs). Looking at the list their are lot of troubled companies, in many case the M* analysts believe that the companies will have trouble maintaining the dividend. Obviously you want to check out all of the information about the company.
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Old 09-08-2010, 08:20 PM   #39
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I'm reluctant to pursue a strategy that ensures that the portfolio will lose real value in the first couple of years due to inflation and withdrawals not balanced by sufficient dividends, interest, and/or growth. To get comfortable with it, I think I would need to develop a more quantitative understanding of the historical benefits of dollar cost averaging when compared with immediate deployment in dividend-yielding equities.
It’s clear from all the recent remarks that this is the consensus advice. I see now that I miscommunicated and caused many to think that the possible one-year wait was for favorable tax treatment on the entire asset. I was just thinking that it would be nice to be able to pay at the long term rate for incremental gains as I sold profitable tranches periodically to support a gradual transition into the desired AA. Plus I’m having difficulty letting go of the uncommonly high (8.4%) dividend yield. The idea that the portfolio can earn a year’s withdrawal, an inflation adjustment, and then some through the utter sloth and inertia of simply holding the stock they give me resonates emotionally even though I know it's not the smart play.
Best of luck (seriously!). Keep us posted on how it works out. Just be clear that one should not confuse a good outcome with a good strategy.
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:48 PM   #40
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The issue you have to deal with is not the likelihood of a bad outcome but the consequence if the price falls and does not eventually fluctuate back up.
As I see it, this is the sole issue. All else is noise. If you gamble, and that is what you will be doing if you decide to let it ride- perhaps a short odds gamble, but a gamble none-the-less- then you have (according to you) a good chance of coming out richer than if you sell right away. However, if you lose you are screwed.

Worrying about what you will do with the money, whether you will DCA, etc., is way down on the list of things to think about.

Also, many of these issues can be finessed by hedging your position as suggested by Brewer and I believe others.

Ha
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