Articles Tagged with Short Selling

shutterstock_172034843Recently, the law office of Gana Weinstein LLP filed a claim (Complaint) on behalf of its client against Fidelity Brokerage Services (Fidelity) alleging that Fidelity was negligent when one of its registered representatives made an unsuitable recommendation to the client.  The client purchased a stock in the company Lakeland Industries (Ticker Symbol: LAKE) believing that the stock was overvalued and initiated a short position to attempt to profit from the stock’s decline.

A short position allows an investor to sell an investment that the investor does not actually possess. Instead, the investor receives the cash proceeds from the sale and then is obligated, at a future date, to buy back the shares borrowed.  If the value of the stock declines over time then the investor can buy back the stock at a cheaper price than what the investor sold the stock for, making a profit on the difference. Conversely, if the stock’s value increases the investor will have to buy back the stock at a higher value and would lose money.

From October 1, 2014, through October 10, 2014, the client sold short 10,100 shares of LAKE in his Fidelity account. Over the next few days the shares of LAKE increased causing margin calls in the client’s account. The client alleged that he had already added funds to his account to cover previous margin calls. The client wanted to hold the LAKE position and made it clear to Fidelity that he would continue to add funds to cover any margin calls to avoid having his LAKE position liquidated by Fidelity.

On March 5, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the largest monetary sanction for Rule 105 short selling violations. A Long Island-based proprietary trading firm, Worldwide Capital, and its owner, Jeffrey W. Lynn, agreed to pay $7.2 million to settle the charges against them.

According to the SEC, Rule 105 prohibits short selling of an equity security during a restricted period – generally five business days before a public offering – and the subsequent purchase of that same security through the offering. The rule applies, to all equity trades, regardless of the trader’s intent. The rule is designed to promote offering prices that are set naturally by market driven supply and demand.

According to the SEC’s order instituting settled administrative proceedings, Mr. Lynn created Worldwide Capital for the purpose of investing and trading in a strategy focused primarily on new shares of public issuers coming to market through secondary offerings.  Mr. Lynn had traders execute trades on his behalf, seeking allocations of additional shares soon to be publicly offered, usually at a discount to the market price.  He and his traders would then sell those shares short in advance of the public offerings.  Lynn and Worldwide Capital improperly profited from the difference between the price paid to acquire the offered shares, and the market price on the date of the offering.

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