January 13, 2012
WSJ: Are Green Bay Packers Shares Deductible as Worthless Stock?
Wall Street Journal, Are the Green Bay Packers the Worst Stock in America?, by Laura Saunders:
It costs $250 a share, pays no dividends, benefits from no earnings, isn’t tradeable and has no securities-law protection.
And buyers can’t get enough.
Green Bay Packers stock is still selling like hotcakes. More than 250,000 shares have been sold since the first share offering in 15 years was announced on Dec. 6. Demand has been so great that the team expanded the offering, which runs through Feb. 29, by 30,000 shares. ...
Although the offering document calls the shares “common stock,” they confer almost none of the advantages of a traditional stock. The document warns that buyers “should not purchase common stock with the purpose of making a profit.”
A purchase doesn’t even bump buyers higher up the Packers’ 96,000-strong waiting list for tickets or allow them to buy T-shirts and cheesehead hats at a discount.
“I’ve never seen a stock offering where people pay so much and get so little,” says Robert Willens, a New York Jets fan and tax expert who has worked on Wall Street deals for four decades.
What do buyers actually get? A paper certificate, and the right to attend an annual meeting in the summer where their voting power is “insubstantial.” They also may buy shareholder-only merchandise. ...So meager are the monetary benefits of owning Packers’ stock that Willens, the tax expert, thinks a purchase might be tax-deductible right after shares are bought. “They meet the conditions of worthless stock, in that it has no pecuniary value for the owner,” he says. “Better a small tax benefit than none at all.”
Ed Kleinbard, a former top tax staffer in Congress who’s now a professor at USC’s law school, is an Oakland Raiders fan but he disagrees about the tax deduction. “The stock isn’t worthless as long as someone will buy it, although I wouldn’t,” he says. “Maybe it’s a collectible.”
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What do shareholders get? Participation in community ownership of the only NFL team that is or can be owned by the people who live in Wisconsin. The league has passed rules prohibiting other teams from following its model, so it will always be unique.
Community ownership means that the team will never leave Green Bay.
Posted by: M. Sean Fosmire | Jan 14, 2012 6:40:57 AM
Wow, I doubt it's even "stock" (e.g., no rights to liqidating distributions). Even if so, it's stupid to think something you just paid $250 for in an arms length transaction is worthless just because it was a dumb purchase (question is how many others would be willing to make a similarly dumb purchase). One thing is sure though, the team definitely wont leave if it can sell pieces of paper to fans for $250 a pop.
Posted by: Matt | Jan 15, 2012 3:16:38 PM