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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week

3. I Have Made a Very Big Rescission, as Lou Reed Once Said

And this week's award for Most Pointless Securities and Exchange Commission Filing goes to ... Google (GOOG)!
Resistible Rescission
Google's wishful buyback


On Monday, the company filed the rescission offer it's been discussing for a few months.

As Google has previously explained, in the three years leading up to its IPO, the company may have issued stock and options to employees and consultants in violation of federal and state laws. So it's giving the people who received those shares a chance to sell them back to the company.

There's one little catch: Anyone who wants to take Google up on the rescission offer will have to sell shares back at the price they paid for them -- a price, Google says, that ranges from 30 cents to $80. (Google will buy options for 20% of the exercise price per share.) The weighted average price of shares and options is $3.94, says Google.

Google stock, to refresh your memory, is trading on the open market for about $180 per share.

So. Imagine you've got Google shares you bought for 30 cents apiece. Do you resell them on Nasdaq at the market price, or do you sell them back to Google for 30 cents a share?

Tough call.

Now, we can imagine a situation in which someone who bought Google stock for $80 a share might want to sell the stock back to the company. Maybe he is restricted from selling that stock on the open market for a few years; maybe he needs a lot of cash quickly; maybe he's extremely pessimistic about Google's prospects.

But for the life of us, we can't think of any reason why someone who bought stock closer to that $3.94 figure would want to sell.

Actually, we can think of one reason. If you accept the rescission offer, we'll run your picture in our column next week. You'll be the lead item, we promise.

4. One Last Filing With an Old Flame

The dot-com boom is over! Over! Don't you understand?

Well, of course you do. But the SEC seems to be a little slow on the uptake.

On Tuesday, you see, the SEC announced it was suspending trading in the shares of Internet grocer Webvan Group and online health information company DrKoop.com, among other companies, for failure to make required periodic filings.

That sort of makes sense, Webvan and DrKoop.com not making required periodic filings. You want to know why? Because both of those companies filed for bankruptcy three years ago, that's why!!!

Yes, Webvan last filed a 10-Q in May 2001, while DrKoop.com last made a quarterly filing in November of that year. One would sort of think the SEC would be aware of this.

Heady Portrait
Would this fit on a twenty?

The odd thing about this dot-com crackdown is that, compared to the SEC's prior enforcements in this area, it's lightning-fast. Back in June, when the SEC first made a big thing about dead-stock trading suspensions, the feds waited nearly eight years after one company's last filing before getting on the case.

5. Andrew Jackson: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Confronted with the portrait of Andrew Jackson that appeared in Monday's Wall Street Journal, we have a simple set of questions to ask:

Since when did the nation's seventh president -- the man whose face graces our $20 bill -- have a head shaped like a light bulb? Since when did Jackson start looking like a refugee from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"?

"These [portraits] are an artist's rendering," responds a Journal spokesman. "And it's not an exact science."

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