As I'm sure you have seen by now, the NYSE has decided to temporarily suspend the $1 price minimum requirement and extend the temporary change in market cap minimum from $25M to $15M for listed companies. We received approval from the SEC yesterday and both will be in effect through June 2009.
Why would we do this and more importantly why would we choose to do this now?
I think it's safe to say that the current market conditions are unlike any we have ever seen. What started out as a problem for financial stocks has turned into a full-blown problem across all industries and around the world. Low-priced stocks have become a serious, widespread issue. Who would have imagined a world where several major blue chips in the DJIA trade around $2? And if big companies are trading at such low multiples, what does that mean for smaller companies?
To give you an example of how widespread the problem is: Bespoke Investment Group did an analysis on the S&P 500 and concluded that 27% of the index would not qualify for inclusion if being considered today. Not only that, but S&P would be hard pressed to come up with enough companies that would qualify to replace them, Bespoke said.
Trading below a dollar used to signal impending bankruptcy -- not anymore. We believe that many companies have fallen victim to broad market moves even though they continue to have solid balance sheets, revenues and growth prospects. We are proud of our partnership with our listed companies and we view this temporary suspension as a relief provision so that our issuers can remain focused on their businesses rather than be distracted by factors that are largely the result of circumstances beyond their control. Because 2009 has begun much the way 2008 ended, now seems like the best time to offer companies this relief.