Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Big Winstar bucks

Way back in the day I invested in Winstar Communications, Inc., a telecomm that got busted in the big telecomm bubble.  I didn't invest too much, luckily.  Years later, circa 2006 or so, I got a letter in the mail from a law firm saying that I had been defrauded and maimed and pillaged and raped of my precious money by the Winstar management and that, if I wanted to, I could join the class-action lawsuit by filling in the included form, mailing it in, waiting for a few years (three or so if I recall correctly), and then possibly receiving a bonus bonanza check in the mail for my pain and suffering.  So I did it.

My check arrived a few days ago.  I unfortunately immediately threw out the accompanying letter, but it stated that investors had lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.4B (another "B" for billion).  The total settlement for all defrauded and maimed and raped (and pillaged) former shareholders came to somewhere around $12M (that one is an "M" for million).  So far we're down by a factor of 200 or so.

My check?  I am staring at it right now, salivating more than I do when I am staring down a 1 1/2 pound prime rib dinner (just ask my wife).  I am about to deposit it.  But I don't think that $8.55 will go very far toward my kids' college educations, unfortunately.  Maybe a McD's lunch sometime ...

A few years ago I got another settlement check from another bum telecomm-related burst-bubble class-action lawsuit.  I sent that form in too.  The check I got for that one?  $.02.  That may actually be worth the "... but that's just my 2 cents" jokes that come to mind, but it wasn't worth any more than that.  And, yes, I deposited that one too, salivating all the way to the bank.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Disney buys Marvel

Long ago I purchased a buttload (a relative term) of shares of Marvel Entertainment (MVL - formerly Marvel Enterprises and several other company name iterations).  Cost basis is just over $5 per share.  I bought these shares almost entirely in 1999 and 2000, and slightly more in 2002 and 2005.  This past Thursday, December 31, 2009, my fellow Marvel shareholders and I voted to allow The Walt Disney Company (DIS) to purchase our entire company for both cash and stock.  Each Marvel share will fetch $30 in cash plus .745 Disney shares.  At Disney's closing price of $32.25 on Thursday, this means that each of my Marvel shares is worth
($32.25 x .745) + $30 = $54.03
My MVL cost basis is $5.30 per share.  So my return on that investment is
$54.03 / $5.30 = 10.19 or 1019%.
Not bad ...

I screwed up a bit with the recent AMZN options, but I have made some very profitable bets on other deep-in-the-money calls, and this one is a once-in-a-lifetime bonanza!  So it's not all bad ...