Of all of the desperate, inspired, cockamamie ideas proffered by companies in dire straits to pump up stock prices or otherwise stave off disaster and demise in this fetid, pandemic-infested world, none was quite so brazen as that offered by Hertz. After the better part of a decade of bad decisions and pivots that ultimately went nowhere, the bankrupt car-rental company at last came up with a stroke of pure genius: Why not sell a half-billion dollars’ worth of stock, and we use the term “worth” loosely, as in the very regulatory filing making that offer, Hertz conceded that those shares would prove almost certainly worthless? If the stock-market Stoolies couldn’t get enough of the stuff, why not indeed?
Turns out the answer to that question is, “because Jay Clayton called and said not to.” Fortunately for both Hertz and some of those aforementioned senseless Hertz stans, however, the SEC chair didn’t pick up the phone quite quickly enough, and so unlike Kodak, Hertz actually got something out of its insulting-on-its-face salvation plan.
Hertz suspended the stock sale after the Securities and Exchange Commission raised questions, but not before issuing 13.9 million shares, netting $29 million, according to a securities filing by the company on Monday.
The stock closed at $1.69 on Monday, implying a $240 million market capitalization.
Don’t worry, day traders: Even though you’re already underwater on those new shares—which went for an average of $2 apiece—we’re sure that “significant and rapid and currently unanticipated improvement in business conditions” will come around and save you, once Vladimir Putin’s untested and possibly fictitious coronavirus vaccine saves the world.