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Brought 1000 shares (units) of IPOA.U on IPO day at price of $10.26 for $10,260.00. Each of these units contains 1/3 of a warrant (or 333 whole warrants) exercisable now or at a later date for $11.50. Currently NASDAQ broke the stock down under three symbols: IPOA.U $10.72 which is the units and the warrant combo; IPOAU $10.12 units only; and IPOA+ $1.90 warrants only.

Under IPOA.U (units+ 1/3 warrant) the earning would be $.46 each unit or $460.00 total ($10.72 - $10.26 x 1000). However exercising the warrant appears to be a loss. Question... Why would a sane person exercise any of the 333 warrants for $11.50 each when under IPOA+ they are listed for $1.90 each. Surely I am misunderstand the stock IPO's intent.

Please help!

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(See also the question How many stocks I can exercise per stock warrant? and my comments there).

Clearly, at the prices you quote, it does not seem sensible to exercise your warrants at the moment, since you can still by "units" (1 stock + 1/3 warrant) and bare stock at below the $11.50 it would cost you to exercise your warrant. So when would exercising a warrant become "a sensible thing to do"?

Obviously, if the price of the bare stock (which you say is currently $10.12) were to sufficiently exceed $11.50, then it would clearly be worth exercising a warrant and immediately selling the stock you receive ("sufficiently exceed" to account for any dealing costs in selling the newly-acquired stock).

However, looking more closely, $11.50 isn't the correct "cut-off" price. Consider three of the units you bought at $10.26 each. For $30.78 you received three shares of stock and one warrant. For an additional $11.50 ($42.28 in total) you can have a total of four shares of stock (at the equivalent of $10.57 each). So, if the price of the bare stock rises above $10.57, then it could become sensible to exercise one warrant and sell four shares of stock (again allowing a margin for the cost of selling the stock).

The trading price of the original unit (1 stock + 1/3 warrant) shouldn't (I believe) directly affect your decision to exercise warrants, although it would be a factor in deciding whether to resell the units you've already got. As you say, if they are now trading at $10.72, then having bought them at $10.26 you would make a profit if sold.

Curiously, unless I'm missing something, or the figures you quote are incorrect, the current price of the "unit" (1 stock + 1/3 warrant; $10.72) seems overpriced compared to the price of the bare stock ($10.12). Reversing the above calculation, if bare stock is trading at $10.12, then four shares would cost $40.48. Deducting the $11.50 cost-of-exercising, this would value three "combined units" at $28.98, or $9.66 each, which is considerably below the market price you quote.

One reason the "unit" (1 stock + 1/3 warrant) is trading at $10.72 instead of $9.66 could be that the market believes the price of the bare share (currently $10.12) will eventually move towards or above $11.50. If that happens, the option of exercising warrants at $11.50 becomes more and more attractive. The premium presumably reflects this potential future benefit.

Finally, "Surely I am misunderstand the stock IPO's intent.": presumably, the main intent of Social Capital was to raise as much money as possible through this IPO to fund their future activities.

  • The "positive view" is that they expect this future activity to be profitable, and therefore the price of ordinary stock to go up (at least as far as, ideally way beyond) the $11.50 exercise price, and the offering of warrants will be seen as a "thank you" to those investors who took the risk of taking part in the IPO.

  • A completely cynical view would be that they don't really care what happens to the stock price, but that "offering free stuff" (or what looks like "free stuff") will simply attract more "punters" to the IPO.

In reality, the truth is probably somewhere between those two extremes.

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