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Tracking Stocks aka help me not be dumb


Ham Hockers
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Can someone explain to me the appeal of a tracking stock, from an investor's perspective? I'm under the impression that these securities typically have no claim on the assets of whatever business units they "track". Is that wrong?

 

You're right. The point of tracking stocks is that they can be the first step towards a real spin-off. This can be really interesting when they aren't quite ready for prime time and you want to keep the two companies' balance sheets together for tax and financial reasons. This is the way John Malone uses tracking stocks, anyway. So, with tracking stocks you can participate in a kind of "pre-spin-off spin-off" but you have to trust management that prime time will come someday. Listen to maestro himself:

 

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