How to Lose Billions on This Fad Investment: Apple Inc. (AAPL), Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS), Citigroup Inc. (C)

Page 1 of 2

During the financial crisis, Wall Street firms got a reputation for making money at their clients’ expense. Yet years after the end of the crisis, Wall Street’s finest are still providing their clients with access to complicated financial products, and one recent episode shows how those products can go awry for unsuspecting investors.

Late last month, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) reported in a filing with the SEC that it had sold nearly $30 million in complex debt instruments called structured notes that were tied to the performance of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). That sale happened to come immediately before Apple released its most recent earnings report, after which the stock plunged. Although Goldman vehemently denies that it made money at the buyer’s expense, various firms have sold billions of dollars in structured notes tied to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and other investments in the past year, and given the tech giant’s losses, many of those notes have worked out badly for their buyers.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)How structured notes work
Structured notes were designed to cater to the need among investors for substantial and dependable income. In general, they involve short-term bets on market benchmarks or individual stocks, offering yields well in excess of what the targeted investment offers in dividends. For instance, as Bloomberg reported, some of the notes that Goldman sold on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) earlier in January were designed to pay a yield of more than 9% per year for as long as three years, with protection for investors’ principal as long as the stock avoided losses of more than 30%.

But there’s no such thing as a free lunch on Wall Street, and the lucrative income from structured notes comes with a catch. If the stock does fall below a certain threshold, then the company that sold the notes can force investors to accept shares of stock in repayment of the note rather than cash. Moreover, the notes are structured so that the amount of stock investors receive in case of a loss leaves them holding the bag for the entire amount of the loss. And to add insult to injury, after the threshold is triggered, the clock stops on any further income payments from the note, leaving investors with far less in total income than they expected when they first entered into the transaction.

A big bet
When shares don’t drop, the deals can work out exceedingly well. For instance, back in September, Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) sold structured notes on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) that paid a 17% yield for a one-year term, with a threshold loss of 35% below the roughly $19.35 per share price on the day of the note sale. Nearly six months later, Facebook shares have rebounded sharply, and the note buyer seems likely to get the full benefit of that 17% return.

Page 1 of 2
blog comments powered by Disqus
Insider Monkey Headlines
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy

Insider Monkey beat the market by 52 percentage points in 24 months Click to see monthly returns in table format!

Lists

The 10 Countries with the Highest Suicide Rates

The 10 Most Technologically Advanced Countries in the World

The 10 Safest Countries in the World to Live in Peace

The 10 Top Selling Smartphones in the World 2014

The 12 Biggest Shopping Centers in the World

The 10 Friendliest Countries in the World

Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd (QIHU), Actavis plc (ACT), Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Among 20 Long Ideas from Sohn Canada

The 10 Laziest Countries in the World

The 10 Most Polluted Countries in the World

The 10 Most Dangerous Cities in America 2014

The Top 10 Gold Producing Countries in the World

The 10 Tallest Buildings in the World

The 10 Richest Stand Up Comedians in the World

The 10 Fattest Countries in the World

The 5 Best Summer Jobs for Teens

The 10 Most Religious Countries in the World Keeping the Faith

The 10 Most Educated Countries in the World

The 10 Most Popular Cell Phones in the World

The 10 Drunkest Countries in the World

The 10 Most Expensive Private Schools in the World

The 10 Smallest Countries in the World

Walking Dead Season 5 Spoilers You’ll Wish You Didn’t Know

The 10 Poorest Countries in the World

The 10 Greenest Countries in the World

The Top 10 Countries with the Highest Population in the World

The 10 Most Visited Countries in the World

The Top 10 Star Wars Characters in the Iconic Series

The 10 Most Expensive Android Phones in the World

5 Reasons Why The Illuminati Is Real and a Threat to Society

The 6 Scariest Halloween Costumes Ever Screamed At

The 4 Biggest Hedge Fund Managers in the World Today

The 15 Most Densely Populated Countries in the World

The 10 Biggest Tea Drinking Countries in the World

Top 6 Ways to Improve Your Checkout Process and Close Sales

The 5 Most Profitable Online Businesses You Can Start Today

The 20 Most Profitable Hospitals in the US

The 5 Most Profitable Home Businesses to Start

The 7 Teams that Will Win the Stanley Cup in 2015

The Top 10 Most Expensive Digital Cameras to Snap Stunning Shots With

The 10 Highest Quality Fast Food Restaurants In America Today

The 8 Best Halloween Decorating Ideas to Spook Up Your House

10 Marvel Women that Should Get a Movie Right Now

The 20 Best Remixes of Popular Songs that Will Make You Forget the Originals

7 Most Expensive Cities in the World

5 Least Expensive Cities in the World

10 Celebrities Who Believe In Scientology

10 High Margin Food Products to Build a Business Around

The 10 Most Expensive Clothing Stores in the United States to Get Decked Out At

The 5 Biggest Kickstarter Scams That Swindled Backers’ Donations

The 10 Most Expensive Boarding Schools In the World

Subscribe

Enter your email:

Delivered by FeedBurner

X

Thanks! An email with instructions is sent to !

Your email already exists in our database. Click here to go to your subscriptions

Insider Monkey returned 47.6% in its first year! Wondering How?

Download a complete edition of our newsletter for free!