Walt Disney Co. plans to stop issuing stock certificates, delivering shares only in electronic form in a blow to would-be collectors of the documents featuring drawings of Bambi and Mickey Mouse.
When investors transfer shares, paper ones won’t be reissued, Disney said yesterday in a regulatory filing (DIS:US). The changes, which take effect on Oct. 16, will shrink the supply for websites pitching the items as a way to interest children in investing. The company said it will offer non-negotiable certificates as a substitute.
Collectors have made Disney certificates the most popular at GiveAShare.com, a Gilbert, Arizona-based company that provides the documents in a frame for a fee. While many companies have eliminated paper shares to save money, Disney’s have stayed top sellers, said Bob Kerstein, founder of Scripophily.com, a website for collectors.
“It’s such a PR tool for them,” Kerstein said. “Disney was the major holdout. I’m pretty surprised. Everybody’s in cost-cutting mode.”
Disney’s stock certificates feature founder Walt Disney surrounded by Dumbo, Donald Duck and other characters, according to the website Oneshare.com, which also offers framed shares for a fee.
“Like hundreds of other companies, Disney will no longer be issuing paper stock certificates in an effort to create a more secure and efficient system,” the company said in a statement. Collectors may request non-negotiable “certificates of acquisition,” Disney said.
“It’s not the same as a stock certificate, but it’s nice that Disney is recognizing fans want something,” Kerstein said.
Stock certificates dating back to the company’s initial public stock offering and hand-signed by Disney can fetch more than $25,000, Kerstein said. Companies have been doing away with them for years because of the expense, he said.
GiveAShare’s favorites list includes Disney, Harley-Davidson Inc. (HOG:US) and Facebook Inc. (FB:US) Because Facebook issues its stock electronically, GiveAShare provides a personalized replica, according to the site.
Disney’s change is likely to spark a last-minute rush among collectors and higher prices for existing certificates, according to Rick Roman, a co-founder of GiveAShare.
“Since we started, Disney has been the most popular,” Roman said in an interview. “It appeals to kids, they have one of the best-looking certificates and there’s some fanatical adults that want them as well. That ends up being a good way to teach kids about stocks.”
Disney, based in Burbank, California, fell 0.6 percent to $63.59 at the close in New York. The stock has gained (DIS:US) 28 percent this year.
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