Prevent backdating

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Last month, Facebook announced a couple of new features for Facebook Page admins on the Timeline.

First, they announced the long awaited “Save Drafts,” which allows you to plan a post within the Timeline and save it to finish later.

She's saying that shareholders will naively think that the options were really granted on January 2, leaving them suspicious of springloading.

It goes without saying that they also won't realize that, in reality, it's all being done a month later.

(For more insight, see ) Although it may appear shady, public companies can typically issue and price stock option grants as they see fit, but this will all depend on the terms and conditions of their stock option granting program.

However, when granting options, the details of the grant must be disclosed, meaning that a company must clearly inform the investment community of the date that the option was granted and the exercise price. In addition, the company must also properly account for the expense of the options grant in their financials.

In order to lock in a profit on day one of an options grant, some executives simply backdate (set the date to an earlier time than the actual grant date) the exercise price of the options to a date when the stock was trading at a lower level. In this article, we'll explore what options backdating is and what it means for companies and their investors. Most businesses or executives avoid options backdating; executives who receive stock options as part of their compensation, are given an exercise price that is equivalent to the closing stock price on the date the options grant is issued.

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If the company sets the prices of the options grant well below the market price, they will instantaneously generate an expense, which counts against income.

The backdating concern occurs when the company does not disclose the facts behind the dating of the option.

If someone presents you with a spreadsheet of the last month's stock prices and asks you to pick the date on which you want to pretend that you granted, or were granted, several million options, might that not at least spur further inquiry?

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When then-general counsel Nancy Heinen emailed Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs such a spreadsheet on January 30, 2001, she noted that it was a bad idea to choose January 2 as the grant date--even though that was the day the stock had been at its lowest--if they wanted "to avoid any perception that the Board was acting in appropriately [sic] for insiders prior to Macworld announcements." (They ultimately chose one of the next-best dates from after Macworld.) Now isn't it obvious to everyone on that email that shareholders are being misled?

Options backdating is the practice of altering the date a stock option was granted, to a usually earlier (but sometimes later) date at which the underlying stock price was lower.

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