Steamboat Springs Shares of American Skiing Company's stock took a wild run up and down the mountain in trading on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board Tuesday and Wednesday.
When it was all over yesterday, the stock finished at 17 cents, up a penny from the day before. But along the way the stock traded as low as 6 cents.
What was more noteworthy was the volume of trading for a stock that typically sees fewer than 100,000 shares move on a busy day. ASC's stock, which trades under the symbol AESK, saw volume of more than 5 million shares on Tuesday and just over 6 million on Wednesday.
ASC is the parent company of the Steamboat Ski Area.
Brad McCurtain, president of Maine Securities Corp. in Portland, said he was uncertain how to account for the 5 million shares that traded on Tuesday. However, he's quite certain the bulk of Wednesday's volume can be traced to the State of Wisconsin bailing out of the stock. Wisconsin has owned a large block of several million shares since American Skiing went public in late 1997.
"They bought in at $18 right after the IPO (initial public offering) and we've always been amazed they continued to hold the stock," McCurtain said. "Particularly after it became apparent during the last year that it had become worthless."
Securities and Exchange Commission rules are liberal in terms of allowing stock buyers and sellers to protect their identities close to the sale.
However, McCurtain said he felt certain that Wisconsin finally got out of the stock Wednesday because one particularly large trade matched exactly the 3,018,000 shares the state held.
McCurtain said he doubts whether 11 million shares actually traded; the bulletin board tends to overstate volume, he said.
Another stock analyst who asked to remain nameless, theorized that the heavy trading could be attributed to one of the major shareholders snapping up most of the 15 million outstanding shares for pennies.
Oak Hill Capital Partners, which is one of ASC's major creditors, is also the majority shareholder.
Oak Hill also names a majority of the members of the company's board of directors.