Sometimes, you invest in a stock or fund that you think is going to skyrocket, only to see it end up as a real dog.

Other times, the investment is so bad that it's criminal.

Such is the plight for this week's reader.

Bob wrote in an e-mail that he owns a "dreadful" stock fund that agreed to pay $100 million to fund owners to settle New York state and federal Securities and Exchange Commission charges.

"Of course, no one has seen any of this money, and calls to the fund's corporate offices result in the comment that the decisions are in the hands of 'the regulators,"' Bob wrote. "I want to sell this stock but have held off because that might disqualify me from receiving any of the settlement. Am I safe to sell, or should I hold on further?"

Bob wrote that the company in question is Federated Investors, and he owns American Leaders Fund A.

To get some answers for Bob, I contacted Mark W. Pugsley, an attorney with Ray, Quinney & Nebeker in Salt Lake City who specializes in securities litigation and SEC enforcement cases.

Mark wrote in an e-mailed response that the settlement order between Federated and the SEC was signed way back in November 2005.

"The agreement with the SEC provides that the company must hire an 'Independent Distribution Consultant' to put together a plan for distributing $45 million (not $100 million) in disgorgement penalties to investors who were damaged by the company," Mark wrote. "The company also paid $27 million to the government in fines."

Mark wrote that, usually, distributions in this kind of settlement are made to investors based on the number of shares held at the time the illegal conduct occurred.

"However, it is not clear whether that is the case here, because the company has not published a distribution plan yet," Mark wrote. "According to the SEC settlement, all investors will receive '(i) their proportionate share of losses suffered by the fund due to market timing and late trading, and (ii) a proportionate share of advisory fees paid by funds that suffered such losses during the period of such market timing.'

"I think it's unlikely that a shareholder who sold before the distribution would be affected, but until the plan is published you cannot be 100 percent sure."

So, Bob, I guess that leaves you in limbo. It's hard to believe when the case started almost three years ago, but these things do seem to drag through the system, especially when a company is going to have to return money to investors.

You already may know this, but Mark suggests that you continue to monitor the Web site set up for this case, http://www.federatedfairfundsettlement.com.

"Once the plan is published, he should review the details to determine whether it is necessary to retain the shares," Mark wrote.

From the Web site Mark noted, I found a link to www.sec.gov/divisions/enforce/claims/federatedinvestment.htm. It includes an SEC statement on the settlement, if you're interested.

Hang in there, Bob! I hope you get justice in this case, and I'd appreciate it if you would drop me a note to let me know how things turn out.


Speaking of dropping me a line, I'm still hoping to hear from more readers on a couple of different topics.

First, I want to hear from people who can relate to a reader named Mike who feels like he is working hard and makes a good income, but all of his neighbors live more extravagantly than he does.

And I hope to get stories and tips from people who have gone through layoffs, in an attempt to help us here at the News and others who are struggling during this economic slowdown.

If you have any thoughts on these topics, or if you have a financial question, please send them to gkratz@desnews.com or to the Deseret News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.


E-mail: gkratz@desnews.com