Would you buy stock in a company that has assets of $1.5 billion, liabilities of $35 billion and only $60,000 in revenue in 2 1/2 months?
Those were figures reported Thursday by Motors Liquidation Co., the company formed from the unwanted factories and massive debt left behind by General Motors Co. when it emerged from bankruptcy protection in July.
Yet stock in Motors Liquidation continued trading Thursday, closing at 58 cents with 2.4 million shares changing hands.
In a Thursday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Motors Liquidation also reported that it lost $100 million from July 10, the day GM left bankruptcy protection, through Sept. 30.
It had more than $48 million in accrued payroll and employee benefits during the period, according to the filing, which duplicated a monthly operating report filed in a New York bankruptcy court.
The Detroit-based Motors Liquidation also reported more than $45 million in accrued professional fees.
John Pottow, a University of Michigan Law School professor who specializes in bankruptcy, said taxpayers will have to cover Motors Liquidation's losses through debtor-in-possession financing provided by the Treasury Department.
In its report, Motors Liquidation said it had about $1.1 billion in cash on Sept. 30 and it owed roughly $1.2 billion for the debtor financing. It also owns 10 percent of the new GM.
The government money will be used to pay expenses and cover losses until the assets are sold and the company is dissolved, Pottow said.
Motors Liquidation reported only $60,000 in revenue from disposal of assets through the end of September, but Pottow said management may be delaying any sales until the economy improves.
"Unfortunately for them, they're liquidating in a very depressed real estate market," Pottow said. "They may be deliberately slowing the pace of their sales."
Depending on their place in the pecking order, many debtholders could get less than three cents on the dollar for what they are owed, he said. Debts could be anything from mortgages on real estate to bond debt. Those who own stock have little chance of getting anything because they are at the bottom of the list, Pottow said.
Even though it's just a "carcass" left from the old GM, Motors Liquidation still has a sizable payroll for accountants, computer specialists and people to maintain its buildings, Pottow said.
Professional fees would go to lawyers and management consultants hired to run the liquidation, he said.
Motors Liquidation at some point will dispose of the assets, pay as much of the liabilities as it can and go out of business.
But its stock continues to be traded over-the-counter under the symbol MTLQQ.PK, despite warnings from the company, GM and securities regulators that it could soon become worthless.
Some investors apparently believe they'll profit on the old company.
The new GM, which is majority owned by the U.S. government, is no longer traded publicly, but may offer shares for sale late next year. The new company plans to report earnings for July 10 through Sept. 30 on Monday.
Motors Liquidation disposed of one large asset in October when it sold a shuttered assembly plant in Wilmington, Del., to luxury automaker Fisker Automotive.
The California-based Fisker will pay $18 million for the plant after a four-month evaluation period and plans to use it to produce plug-in hybrid electric cars.
Tim Yost, a spokesman for Motors Liquidation, said in a statement that the company believes it has adequate funds to cover both the administration of the bankruptcy and the required property remediation processes.