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Life at the margins…

Over the past few days, we’ve read numerous stories about executives being forced to sell shares as a result of margin calls (see here and here).

Late yesterday, Williams Sonoma (WSM) Chairman and CEO W. Howard Lester (who last time we footnoted him was entering into a deal to buy the company’s Bombardier jet) disclosed that he was the latest to face a margin call by selling off 1 million shares earlier this week at $12.63 to $13.17 a share. Lester joins Viacom (VIA) Chairman Sumner Redstone and Scholastic (SCHL) Chairman and CEO Richard Robinson who also disclosed having to sell shares.

So far this month, executives at 18 different companies have disclosed similar moves compared with just 1 such disclosure in October 2007. But it’s hard to say those numbers are exact since companies use different language to disclose such “forced sales” in their Form 4s, with only some companies using the actual words “margin call”. Scholastic’s Robinson, for example disclosed that “as a result of market conditions, is being required to sell the subject shares in order to protect the collateral value underlying a personal loan with a bank secured by the shares”

Anyone else find some other creative uses of language to describe these sales?

UPDATE: The folks at Insider Score are out with a new report that says 26 companies have disclosed margin call related sales totaling more than $1.16 billion. “However, our figure includes only those sales that have specifically been disclosed as margin sales and we continue to believe that an additional $200M in sales disclosed since October 1st were margin call related. We also believe that we will see additional margin call related sales from insiders” the subscription-only report notes.