In a move that could disappoint gift givers and would-be collectors, Walt Disney Co. will stop issuing paper stock certificates.
The Burbank-based entertainment giant has long offered physical stock certificates that include the images of popular cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Bambi.
Starting Oct. 16, the company will only issue shares digitally.
"Like hundreds of other companies, Disney will no longer be issuing paper stock certificates in an effort to create a more secure and efficient system," the company said in a statement.
Disney's stock certificates are popular gifts -- given to celebrate such events as the birth of a child or a bar mitzvah. Several websites offer framed certificates; on Wednesday, OneShare.com was selling a single share of Disney stock, with a framed certificate, for $152.
In the stock market Wednesday, Disney shares were going for $63.72, down 28 cents, in midday trading.
Analyst Harold Vogel, who follows Disney, said no longer issuing physical stock certificates would save the company money.
"When the transactions daily are in the tens of millions, it just does not make sense to constantly print these things up," he said. "With the need to protect against counterfeiting and the ability to transact online making it a lot more convenient and much more cost effective, you can see why this is almost an inevitable development."
Disney said it instead would offer non-negotiable certificates of acquisition as collectibles. Those documents are expected to include cartoon figures similar to those found on the paper stock certificates being phased out.
"It is not a direct certificate, but it is evidence that you have purchased [stock]," Vogel said.
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