Although it is not a brand-new idea, Exxon Corp.'s program through which first-time investors can buy the company's shares without going through a broker is getting a lot of attention for the emerging business of commission-free investing.
Although there are 900 companies that offer commission-free dividend reinvestment programs, known as DRIPs, Exxon has joined a more elite group of corporations that sell stock directly to investors, even if they are not already shareholders. More than 20 companies already do that, but the Exxon plan announced last month seems to indicate that broker-free investing is a good idea whose time has come.
Mobil, Texaco, Procter & Gamble and Johnson Controls are among the companies that have such plans. The interest stirred by the Exxon announcement, however, could be the beginning of something bigger. Under the new plan for the nation's largest oil company, new investors can get in with an initial purchase of just $250 worth of stock. Exxon also keeps the records and will even hold the certificates for safekeeping. In recent weeks, Exxon shares closed Friday at $57.875.