March 2021

Preliminary Terms No. 1,018

Registration Statement Nos. 333-250103; 333-250103-01

Dated March 5, 2021

Filed pursuant to Rule 433

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Structured Investments

Opportunities in U.S. Equities

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026

Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index

Fully and Unconditionally Guaranteed by Morgan Stanley

Principal at Risk Securities

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities do not guarantee the payment of interest or the repayment of principal. Instead, the securities offer the opportunity for investors to earn a contingent semi-annual coupon, but only with respect to each observation date on which the index closing value of the underlying index is greater than or equal to 80% of the initial index value, which we refer to as the coupon barrier level. In addition, if the index closing value of the underlying index is greater than or equal to the initial index value on any semi-annual redemption determination date, the securities will be automatically redeemed for an amount per security equal to the stated principal amount and the contingent semi-annual coupon. However, if the securities are not automatically redeemed prior to maturity, the payment at maturity due on the securities will be as follows: (i) if the final index value is greater than or equal to 75% of the initial index value, which we refer to as the downside threshold level, investors will receive the stated principal amount and, if the final index value is also greater than or equal to the coupon barrier level, the contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to the final observation date, or (ii) if the final index value is less than the downside threshold level, investors will be exposed to the full decline in the underlying index on a 1-to-1 basis and will receive a payment at maturity that is less than 75% of the stated principal amount of the securities and could be zero. Moreover, if on any observation date, the index closing value of the underlying index is less than the coupon barrier level, you will not receive any contingent semi-annual coupon for that semi-annual period. As a result, investors must be willing to accept the risk of not receiving any contingent semi-annual coupons and also the risk of receiving a payment at maturity that is significantly less than the stated principal amount of the securities and could be zero. Accordingly, investors could lose their entire initial investment in the securities. These long-dated securities are for investors who are willing to risk their principal and seek an opportunity to earn interest at a potentially above-market rate in exchange for the risk of receiving few or no contingent semi-annual coupons over the 5-year term of the securities. Investors will not participate in any appreciation of the underlying index. The securities are unsecured obligations of Morgan Stanley Finance LLC (“MSFL”) and are fully and unconditionally guaranteed by Morgan Stanley. The securities are issued as part of MSFL’s Series A Global Medium-Term Notes program.

All payments are subject to our credit risk. If we default on our obligations, you could lose some or all of your investment. These securities are not secured obligations and you will not have any security interest in, or otherwise have any access to, any underlying reference asset or assets.

SUMMARY TERMS

 

Issuer:

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Guarantor:

Morgan Stanley

Underlying index:

S&P 500® Index

Aggregate principal amount:

$

Stated principal amount:

$1,000 per security

Issue price:

$1,000 per security

Pricing date:

March 12, 2021

Original issue date:

March 17, 2021 (3 business days after the pricing date)

Maturity date:

March 17, 2026

Early redemption:

If, on any redemption determination date, beginning on September 13, 2021, the index closing value of the underlying index is greater than or equal to the initial index value, the securities will be automatically redeemed for an early redemption payment on the related early redemption date. No further payments will be made on the securities once they have been redeemed.

Early redemption payment:

The early redemption payment will be an amount equal to (i) the stated principal amount plus (ii) the contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to the related observation date.

Redemption determination dates:

Semi-annually, as set forth under “Observation Dates, Redemption Determination Dates, Coupon Payment Dates and Early Redemption Dates” below, subject to postponement for non-index business days and certain market disruption events.

Early redemption dates:

Starting on September 16, 2021, semi-annually. See “Observation Dates, Redemption Determination Dates, Coupon Payment Dates and Early Redemption Dates” below. If any such day is not a business day, that early redemption payment will be made on the next succeeding business day and no adjustment will be made to any early redemption payment made on that succeeding business day.

Contingent semi-annual coupon:

If, on any observation date, the index closing value or the final index value, as applicable, is greater than or equal to the coupon barrier level, we will pay a contingent semi-annual coupon at an annual rate of at least 9.76% (corresponding to approximately $48.80 per semi-annual period per security, to be determined on the pricing date) on the related coupon payment date.

If, on any observation date, the index closing value or the final index value, as applicable, is less than the coupon barrier level, no contingent semi-annual coupon will be paid with respect to that observation date.

Coupon barrier level:

, which is equal to 80% of the initial index value

Downside threshold level:

, which is equal to 75% of the initial index value

Payment at maturity:

If the final index value is greater than or equal to the downside threshold level:

 

the stated principal amount and, if the final index value is also greater than or equal to the coupon barrier level, the contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to the final observation date

 

If the final index value is less than the downside threshold level:

(i) the stated principal amount multiplied by (ii) the index performance factor

Terms continued on the following page

Agent:

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC (“MS & Co.”), an affiliate of MSFL and a wholly owned subsidiary of Morgan Stanley. See “Supplemental information regarding plan of distribution; conflicts of interest.”

Estimated value on the pricing date:

Approximately $984.20 per security, or within $55.00 of that estimate. See “Investment Summary” beginning on page 3.

Commissions and issue price:

 

Price to public(1)

Agent’s commissions and fees(2)

Proceeds to us(3)

Per security

 

$1,000

$

$

Total

 

$

$

$

(1)The securities will be sold only to investors purchasing the securities in fee-based advisory accounts.

(2)MS & Co. expects to sell all of the securities that it purchases from us to an unaffiliated dealer at a price of $ per security, for further sale to certain fee-based advisory accounts at the price to public of $1,000 per security. MS & Co. will not receive a sales commission with respect to the securities. See “Supplemental information regarding plan of distribution; conflicts of interest.” For additional information, see “Plan of Distribution (Conflicts of Interest)” in the accompanying product supplement.

(3)See "Use of proceeds and hedging" on page 19.

The securities involve risks not associated with an investment in ordinary debt securities. See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 8.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and state securities regulators have not approved or disapproved these securities, or determined if this document or the accompanying product supplement, index supplement and prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

The securities are not deposits or savings accounts and are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other governmental agency or instrumentality, nor are they obligations of, or guaranteed by, a bank.

You should read this document together with the related product supplement, index supplement and prospectus, each of which can be accessed via the hyperlinks below. Please also see “Additional Terms of the Securities” and “Additional Information About the Securities” at the end of this document.

As used in this document, “we,” “us” and “our” refer to Morgan Stanley or MSFL, or Morgan Stanley and MSFL collectively, as the context requires.

Product Supplement for Auto-Callable Securities dated November 16, 2020  Index Supplement dated November 16, 2020

Prospectus dated November 16, 2020

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026

Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index

Principal at Risk Securities

 

 

Terms continued from previous page:

Initial index value:

, which is the index closing value of the underlying index on the pricing date

Coupon payment dates:

Semi-annually, as set forth under “Observation Dates, Redemption Determination Dates, Coupon Payment Dates and Early Redemption Dates” below. If any such day is not a business day, that coupon payment will be made on the next succeeding business day and no adjustment will be made to any coupon payment made on that succeeding business day; provided further that the contingent semi-annual coupon, if any, with respect to the final observation date will be paid on the maturity date.

Observation dates:

Semi-annually, as set forth under “Observation Dates, Redemption Determination Dates, Coupon Payment Dates and Early Redemption Dates” below, subject to postponement for non-index business days and certain market disruption events. We also refer to March 12, 2026, which is the third scheduled business day preceding the scheduled maturity date, as the final observation date.

Final index value:

The index closing value of the underlying index on the final observation date

Index performance factor:

The final index value divided by the initial index value

CUSIP:

61771VJB7

ISIN:

US61771VJB71

Listing:

The securities will not be listed on any securities exchange.

 

 

 

Observation Dates, Redemption Determination Dates, Coupon Payment Dates and Early Redemption Dates

Observation Dates / Redemption Determination Dates

Coupon Payment Dates / Early Redemption Dates

September 13, 2021

September 16, 2021

March 14, 2022

March 17, 2022

September 12, 2022

September 15, 2022

March 13, 2023

March 16, 2023

September 12, 2023

September 15, 2023

March 12, 2024

March 15, 2024

September 12, 2024

September 17, 2024

March 12, 2025

March 17, 2025

September 12, 2025

September 17, 2025

March 12, 2026 (final observation date)

March 17, 2026 (maturity date)

 

March 2021 Page 2

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026

Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index

Principal at Risk Securities

Investment Summary

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities

Principal at Risk Securities

The Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026 Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index, which we refer to as the securities, provide an opportunity for investors to earn a contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to each semi-annual observation date on which the index closing value or the final index value, as applicable, is greater than or equal to 80% of the initial index value, which we refer to as the coupon barrier level. It is possible that the index closing value of the underlying index could remain below the coupon barrier level for extended periods of time or even throughout the term of the securities so that you may receive few or no contingent semi-annual coupons.

If the index closing value is greater than or equal to the initial index value on any semi-annual redemption determination date, beginning on September 13, 2021, the securities will be automatically redeemed for an early redemption payment equal to the stated principal amount, plus the contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to the related observation date. If the securities have not previously been redeemed and the final index value is greater than or equal to 75% of the initial index value, which we refer to as the downside threshold level, the payment at maturity will be the stated principal amount and, if the final index value is also greater than or equal to the coupon barrier level, the contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to the final observation date. However, if the securities have not previously been redeemed and the final index value is less than the downside threshold level, investors will be exposed to the decline in the underlying index, as compared to the initial index value, on a 1-to-1 basis. In this case, the payment at maturity will be less than 75% of the stated principal amount of the securities and could be zero. Investors in the securities must be willing to accept the risk of losing their entire principal and also the risk of not receiving any contingent semi-annual coupon. In addition, investors will not participate in any appreciation of the underlying index.

The original issue price of each security is $1,000. This price includes costs associated with issuing, selling, structuring and hedging the securities, which are borne by you, and, consequently, the estimated value of the securities on the pricing date will be less than $1,000. We estimate that the value of each security on the pricing date will be approximately $984.20, or within $55.00 of that estimate. Our estimate of the value of the securities as determined on the pricing date will be set forth in the final pricing supplement.

What goes into the estimated value on the pricing date?

In valuing the securities on the pricing date, we take into account that the securities comprise both a debt component and a performance-based component linked to the underlying index. The estimated value of the securities is determined using our own pricing and valuation models, market inputs and assumptions relating to the underlying index, instruments based on the underlying index, volatility and other factors including current and expected interest rates, as well as an interest rate related to our secondary market credit spread, which is the implied interest rate at which our conventional fixed rate debt trades in the secondary market.

What determines the economic terms of the securities?

In determining the economic terms of the securities, including the contingent semi-annual coupon rate, the coupon barrier level and the downside threshold level, we use an internal funding rate, which is likely to be lower than our secondary market credit spreads and therefore advantageous to us. If the issuing, selling, structuring and hedging costs borne by you were lower or if the internal funding rate were higher, one or more of the economic terms of the securities would be more favorable to you.

What is the relationship between the estimated value on the pricing date and the secondary market price of the securities?

The price at which MS & Co. purchases the securities in the secondary market, absent changes in market conditions, including those related to the underlying index, may vary from, and be lower than, the estimated value on the pricing date, because the secondary market price takes into account our secondary market credit spread as well as the bid-offer spread that MS & Co. would charge in a secondary market transaction of this type and other factors. However, because the costs associated with issuing, selling, structuring and hedging the securities are not fully deducted upon issuance, for a period of up to 6 months following the issue date, to the extent that MS & Co. may buy or sell the securities in the secondary market, absent changes in market conditions, including those related to the underlying index, and to our secondary market credit spreads, it would do so based on values higher than the estimated value. We expect that those higher values will also be reflected in your brokerage account statements.

MS & Co. may, but is not obligated to, make a market in the securities, and, if it once chooses to make a market, may cease doing so at any time.

 

March 2021 Page 3

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026

Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index

Principal at Risk Securities

Key Investment Rationale

The securities offer investors an opportunity to earn a contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to each observation date on which the index closing value or the final index value, as applicable, is greater than or equal to 80% of the initial index value, which we refer to as the coupon barrier level. The securities may be redeemed prior to maturity for the stated principal amount per security plus the applicable contingent semi-annual coupon, and the payment at maturity will vary depending on the final index value, as follows:

Scenario 1

On any semi-annual redemption determination date, the index closing value is greater than or equal to the initial index value.

The securities will be automatically redeemed for (i) the stated principal amount plus (ii) the contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to the related observation date.

Investors will not participate in any appreciation of the underlying index from the initial index value.

Scenario 2

The securities are not automatically redeemed prior to maturity, and the final index value is greater than or equal to the downside threshold level.

The payment due at maturity will be the stated principal amount and, if the final index value is also greater than or equal to the coupon barrier level, the contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to the final observation date.

Investors will not participate in any appreciation of the underlying index from the initial index value.

Scenario 3

The securities are not automatically redeemed prior to maturity, and the final index value is less than the downside threshold level.

The payment due at maturity will be equal to (i) the stated principal amount multiplied by (ii) the index performance factor.

Investors will lose a significant portion, and may lose all, of their principal in this scenario.

 

March 2021 Page 4

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026

Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index

Principal at Risk Securities

How the Securities Work

The following diagrams illustrate the potential outcomes for the securities depending on (1) the index closing values and (2) the final index value.

Diagram #1: Contingent Semi-Annual Coupons (Beginning on the First Coupon Payment Date until Early Redemption or Maturity)

Diagram #2: Automatic Early Redemption

March 2021 Page 5

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026

Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index

Principal at Risk Securities

Diagram #3: Payment at Maturity if No Automatic Early Redemption Occurs

For more information about the payout upon an early redemption or at maturity in different hypothetical scenarios, see “Hypothetical Examples” starting on page 7.

March 2021 Page 6

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026

Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index

Principal at Risk Securities

Hypothetical Examples

The below examples are based on the following terms:

Hypothetical Initial Index Value:

3,700

Hypothetical Coupon Barrier Level:

2,960, which is 80% of the hypothetical initial index value

Hypothetical Downside Threshold Level:

2,775, which is 75% of the hypothetical initial index value

Hypothetical Contingent Semi-Annual Coupon:

9.76% per annum (corresponding to approximately $48.80 per semi-annual period per security)1

Stated Principal Amount:

$1,000 per security

1 The actual contingent semi-annual coupon will be an amount determined by the calculation agent based on the actual contingent semi-annual coupon rate and the number of days in the applicable payment period, calculated on a 30/360 day-count basis. The hypothetical contingent semi-annual coupon of $48.80 is used in these examples for ease of analysis.

In Example 1, the index closing value of the underlying index is greater than or equal to the initial index value on one of the semi-annual redemption determination dates (beginning on September 13, 2021). Because the index closing value is greater than or equal to the initial index value on such a date, the securities are automatically redeemed on the related early redemption date. In Examples 2, 3 and 4, the index closing value is less than the initial index value on each redemption determination date, and, consequently, the securities are not automatically redeemed prior to, and remain outstanding until, maturity.

Example 1—The securities are automatically redeemed following the semi-annual redemption determination date in September 2023, as the index closing value is greater than or equal to the initial index value on such redemption determination date. The index closing value is at or above the coupon barrier level on only 2 of the 4 semi-annual observation dates prior to (and excluding) the observation date immediately preceding the early redemption. Therefore, you would receive the contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to those 2 observation dates, totaling $48.80 × 2 = $97.60, but not with respect to the other 2 observation dates. The underlying index, however, recovers, and the index closing value is greater than or equal to the initial index value on the redemption determination date in September 2023. Upon early redemption, investors receive the early redemption payment calculated as $1,000 + $48.80 = $1,048.80.

The total payment over the 2.5-year term of the securities is $97.60 + $1,048.80 = $1,146.40. Investors do not participate in any appreciation of the underlying index.

Example 2—The securities are not redeemed prior to maturity, as the index closing value is less than the initial index value on each semi-annual redemption determination date. The index closing value is at or above the coupon barrier level on all 9 semi-annual observation dates prior to (and excluding) the final observation date, and the final index value is also at or above the coupon barrier level and above the downside threshold level. Therefore, you would receive (i) the contingent semi-annual coupons with respect to the 9 observation dates prior to (and excluding) the final observation date, totaling $48.80 × 9 = $439.20, and (ii) the payment at maturity calculated as $1,000 + $48.80 = $1,048.80.

The total payment over the 5-year term of the securities is $439.20 + $1,048.80 = $1,488.00.

This example illustrates the scenario where you receive a contingent semi-annual coupon on every coupon payment date throughout the term of the securities and receive your principal back at maturity, resulting in a hypothetical annual interest rate of 9.76% over the 5-year term of the securities. This example, therefore, represents the maximum amount payable over the 5-year term of the securities. To the extent that coupons are not paid on every coupon payment date, the effective rate of interest on the securities will be less than the hypothetical rate of 9.76% per annum and could be zero.

Example 3—The securities are not redeemed prior to maturity, as the index closing value is less than the initial index value on each semi-annual redemption determination date. The index closing value is at or above the coupon barrier level on 6 of the 9 semi-annual observation dates prior to (and excluding) the final observation date. The final index value is 2,800, which is above the downside threshold level but below the coupon barrier level. In this scenario, you receive a payment at maturity equal to the stated principal amount, but do not receive the contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to the final observation date. Therefore, you would receive (i) the contingent semi-annual coupons with respect to those 6 determinations dates prior to (and excluding) the final observation date, totaling $48.80 × 6 = $292.80, but not for the other 3 observation dates, and (ii) the payment at maturity of $1,000.

The total payment over the 5-year term of the securities is $292.80 + $1,000 = $1,292.80.

Example 4—The securities are not redeemed prior to maturity, as the index closing value is less than the initial index value on each semi-annual redemption determination date. The index closing value is below the coupon barrier level on all of the semi-annual observation dates, including the final observation date, on which the final index value is 1,850, which is below the downside threshold level. Therefore, you would receive no contingent semi-annual coupons, and the payment at maturity would be calculated as $1,000 × 1,850 / 3,700 = $500.

The total payment over the 5-year term of the securities is $0 + $500 = $500.

If the securities are not automatically redeemed prior to maturity and the final index value is less than the downside threshold level, you will lose a significant portion or all of your investment in the securities.

March 2021 Page 7

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026

Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index

Principal at Risk Securities

Risk Factors

This section describes the material risks relating to the securities. For further discussion of these and other risks, you should read the section entitled “Risk Factors” in the accompanying product supplement, index supplement and prospectus. You should also consult your investment, legal, tax, accounting and other advisers in connection with your investment in the securities.

Risks Relating to an Investment in the Securities

The securities do not guarantee the return of any principal. The terms of the securities differ from those of ordinary debt securities in that the securities do not guarantee the payment of regular interest or the return of any of the principal amount at maturity. Instead, if the securities have not been automatically redeemed prior to maturity and if the final index value is less than the downside threshold level, you will be exposed to the full decline in the underlying index, as compared to the initial index value, on a 1-to-1 basis and you will receive a payment at maturity that will be less than 75% of the stated principal amount and could be zero. You could lose up to your entire investment in the securities.

You will not receive any contingent semi-annual coupon for any semi-annual period where the index closing value is less than the coupon barrier level. A contingent semi-annual coupon will be paid with respect to a semi-annual period only if the index closing value is greater than or equal to the coupon barrier level. If the index closing value remains below the coupon barrier level on each observation date over the term of the securities, you will not receive any contingent semi-annual coupons.

The contingent semi-annual coupon, if any, is based solely on the index closing value or the final index value, as applicable. Whether the contingent semi-annual coupon will be paid with respect to an observation date will be based on the index closing value or the final index value, as applicable. As a result, you will not know whether you will receive the contingent semi-annual coupon until the related observation date. Moreover, because the contingent semi-annual coupon is based solely on the index closing value on a specific observation date or the final index value, as applicable, if such index closing value or final index value is less than the coupon barrier level, you will not receive any contingent semi-annual coupon with respect to such observation date, even if the index closing value of the underlying index was higher on other days during the term of the securities.

Investors will not participate in any appreciation in the value of the underlying index. Investors will not participate in any appreciation in the value of the underlying index from the initial index value, and the return on the securities will be limited to the contingent semi-annual coupons, if any, that are paid with respect to each observation date on which the index closing value or the final index value, as applicable, is greater than or equal to the coupon barrier level until the securities are redeemed or reach maturity. It is possible that the index closing value could be below the coupon barrier level on most or all of the observation dates so that you will receive few or no contingent semi-annual coupons. If you do not earn sufficient contingent semi-annual coupons over the term of the securities, the overall return on the securities may be less than the amount that would be paid on a conventional debt security of ours of comparable maturity.

The automatic early redemption feature may limit the term of your investment to as short as approximately six months. If the securities are redeemed early, you may not be able to reinvest at comparable terms or returns. The term of your investment in the securities may be limited to as short as approximately six months by the automatic early redemption feature of the securities. If the securities are redeemed prior to maturity, you will receive no more contingent semi-annual coupons and may be forced to invest in a lower interest rate environment and may not be able to reinvest at comparable terms or returns.

The market price will be influenced by many unpredictable factors. Several factors will influence the value of the securities in the secondary market and the price at which MS & Co. may be willing to purchase or sell the securities in the secondary market. Although we expect that generally the index closing value of the underlying index on any day will affect the value of the securities more than any other single factors, other factors that may influence the value of the securities include:

othe volatility (frequency and magnitude of changes in value) of the underlying index,

owhether the index closing value of the underlying index is currently or has been below the coupon barrier level on any observation date,

March 2021 Page 8

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026

Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index

Principal at Risk Securities

ogeopolitical conditions and economic, financial, political, regulatory or judicial events that affect the component stocks of the underlying index or securities markets generally and which may affect the value of the underlying index,

odividend rates on the securities underlying the underlying index,

othe time remaining until the securities mature,

ointerest and yield rates in the market,

othe availability of comparable instruments,

othe composition of the underlying index and changes in the constituent stocks of such index, and

oany actual or anticipated changes in our credit ratings or credit spreads.

Generally, the longer the time remaining to maturity, the more the market price of the securities will be affected by the other factors described above. Some or all of these factors will influence the price that you will receive if you sell your securities prior to maturity. In particular, if the underlying index has closed near or below the coupon barrier level, and especially if the underlying index has closed near or below the downside threshold level, the market value of the securities is expected to decrease substantially and you may have to sell your securities at a substantial discount from the stated principal amount of $1,000 per security.

You cannot predict the future performance of the underlying index based on its historical performance. The value of the underlying index may decrease and be below the coupon barrier level on each observation date so that you will receive no contingent semi-annual coupons, and the value of the underlying index may decrease and be below the downside threshold level on the final observation date so that you will lose a significant portion or all of your investment. There can be no assurance that the index closing value of the underlying index will be greater than or equal to the coupon barrier level on any observation date so that you will receive any contingent semi-annual coupon during the term of the securities, or that it will be greater than or equal to the downside threshold level on the final observation date so that you do not suffer a significant loss on your initial investment in the securities. See “S&P 500® Index Overview” below.

The securities are subject to our credit risk, and any actual or anticipated changes to our credit ratings or credit spreads may adversely affect the market value of the securities. You are dependent on our ability to pay all amounts due on the securities on each coupon payment date, upon automatic redemption or at maturity, and therefore you are subject to our credit risk. If we default on our obligations under the securities, your investment would be at risk and you could lose some or all of your investment. As a result, the market value of the securities prior to maturity will be affected by changes in the market’s view of our creditworthiness. Any actual or anticipated decline in our credit ratings or increase in the credit spreads charged by the market for taking our credit risk is likely to adversely affect the market value of the securities.

As a finance subsidiary, MSFL has no independent operations and will have no independent assets. As a finance subsidiary, MSFL has no independent operations beyond the issuance and administration of its securities and will have no independent assets available for distributions to holders of MSFL securities if they make claims in respect of such securities in a bankruptcy, resolution or similar proceeding. Accordingly, any recoveries by such holders will be limited to those available under the related guarantee by Morgan Stanley and that guarantee will rank pari passu with all other unsecured, unsubordinated obligations of Morgan Stanley. Holders will have recourse only to a single claim against Morgan Stanley and its assets under the guarantee. Holders of securities issued by MSFL should accordingly assume that in any such proceedings they would not have any priority over and should be treated pari passu with the claims of other unsecured, unsubordinated creditors of Morgan Stanley, including holders of Morgan Stanley-issued securities.

Investing in the securities is not equivalent to investing in the underlying index. Investing in the securities is not equivalent to investing in the underlying index or its component stocks. As an investor in the securities, you will not have voting rights or rights to receive dividends or other distributions or any other rights with respect to the stocks that constitute the underlying index.

The securities will not be listed on any securities exchange and secondary trading may be limited. Accordingly, you should be willing to hold your securities for the entire 5-year term of the securities. The securities will not be listed on any securities exchange. Therefore, there may be little or no secondary market for the securities. MS & Co. may, but is not obligated to, make a market in the securities and, if it once chooses to make a market, may cease doing so at any time. When it does make a market, it will generally do so for transactions of routine secondary market size at prices based

March 2021 Page 9

Morgan Stanley Finance LLC

Contingent Income Auto-Callable Securities due March 17, 2026

Based on the Performance of the S&P 500® Index

Principal at Risk Securities

on its estimate of the current value of the securities, taking into account its bid/offer spread, our credit spreads, market volatility, the notional size of the proposed sale, the cost of unwinding any related hedging positions, the time remaining to maturity and the likelihood that it will be able to resell the securities. Even if there is a secondary market, it may not provide enough liquidity to allow you to trade or sell the securities easily. Since other broker-dealers may not participate significantly in the secondary market for the securities, the price at which you may be able to trade your securities is likely to depend on the price, if any, at which MS & Co. is willing to transact. If, at any time, MS & Co. were to cease making a market in the securities, it is likely that there would be no secondary market for the securities. Accordingly, you should be willing to hold your securities to maturity.

The rate we are willing to pay for securities of this type, maturity and issuance size is likely to be lower than the rate implied by our secondary market credit spreads and advantageous to us. Both the lower rate and the inclusion of costs associated with issuing, selling, structuring and hedging the securities in the original issue price reduce the economic terms of the securities, cause the estimated value of the securities to be less than the original issue price and will adversely affect secondary market prices. Assuming no change in market conditions or any other relevant factors, the prices, if any, at which dealers, including MS & Co., may be willing to purchase the securities in secondary market transactions will likely be significantly lower than the original issue price, because secondary market prices will exclude the issuing, selling, structuring and hedging-related costs that are included in the original issue price and borne by you and because the secondary market prices will reflect our secondary market credit spreads and the bid-offer spread that any dealer would charge in a secondary market transaction of this type as well as other factors.

The inclusion of the costs of issuing, selling, structuring and hedging the securities in the original issue price and the lower rate we are willing to pay as issuer make the economic terms of the securities less favorable to you than they otherwise would be.

However, because the costs associated with issuing, selling, structuring and hedging the securities are not fully deducted upon issuance, for a period of up to 6 months following the issue date, to the extent that MS & Co. may buy or sell the securities in the secondary market, absent changes in market conditions, including those related to the underlying index, and to our secondary market credit spreads, it would do so based on values higher than the estimated value, and we expect that those higher values will also be reflected in your brokerage account statements.

The estimated value of the securities is determined by reference to our pricing and valuation models, which may differ from those of other dealers and is not a maximum or minimum secondary market price. These pricing and valuation models are proprietary and rely in part on subjective views of certain market inputs and certain assumptions about future events, which may prove to be incorrect. As a result, because there is no market-standard way to value these types of securities, our models may yield a higher estimated value of the securities than those generated by others, including other dealers in the market, if they attempted to value the securities. In addition, the estimated value on the pricing date does not represent a minimum or maximum price at which dealers, including MS & Co., would be willing to purchase your securities in the secondary market (if any exists) at any time. The value of your securities at any time after the date of this document will vary based on many factors that cannot be predicted with accuracy, including our creditworthiness and changes in market conditions. See also “The market price will be influenced by many unpredictable factors” above.

Hedging and trading activity by our affiliates could potentially adversely affect the value of the securities. One or more of our affiliates and/or third-party dealers expect to carry out hedging activities related to the securities (and to other instruments linked to the underlying index or its component stocks), including trading in the stocks that constitute the underlying index as well as in other instruments related to the underlying index. As a result, these entities may be unwinding or adjusting hedge positions during the term of the securities, and the hedging strategy may involve greater and more frequent dynamic adjustments to the hedge as the final observation date approaches. Some of our affiliates also trade the stocks that constitute the underlying index and other financial instruments related to the underlying index on a regular basis as part of their general broker-dealer and other businesses. Any of these hedging or trading activities on or prior to the pricing date could potentially increase the initial index value, and, therefore, could increase (i) the coupon barrier level, which is the value at or above which the underlying index must close on each observation date so that you receive a contingent semi-annual coupon on the securities, and (ii) the downside threshold level, which is the value at or above which the underlying index must close on the final observation date so that you are not exposed to the negative performance of the underlying index at maturity. Additionally, such hedging or trading activities during the term of the securities could potentially affect the value of the underlying index on the redemption determination dates and observation dates, and, accordingly, whether the securities are automatically called prior to maturity, whether we pay a contingent semi-annual

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coupon on each coupon payment date and, if the securities are not called prior to maturity, the payout to you at maturity, if any.

The calculation agent, which is a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley and an affiliate of MSFL, will make determinations with respect to the securities. As calculation agent, MS & Co. will determine the initial index value, the coupon barrier level, the downside threshold level, the index closing value on each observation date, including the final index value, whether the contingent semi-annual coupon will be paid on each coupon payment date, whether the securities will be redeemed following any redemption determination date, whether a market disruption event has occurred, and the payment that you will receive upon an automatic early redemption or at maturity, if any. Moreover, certain determinations made by MS & Co., in its capacity as calculation agent, may require it to exercise discretion and make subjective judgments, such as with respect to the occurrence or non-occurrence of market disruption events and the selection of a successor index or calculation of the index closing value in the event of a market disruption event or discontinuance of the underlying index. These potentially subjective determinations may affect the payout to you upon an automatic early redemption or at maturity, if any. For further information regarding these types of determinations, see “Description of Auto-Callable Securities—Auto-Callable Securities Linked to a Single Index” and “—Calculation Agent and Calculations” in the accompanying product supplement. In addition, MS & Co. has determined the estimated value of the securities on the pricing date.

The U.S. federal income tax consequences of an investment in the securities are uncertain. There is no direct legal authority as to the proper treatment of the securities for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and, therefore, significant aspects of the tax treatment of the securities are uncertain.

Please read the discussion under “Additional Information—Tax considerations” in this document concerning the U.S. federal income tax consequences of an investment in the securities. We intend to treat a security for U.S. federal income tax purposes as a single financial contract that provides for a coupon that will be treated as gross income to you at the time received or accrued, in accordance with your regular method of tax accounting. Under this treatment, the ordinary income treatment of the coupon payments, in conjunction with the capital loss treatment of any loss recognized upon the sale, exchange or settlement of the securities, could result in adverse tax consequences to holders of the securities because the deductibility of capital losses is subject to limitations. We do not plan to request a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) regarding the tax treatment of the securities, and the IRS or a court may not agree with the tax treatment described herein. If the IRS were successful in asserting an alternative treatment for the securities, the timing and character of income or loss on the securities might differ significantly from the tax treatment described herein. For example, under one possible treatment, the IRS could seek to recharacterize the securities as debt instruments. In that event, U.S. Holders (as defined below) would be required to accrue into income original issue discount on the securities every year at a “comparable yield” determined at the time of issuance (as adjusted based on the difference, if any, between the actual and the projected amount of any contingent payments on the securities) and recognize all income and gain in respect of the securities as ordinary income. The risk that financial instruments providing for buffers, triggers or similar downside protection features, such as the securities, would be recharacterized as debt is greater than the risk of recharacterization for comparable financial instruments that do not have such features.

Non-U.S. Holders (as defined below) should note that we currently intend to withhold on any coupon paid to Non-U.S. Holders generally at a rate of 30%, or at a reduced rate specified by an applicable income tax treaty under an “other income” or similar provision, and will not be required to pay any additional amounts with respect to amounts withheld.

In 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS released a notice requesting comments on the U.S. federal income tax treatment of “prepaid forward contracts” and similar instruments. While it is not clear whether the securities would be viewed as similar to the prepaid forward contracts described in the notice, it is possible that any Treasury regulations or other guidance promulgated after consideration of these issues could materially and adversely affect the tax consequences of an investment in the securities, possibly with retroactive effect. The notice focuses on a number of issues, the most relevant of which for holders of the securities are the character and timing of income or loss and the degree, if any, to which income realized by non-U.S. investors should be subject to withholding tax. Both U.S. and Non-U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers regarding the U.S. federal income tax consequences of an investment in the securities, including possible alternative treatments, the issues presented by this notice and any tax consequences arising under the laws of any state, local or non-U.S. taxing jurisdiction.

 

 

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Principal at Risk Securities

Risks Relating to the Underlying Index

Adjustments to the underlying index could adversely affect the value of the securities. The publisher of the underlying index may add, delete or substitute the component stocks of the underlying index or make other methodological changes that could change the value of the underlying index. Any of these actions could adversely affect the value of the securities. The publisher of the underlying index may also discontinue or suspend calculation or publication of the underlying index at any time. In these circumstances, MS & Co., as the calculation agent, will have the sole discretion to substitute a successor index that is comparable to the discontinued index. MS & Co. could have an economic interest that is different than that of investors in the securities insofar as, for example, MS & Co. is permitted to consider indices that are calculated and published by MS & Co. or any of its affiliates. If MS & Co. determines that there is no appropriate successor index on any observation date, the determination of whether the contingent semi-annual coupon will be payable on the securities on the applicable coupon payment date, whether the securities will be redeemed or the payment at maturity, as applicable, will be based on whether the value of the underlying index, based on the closing prices of the stocks constituting the underlying index at the time of such discontinuance, without rebalancing or substitution, computed by MS & Co. as calculation agent in accordance with the formula for calculating the underlying index last in effect prior to such discontinuance, is less than the coupon barrier level, initial index value or downside threshold level, as applicable.

 

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Principal at Risk Securities

S&P 500® Index Overview

The S&P 500® Index, which is calculated, maintained and published by S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (“S&P”), consists of stocks of 500 component companies selected to provide a performance benchmark for the U.S. equity markets. The calculation of the S&P 500® Index is based on the relative value of the float adjusted aggregate market capitalization of the 500 component companies as of a particular time as compared to the aggregate average market capitalization of 500 similar companies during the base period of the years 1941 through 1943. For additional information about the S&P 500® Index, see the information set forth under “S&P 500® Index” in the accompanying index supplement.

Information as of market close on March 3, 2021:

Bloomberg Ticker Symbol:

SPX

Current Index Value:

3,819.72

52 Weeks Ago:

3,003.37

52 Week High (on 2/12/2021):

3,934.83

52 Week Low (on 3/23/2020):

2,237.40

The following graph sets forth the daily closing values of the underlying index for the period from January 1, 2016 through March 3, 2021. The related table sets forth the published high and low closing values, as well as end-of-quarter closing values, of the underlying index for each quarter in the same period. The index closing value of the underlying index on March 3, 2021 was 3,819.72. We obtained the information in the table and graph below from Bloomberg Financial Markets, without independent verification. The underlying index has at times experienced periods of high volatility, and you should not take the historical values of the underlying index as an indication of its future performance. No assurance can be given as to the closing value of the underlying index on any observation date, including the final observation date.

S&P 500® Index Daily Closing Values

January 1, 2016 to March 3, 2021

 

* The black solid line indicates the hypothetical coupon barrier level, and the red solid line indicates the hypothetical downside threshold level, in each case assuming the index closing value on March 3, 2021 were the initial index value.

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Principal at Risk Securities

 

S&P 500® Index

High

Low

Period End

2016

 

 

 

First Quarter

2,063.95

1,829.08

2,059.74

Second Quarter

2,119.12

2,000.54

2,098.86

Third Quarter

2,190.15

2,088.55

2,168.27

Fourth Quarter

2,271.72

2,085.18

2,238.83

2017

 

 

 

First Quarter

2,395.96

2,257.83

2,362.72

Second Quarter

2,453.46

2,328.95

2,423.41

Third Quarter

2,519.36

2,409.75

2,519.36

Fourth Quarter

2,690.16

2,529.12

2,673.61

2018

 

 

 

First Quarter

2,872.87

2,581.00

2,640.87

Second Quarter

2,786.85

2,581.88

2,718.37

Third Quarter

2,930.75

2,713.22

2,913.98

Fourth Quarter

2,925.51

2,351.10

2,506.85

2019

 

 

 

First Quarter

2,854.88

2,447.89

2,834.40

Second Quarter

2,954.18

2,744.45

2,941.76

Third Quarter

3,025.86

2,840.60

2,976.74

Fourth Quarter

3,240.02

2,887.61

3,230.78

2020

 

 

 

First Quarter

3,386.15

2,237.40

2,584.59

Second Quarter

3,232.39

2,470.50

3,100.29

Third Quarter

3,580.84

3,115.86

3,363.00

Fourth Quarter

3,756.07

3,269.96

3,756.07

2021

 

 

 

First Quarter (through March 3, 2021)

3,934.83

3,700.65

3,819.72

 

“Standard & Poor’s®,” “S&P®,” “S&P 500®,” “Standard & Poor’s 500” and “500” are trademarks of Standard and Poor’s Financial Services LLC. For more information, see “S&P 500® Index” in the accompanying index supplement.

 

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Principal at Risk Securities

Additional Terms of the Securities

Please read this information in conjunction with the summary terms on the front cover of this document.

Additional Terms:

 

If the terms described herein are inconsistent with those described in the accompanying product supplement, index supplement or prospectus, the terms described herein shall control.

Day-count convention:

Interest will be computed on the basis of a 360-day year of twelve 30-day months.

Interest period:

The semi-annual period from and including the original issue date (in the case of the first interest period) or the previous scheduled coupon payment date, as applicable, to but excluding the following scheduled coupon payment date, with no adjustment for any postponement thereof.

Record date:

The record date for each coupon payment date shall be the date one business day prior to such scheduled coupon payment date; provided, however, that any contingent semi-annual coupon payable at maturity or upon redemption shall be payable to the person to whom the payment at maturity or early redemption payment, as the case may be, shall be payable.

Underlying index publisher:

S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, or any successor thereof

Postponement of maturity date:

If the scheduled final observation date is not an index business day or if a market disruption event occurs on that day so that the final observation date is postponed and falls less than two business days prior to the scheduled maturity date, the maturity date of the securities will be postponed to the second business day following that final observation date as postponed.

Postponement of coupon payment dates:

If a coupon payment date (including the maturity date) is postponed as a result of the postponement of the relevant observation date, no adjustment shall be made to any contingent semi-annual coupon paid on that postponed date.

Listing:

The securities will not be listed on any securities exchange.

Trustee:

The Bank of New York Mellon

Calculation agent:

MS & Co.

Issuer notices to registered security holders, the trustee and the depositary:

In the event that the maturity date is postponed due to postponement of the final observation date, the issuer shall give notice of such postponement and, once it has been determined, of the date to which the maturity date has been rescheduled (i) to each registered holder of the securities by mailing notice of such postponement by first class mail, postage prepaid, to such registered holder’s last address as it shall appear upon the registry books, (ii) to the trustee by facsimile, confirmed by mailing such notice to the trustee by first class mail, postage prepaid, at its New York office and (iii) to The Depository Trust Company (the “depositary”) by telephone or facsimile confirmed by mailing such notice to the depositary by first class mail, postage prepaid. Any notice that is mailed to a registered holder of the securities in the manner herein provided shall be conclusively presumed to have been duly given to such registered holder, whether or not such registered holder receives the notice. The issuer shall give such notice as promptly as possible, and in no case later than (i) with respect to notice of postponement of the maturity date, the business day immediately preceding the scheduled maturity date and (ii) with respect to notice of the date to which the maturity date has been rescheduled, the business day immediately following the final observation date as postponed.

In the event that the securities are subject to early redemption, the issuer shall, (i) on the business day following the applicable redemption determination date, give notice of the early redemption and the early redemption payment, including specifying the payment date of the amount due upon the early redemption, (x) to each registered holder of the securities by mailing notice of such early redemption by first class mail, postage prepaid, to such registered holder’s last address as it shall appear upon the registry books, (y) to the trustee by facsimile confirmed by mailing such notice to the trustee by first class mail, postage prepaid, at its New York office and (z) to the depositary by telephone or facsimile confirmed by mailing such notice to the depositary by first class mail, postage prepaid, and (ii) on or prior to the early redemption date, deliver the aggregate cash amount due with respect to the securities to the trustee for delivery to the depositary, as holder of the securities. Any notice that is mailed to a registered holder of the securities in the manner herein provided shall be conclusively presumed to have been duly given to such registered holder, whether or not such registered holder receives the notice. This notice shall be given by the issuer or, at the issuer’s request, by the trustee in the name and at the expense of the issuer, with any such request to be accompanied by a copy of the notice to be given.

The issuer shall, or shall cause the calculation agent to, (i) provide written notice to the trustee, on which notice the trustee may conclusively rely, and to the depositary of the amount of cash to be delivered as contingent semi-annual coupon, if any, with respect to each security on or prior to 10:30 a.m. (New York City time) on the business day preceding each coupon payment date, and (ii) deliver the aggregate cash amount due, if any, with respect to the contingent semi-annual coupon to the trustee for delivery to the depositary, as holder of the securities, on the applicable coupon payment date.

The issuer shall, or shall cause the calculation agent to, (i) provide written notice to the trustee, on which notice the trustee may conclusively rely, and to the depositary of the amount of cash to be delivered, if any, with respect to each stated principal amount of the securities, on or prior to 10:30 a.m. (New York City time) on the business day preceding the maturity date, and (ii) deliver the aggregate cash amount, if any, due with respect to the securities to the trustee for delivery to the depositary, as holder of the securities, on the maturity date.

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Additional Information About the Securities

 

Additional Information:

 

Minimum ticketing size:

$1,000 / 1 security

Tax considerations:

Prospective investors should note that the discussion under the section called “United States Federal Taxation” in the accompanying product supplement does not apply to the securities issued under this document and is superseded by the following discussion.

 

The following is a general discussion of the material U.S. federal income tax consequences and certain estate tax consequences of the ownership and disposition of the securities. This discussion applies only to investors in the securities who:

 

purchase the securities in the original offering; and

hold the securities as capital assets within the meaning of Section 1221 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”).

This discussion does not describe all of the tax consequences that may be relevant to a holder in light of the holder’s particular circumstances or to holders subject to special rules, such as:

certain financial institutions;

insurance companies;

certain dealers and traders in securities or commodities;

investors holding the securities as part of a “straddle,” wash sale, conversion transaction, integrated transaction or constructive sale transaction;

U.S. Holders (as defined below) whose functional currency is not the U.S. dollar;

partnerships or other entities classified as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes;

regulated investment companies;

real estate investment trusts; or

tax-exempt entities, including “individual retirement accounts” or “Roth IRAs” as defined in Section 408 or 408A of the Code, respectively.

 

If an entity that is classified as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes holds the securities, the U.S. federal income tax treatment of a partner will generally depend on the status of the partner and the activities of the partnership. If you are a partnership holding the securities or a partner in such a partnership, you should consult your tax adviser as to the particular U.S. federal tax consequences of holding and disposing of the securities to you.

As the law applicable to the U.S. federal income taxation of instruments such as the securities is technical and complex, the discussion below necessarily represents only a general summary. The effect of any applicable state, local or non-U.S. tax laws is not discussed, nor are any alternative minimum tax consequences or consequences resulting from the Medicare tax on investment income. Moreover, the discussion below does not address the consequences to taxpayers subject to special tax accounting rules under Section 451(b) of the Code.

This discussion is based on the Code, administrative pronouncements, judicial decisions and final, temporary and proposed Treasury regulations, all as of the date hereof, changes to any of which subsequent to the date hereof may affect the tax consequences described herein. Persons considering the purchase of the securities should consult their tax advisers with regard to the application of the U.S. federal income tax laws to their particular situations as well as any tax consequences arising under the laws of any state, local or non-U.S. taxing jurisdiction.

General

Due to the absence of statutory, judicial or administrative authorities that directly address the treatment of the securities or instruments that are similar to the securities for U.S. federal income tax purposes, no assurance can be given that the IRS or a court will agree with the tax treatment described herein. We intend to treat a security for U.S. federal income tax purposes as a single financial contract that provides for a coupon that will be treated as gross income to you at the time received or accrued in accordance with your regular method of tax accounting. In the opinion of our counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, this treatment of the securities is reasonable under current law; however, our counsel has advised us that it is unable to conclude affirmatively that this treatment is more likely than not to be upheld, and that alternative treatments are possible. Moreover, our counsel’s opinion is based on

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market conditions as of the date of this preliminary pricing supplement and is subject to confirmation on the pricing date.

You should consult your tax adviser regarding all aspects of the U.S. federal tax consequences of an investment in the securities (including possible alternative treatments of the securities). Unless otherwise stated, the following discussion is based on the treatment of each security as described in the previous paragraph.

Tax Consequences to U.S. Holders

This section applies to you only if you are a U.S. Holder. As used herein, the term “U.S. Holder” means a beneficial owner of a security that is, for U.S. federal income tax purposes:

a citizen or individual resident of the United States;

a corporation, or other entity taxable as a corporation, created or organized in or under the laws of the United States, any state thereof or the District of Columbia; or

an estate or trust the income of which is subject to U.S. federal income taxation regardless of its source.

Tax Treatment of the Securities

Assuming the treatment of the securities as set forth above is respected, the following U.S. federal income tax consequences should result.

 Tax Basis. A U.S. Holder’s tax basis in the securities should equal the amount paid by the U.S. Holder to acquire the securities.

 

 Tax Treatment of Coupon Payments. Any coupon payment on the securities should be taxable as ordinary income to a U.S. Holder at the time received or accrued, in accordance with the U.S. Holder’s regular method of accounting for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

 

 Sale, Exchange or Settlement of the Securities. Upon a sale, exchange or settlement of the securities, a U.S. Holder should recognize gain or loss equal to the difference between the amount realized on the sale, exchange or settlement and the U.S. Holder’s tax basis in the securities sold, exchanged or settled. For this purpose, the amount realized does not include any coupon paid at settlement and may not include sale proceeds attributable to an accrued coupon, which may be treated as a coupon payment. Any such gain or loss recognized should be long-term capital gain or loss if the U.S. Holder has held the securities for more than one year at the time of the sale, exchange or settlement, and should be short-term capital gain or loss otherwise. The ordinary income treatment of the coupon payments, in conjunction with the capital loss treatment of any loss recognized upon the sale, exchange or settlement of the securities, could result in adverse tax consequences to holders of the securities because the deductibility of capital losses is subject to limitations.

Possible Alternative Tax Treatments of an Investment in the Securities

 

Due to the absence of authorities that directly address the proper tax treatment of the securities, no assurance can be given that the IRS will accept, or that a court will uphold, the treatment described above. In particular, the IRS could seek to analyze the U.S. federal income tax consequences of owning the securities under Treasury regulations governing contingent payment debt instruments (the “Contingent Debt Regulations”). If the IRS were successful in asserting that the Contingent Debt Regulations applied to the securities, the timing and character of income thereon would be significantly affected. Among other things, a U.S. Holder would be required to accrue into income original issue discount on the securities every year at a “comparable yield” determined at the time of their issuance, adjusted upward or downward to reflect the difference, if any, between the actual and the projected amount of any contingent payments on the securities. Furthermore, any gain realized by a U.S. Holder at maturity or upon a sale, exchange or other disposition of the securities would be treated as ordinary income, and any loss realized would be treated as ordinary loss to the extent of the U.S. Holder’s prior accruals of original issue discount and as capital loss thereafter. The risk that financial instruments providing for buffers, triggers or similar downside protection features, such as the securities, would be recharacterized as debt is greater than the risk of recharacterization for comparable financial instruments that do not have such features.

 

Other alternative federal income tax treatments of the securities are possible, which, if applied, could significantly affect the timing and character of the income or loss with respect to the securities. In 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS released a notice requesting comments on the U.S.

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federal income tax treatment of “prepaid forward contracts” and similar instruments. The notice focuses on whether to require holders of “prepaid forward contracts” and similar instruments to accrue income over the term of their investment. It also asks for comments on a number of related topics, including the character of income or loss with respect to these instruments; whether short-term instruments should be subject to any such accrual regime; the relevance of factors such as the exchange–traded status of the instruments and the nature of the underlying property to which the instruments are linked; whether these instruments are or should be subject to the “constructive ownership” rule, which very generally can operate to recharacterize certain long-term capital gain as ordinary income and impose an interest charge; and appropriate transition rules and effective dates. While it is not clear whether instruments such as the securities would be viewed as similar to the prepaid forward contracts described in the notice, any Treasury regulations or other guidance promulgated after consideration of these issues could materially and adversely affect the tax consequences of an investment in the securities, possibly with retroactive effect. U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers regarding the U.S. federal income tax consequences of an investment in the securities, including possible alternative treatments and the issues presented by this notice.

 

Backup Withholding and Information Reporting

 

Backup withholding may apply in respect of payments on the securities and the payment of proceeds from a sale, exchange or other disposition of the securities, unless a U.S. Holder provides proof of an applicable exemption or a correct taxpayer identification number and otherwise complies with applicable requirements of the backup withholding rules. The amounts withheld under the backup withholding rules are not an additional tax and may be refunded, or credited against the U.S. Holder’s U.S. federal income tax liability, provided that the required information is timely furnished to the IRS.  In addition, information returns will be filed with the IRS in connection with payments on the securities and the payment of proceeds from a sale, exchange or other disposition of the securities, unless the U.S. Holder provides proof of an applicable exemption from the information reporting rules.

 

Tax Consequences to Non-U.S. Holders

 

This section applies to you only if you are a Non-U.S. Holder. As used herein, the term “Non-U.S. Holder” means a beneficial owner of a security that is for U.S. federal income tax purposes:

 

an individual who is classified as a nonresident alien;

a foreign corporation; or

a foreign estate or trust.

The term “Non-U.S. Holder” does not include any of the following holders:

a holder who is an individual present in the United States for 183 days or more in the taxable year of disposition and who is not otherwise a resident of the United States for U.S. federal income tax purposes;

certain former citizens or residents of the United States; or

a holder for whom income or gain in respect of the securities is effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States.

Such holders should consult their tax advisers regarding the U.S. federal income tax consequences of an investment in the securities.

 

Although significant aspects of the tax treatment of each security are uncertain, we intend to withhold on any coupon paid to a Non-U.S. Holder generally at a rate of 30% or at a reduced rate specified by an applicable income tax treaty under an “other income” or similar provision. We will not be required to pay any additional amounts with respect to amounts withheld. In order to claim an exemption from, or a reduction in, the 30% withholding tax, a Non-U.S. Holder of the securities must comply with certification requirements to establish that it is not a U.S. person and is eligible for such an exemption or reduction under an applicable tax treaty. If you are a Non-U.S. Holder, you should consult your tax adviser regarding the tax treatment of the securities, including the possibility of obtaining a refund of any withholding tax and the certification requirement described above.

 

Section 871(m) Withholding Tax on Dividend Equivalents

 

Section 871(m) of the Code and Treasury regulations promulgated thereunder (“Section 871(m)”) generally impose a 30% (or a lower applicable treaty rate) withholding tax on dividend equivalents paid or deemed paid to Non-U.S. Holders with respect to certain financial instruments linked to U.S. equities or indices that include U.S. equities (each, an “Underlying Security”). Subject to certain exceptions,

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Section 871(m) generally applies to securities that substantially replicate the economic performance of one or more Underlying Securities, as determined based on tests set forth in the applicable Treasury regulations (a “Specified Security”). However, pursuant to an IRS notice, Section 871(m) will not apply to securities issued before January 1, 2023 that do not have a delta of one with respect to any Underlying Security. Based on the terms of the securities and current market conditions, we expect that the securities will not have a delta of one with respect to any Underlying Security on the pricing date. However, we will provide an updated determination in the pricing supplement. Assuming that the securities do not have a delta of one with respect to any Underlying Security, our counsel is of the opinion that the securities should not be Specified Securities and, therefore, should not be subject to Section 871(m).

 

Our determination is not binding on the IRS, and the IRS may disagree with this determination. Section 871(m) is complex and its application may depend on your particular circumstances, including whether you enter into other transactions with respect to an Underlying Security. If Section 871(m) withholding is required, we will not be required to pay any additional amounts with respect to the amounts so withheld. You should consult your tax adviser regarding the potential application of Section 871(m) to the securities.

 

U.S. Federal Estate Tax

 

Individual Non-U.S. Holders and entities the property of which is potentially includible in such an individual’s gross estate for U.S. federal estate tax purposes (for example, a trust funded by such an individual and with respect to which the individual has retained certain interests or powers) should note that, absent an applicable treaty exemption, the securities may be treated as U.S.-situs property subject to U.S. federal estate tax. Prospective investors that are non-U.S. individuals, or are entities of the type described above, should consult their tax advisers regarding the U.S. federal estate tax consequences of an investment in the securities.

 

Backup Withholding and Information Reporting

 

Information returns will be filed with the IRS in connection with any coupon payment and may be filed with the IRS in connection with the payment at maturity on the securities and the payment of proceeds from a sale, exchange or other disposition. A Non-U.S. Holder may be subject to backup withholding in respect of amounts paid to the Non-U.S. Holder, unless such Non-U.S. Holder complies with certification procedures to establish that it is not a U.S. person for U.S. federal income tax purposes or otherwise establishes an exemption. The amount of any backup withholding from a payment to a Non-U.S. Holder will be allowed as a credit against the Non-U.S. Holder’s U.S. federal income tax liability and may entitle the Non-U.S. Holder to a refund, provided that the required information is timely furnished to the IRS.

 

FATCA

Legislation commonly referred to as “FATCA” generally imposes a withholding tax of 30% on payments to certain non-U.S. entities (including financial intermediaries) with respect to certain financial instruments, unless various U.S. information reporting and due diligence requirements have been satisfied. An intergovernmental agreement between the United States and the non-U.S. entity’s jurisdiction may modify these requirements. FATCA generally applies to certain financial instruments that are treated as paying U.S.-source interest or other U.S.-source “fixed or determinable annual or periodical” income (“FDAP income”). Withholding (if applicable) applies to payments of U.S.-source FDAP income and to payments of gross proceeds of the disposition (including upon retirement) of certain financial instruments treated as providing for U.S.-source interest or dividends. Under recently proposed regulations (the preamble to which specifies that taxpayers are permitted to rely on them pending finalization), no withholding will apply on payments of gross proceeds (other than amounts treated as FDAP income). While the treatment of the securities is unclear, you should assume that any coupon payment with respect to the securities will be subject to the FATCA rules. If withholding applies to the securities, we will not be required to pay any additional amounts with respect to amounts withheld. Both U.S. and Non-U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers regarding the potential application of FATCA to the securities.

 

The discussion in the preceding paragraphs, insofar as it purports to describe provisions of U.S. federal income tax laws or legal conclusions with respect thereto, constitutes the full opinion of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP regarding the material U.S. federal tax consequences of an investment in the securities.

Use of proceeds and hedging:

The proceeds from the sale of the securities will be used by us for general corporate purposes. We will receive, in aggregate, $1,000 per security issued. The costs of the securities borne by you and described

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beginning on page 2 above comprise the cost of issuing, structuring and hedging the securities.

On or prior to the pricing date, we will hedge our anticipated exposure in connection with the securities, by entering into hedging transactions with our affiliates and/or third-party dealers. We expect our hedging counterparties to take positions in the stocks constituting the underlying index, in futures and/or options contracts on the underlying index or the component stocks of the underlying index listed on major securities markets, or positions in any other available securities or instruments that they may wish to use in connection with such hedging. Such purchase activity could potentially increase the initial index value, and, as a result, could increase (i) the coupon barrier level, which is the value at or above which the underlying index must close on each observation date so that you receive a contingent semi-annual coupon on the securities, and (ii) the downside threshold level, which is the value at or above which the underlying index must close on the final observation date in order for you to avoid being exposed to the negative performance of the underlying index at maturity. These entities may be unwinding or adjusting hedge positions during the term of the securities, and the hedging strategy may involve greater and more frequent dynamic adjustments to the hedge as the final observation date approaches. Additionally, our hedging activities, as well as our other trading activities, during the term of the securities could potentially affect the value of the underlying index on the observation dates, and, accordingly, the payment to you at maturity, if any, and whether we pay a contingent semi-annual coupon on the securities.

Additional considerations:

Client accounts over which Morgan Stanley, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management or any of their respective subsidiaries have investment discretion are not permitted to purchase the securities, either directly or indirectly.

Supplemental information regarding plan of distribution; conflicts of interest:

MS & Co. expects to sell all of the securities that it purchases from us to an unaffiliated dealer at a price of $ per security, for further sale to certain fee-based advisory accounts at the price to public of $1,000 per security. MS & Co. will not receive a sales commission with respect to the securities.

MS & Co. is an affiliate of MSFL and a wholly owned subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, and it and other affiliates of ours expect to make a profit by selling, structuring and, when applicable, hedging the securities. When MS & Co. prices this offering of securities, it will determine the economic terms of the securities, including the contingent semi-annual coupon rate, such that for each security the estimated value on the pricing date will be no lower than the minimum level described in “Investment Summary” beginning on page 3.

MS & Co. will conduct this offering in compliance with the requirements of FINRA Rule 5121 of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc., which is commonly referred to as FINRA, regarding a FINRA member firm’s distribution of the securities of an affiliate and related conflicts of interest. MS & Co. or any of our other affiliates may not make sales in this offering to any discretionary account. See “Plan of Distribution (Conflicts of Interest)” and “Use of Proceeds and Hedging” in the accompanying product supplement for auto-callable securities.

Where you can find more information:

Morgan Stanley and MSFL have filed a registration statement (including a prospectus, as supplemented by the product supplement for auto-callable securities and the index supplement) with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, for the offering to which this communication relates. You should read the prospectus in that registration statement, the product supplement for auto-callable securities, the index supplement and any other documents relating to this offering that Morgan Stanley and MSFL have filed with the SEC for more complete information about Morgan Stanley, MSFL and this offering. You may get these documents without cost by visiting EDGAR on the SEC web site at www.sec.gov. Alternatively, Morgan Stanley, MSFL, any underwriter or any dealer participating in the offering will arrange to send you the product supplement for auto-callable securities, index supplement and prospectus if you so request by calling toll-free 1-(800)-584-6837.

You may access these documents on the SEC web site at www.sec.gov as follows:

Product Supplement for Auto-Callable Securities dated November 16, 2020

Index Supplement dated November 16, 2020

Prospectus dated November 16, 2020

Terms used but not defined in this document are defined in the product supplement for auto-callable securities, in the index supplement or in the prospectus.

 

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