I used to run a limited partnership, boutique hedge fund in the 90s. Retired in 2000 and moved from New York City to Toronto, Canada, got married, raised a family and basically settled down. After a few years in Toronto, my wife got tired of the city’s 8 months of cold weather and insisted that we move to a city where there are 8 months of warm and balmy weather. So we settled on San Diego, CA and moved here in 2005 and now call this lovely city with the most perfect weather, home. After moving to Sun Diego, I decided to come out of retirement and start an Internet company that helps non-profits, especially school PTAs, raise money. After a somewhat long development period, my start-up, called donornation.org, went live this month (December 2012)! The response so far has been quite encouraging and I intend to take the company from its current, local San Diego focus, to nationwide, hopefully in the next 2 years. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think…any feedback and suggestions to help improve the site is always welcome. Being that my day job is running a tech start-up, I don’t have the time to be an active trader…However, being an avid market watcher and investor, I started this blog to maintain a public record of my views on the economy, the markets and my stock picks. My space here has given me the opportunity to share my analysis, good, bad and the ugly, with everyone. It has also allowed me to keep a running scorecard on how effective my investment ideas have been. About a year ago, just after my Options2Wealth blog's public portfolio recorded 10,000%+ return in less than 6 months, I received an offer to write a book based on my blog's accomplishment by one of the most respected literary agents in the United States. This was a totally unintended and unexpected result of my original motivation which was to simply help demystify derivatives (options) and show how just about anyone, armed with the ability to read stock charts, can take advantage of the most powerful wealth building tool legally available to us all. Based on the fact that some of my readers were able to mimic my moves and achieve returns of as much as 4,000%+ tells me that my blog has succeeded in its raison d'être. Finally, I shall be remiss if I did not acknowledge the many public and private comments / messages that I have received, and continue to receive, from my readers here. I want to take this opportunity to let you know that I'm extremely grateful, and humbled, to all those who have taken the time to share your comments, kind thoughts and warm wishes with me...Should you not receive a reply, please do not take my lack of responsiveness as a sign of hubris...Due to my various interests and activities and the fact that I spend a considerable amount of time traveling, my free time is extremely limited and if I have not responded to your message, please accept my sincere apologies... Best of Luck to All! karim pirani
I am a CFA Charterholder with 5 years of equity research experience and an MBA from Indiana University. I specialize in finding undervalued investment opportunities that offer an attractive return and margin of safety through deep fundamental analysis and valuation. Often I look for companies that the market does not understand or has otherwise dismissed because of a consensus theme that I believe incorrect. I also seek out special situations in which an upcoming catalyst can add value for shareholders. I believe the macro environment is an important backdrop for any investment and, unlike some value investors, I consider the economic context in which companies operate as part of my analysis. Although my background includes time specializing in the homebuilders and building products companies, I consider myself a generalist and look for attractive investments across all sectors.
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Jeff is the President of NewArc Investments Inc., manager of both individual and institutional investments. Jeff is a registered investment advisor, and portfolio manager for NewArc's investment programs. Jeff is a former college professor with a hands-on, real world attitude. His quantitative modeling helped inform state and local officials in Wisconsin for more than a decade. A Public Policy analyst, he taught advanced research methods at the University of Wisconsin, and analyzed many issues related to state tax policy. Jeff began in the financial business as Research Director for trading firm at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. He investigated anomalies in the standard option pricing models, taught classes for beginning options traders, and developed new forecasting techniques. In 1991 he established a general research consultancy, working with professional traders at all of the Chicago financial exchanges. In 1998 he started NewArc Investments, Inc. Jeff has a commitment to the specific needs of individual investors. It is not a one-size-fits all approach, but one that emphasizes the unique circumstances of each client. Jeff also serves on the board of two small technology companies (currently Chairman at one). He is occasionally as an expert witness in legal cases involving financial markets and hedging.
I'm an asset manager at Hebba Alternative Investments with a focus on real assets. In my articles I like to focus on events that affect the macro environment for assets (especially gold and silver), and also introduce readers to different metrics that I believe are under-utilized when assessing investments.
On a more personal note, I'm a firm believer that there can be honesty, morality, and integrity in finance (though its rare) and i'd like to believe that I stick to those principles. Thus I never "pump and dump" stocks, I always list the securities we own, and I take it very seriously when I recommend a company - I do not want to see any investors/readers lose money because of my recommendations.
I'm not always right with recommendations, but investors and readers can know that I always tell the truth (there is no deception) and I eat my own cooking as recommendations are either always owned OR the reason I dont own them is given (usually related to restrictions on stocks I can buy).
Advising people in financial matters is a serious issue and integrity is much more important than money to me, but I do believe both can co-exist. You live with money, but after your death you only have your morality and integrity and thus i've made my choice between the two. A bit philosophical for a bio, but I dont think there's a better way to give investors my background than that.
We offer investors a free weekly email list detailing gold, silver, and general economic markets which you can sign up for at: http://www.communitysynergy.com/subscribe/hebbainvestments_subscribe.html
Don Dion (email@example.com, @DRDInvestments) is the owner and Chief Investment Officer of DRD Investments, LLC, based in Naples, FL. and Williamstown, MA., a family office focused on managing a long/short hedge fund, real estate assets, venture capital, and various other financial assets for the Dion family. Don no longer manages money for other families or institutions after selling Dion Money Management to NYC-based Focus Financial Partners in September of 2007 prior to the Great Recession. Don remains one of the largest individual shareholders of Focus Financial Partners. Mr. Dion is the managing trustee of the Dion Family Foundation, which focuses on helping individuals with tuition assistance at Catholic Institutions for grammar school, high school, and college education. The foundation also helps individuals by supporting health care institutions, particularly Massachusetts General Hospital. Don is on three leadership and advisory committees at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Home Base Program (a partnership between Mass General and the Red Sox Foundation). Don consults with Saint Dominic's Academy and served on the executive committee as a trustee of Saint Michaels College. In addition, Mr. Dion is the retired publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser (http://www.fidelityadviser.com/) family of newsletters, which provided a broad range of investor commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 90,000 subscribers in the United States and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser published two monthly newsletters and one weekly newsletter. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, was published monthly for 16 years and reached over 60,000 subscribers. Mr. Dion is the sole founder and retired C.E.O. of Dion Money Management (http://www.dionmm.com/), a fee-based investment advisory firm for affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he was responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios, and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Massachusetts and Naples, FL., Dion Money Management managed over $900 million in assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries, He fortunately sold the company to Focus Financial Partners on September 1, 2007 prior to the Great Recession. Mr. Dion was the Chairman and C.E.O. of Litchfield Financial Corp. "LTCH" a NASDAQ listed company which he founded with Summit Partners in 1988. LTCH went public in 1992 and was acquired by Textron Corp. "TXT" in 1999 for $183M of cash consideration. Don was the Executive Vice President, C.F.O., shareholder and General Counsel for Bluegreen Corp. "BXG" a NYSE company from 1986 to 1988. Mr. Dion graduated with honors from Saint Michaels College in 1976 with a B.S. degree in Economics and Business Administration. He received his J.D. degree from the University of Maine Law School in 1979 and his LL.M. degree from Boston University Law School in 1982. After law school, Mr Dion was employed as a tax and estate planning lawyer with the Boston firm of Warner and Stackpole from 1983 to 1985 and Ernst and Young as a C.P.A. from 1979 to 1983. Recently, Don has been spending some of his time researching and strategizing about IPOs, building on his prior experience of successfully taking companies public and six strong years of U.S. IPO returns (2009 to 2015). Mr. Dion can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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If you copied Don Dion's ratings since 2013 and opened each position for the duration of 1 Year , then 59% of your transactions would have been profitable with an average return of +7.7%.
I am a market enthusiast and part-time trader. I started writing for Seeking Alpha in 2011, and it has been a tremendous opportunity and learning experience. I have been interested in the markets since elementary school, and hope to pursue a career in the investment management industry. I have been active in the markets for several years, and am primarily focused on long/short equities.
I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree from Lehigh University, where I double majored in Finance and Accounting, with a minor in History. My major track focused on Investments and Financial Analysis. While at Lehigh, I was the Head Portfolio Manager of the Investment Management Group, a student group that manages three portfolios, one long/short and two long only. I have had two internships, one a summer internship at a large bank, and another helping to manage the Lehigh University Endowment for nearly a year.
Disclaimer: Bill reminds investors to always due their own due diligence on any investment, and to consult their own financial adviser or representative when necessary. Any material provided is intended as general information only, and should not be considered or relied upon as a formal investment recommendation.
We have over 60 years of investment analysis experience. We have published investment research from the perspective of the buy side and the sell side. Our work has been used by institutions managing over $1 trillion in aggregate. We have published reports from both the long and short perspective and have worked with the largest short selling mutual fund in the world. We are long term value investors. It is our belief that, contrary to popular opinion, most individual investors and patient professional investors have the best opportunity since the beginning of our investment career to beat institutional and mutual fund managers in terms of risk adjusted performance. The "Information Arbitrage" advantage institutional investors have had is mostly eliminated, while the individual investor still can maintain an edge with "Time Arbitrage". Our goal is to provide institutional quality buy side articles that educate and stimulate investors in the hope of improving their returns. We also are willing to mentor young analysis who wish to improve their analytical skills.
I apologize to investors who follow my articles, but I don't currently plan to resume any involvement with SA, though that may eventually change, if the site ever implements/enforces deterrents to web stalkers. For now, I only publicly share opinions on stocks via Twitter, StockTwits, etc. The rest of what follows is my normal profile, so I won't have to rewrite it, should I ever continue posting on SA. Best of luck investing. Cheers. I run a small family office managing long-term portfolios and special projects beyond the capital markets. I'm fortunate to have worked for a NYSE-traded financial firm for the decade through 2010, but I am not an adviser, my articles only share our investing actions/opinions, and they are not investment advice. Proof is in the pudding, so here are our stock portfolio returns from the most recent five years: 2012 +32%, 2013 +52%, 2014 +11%, 2015 +14%, and 2016H1 +19.8% (those are just capital gains, but all holdings pay dividends). Returns are moderating as expected, since most positions were rebuilt/opened in 2010-2012 at extreme undervaluation levels, yet only a few new positions have been opened each of the last few years at moderate undervaluation levels. I also trade around core positions for short-term profits, but I do not include trade gains in portfolio return tracking, and my articles are strictly about long-term investing. My investing career started in the 1980s, and the transition to full-time was finalized in 2009. I only list returns from 2012 because that's when I became most active on SA, and the stock calls that led to those results can be verified here. For 2008-2011, my focus was shorter-term trades, which made total annual returns harder to tally, so without wasting time backtracking, I can only say returns were worthwhile. For most years prior, I was a blue-chip-only, buy-and-hold guy, which also worked well, so I still own most of those stocks in accounts separate from our actively-managed portfolios.
Seeking Alpha's transcripts team is responsible for the development of all of our transcript-related projects. We currently publish thousands of quarterly earnings calls per quarter on our site and are continuing to grow and expand our coverage.
The purpose of this profile is to allow us to share with our readers new transcript-related developments.
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As I'm a long-term investor, I'll highlight some stockpicks which will have a 5-7 year investment horizon. As I strongly believe a portfolio should consist of a mixture of dividend-paying stocks and growth stocks, my articles will reflect my thoughts on this mixture.
Analyst and Fund Manager with almost 20 years investment experience. Coverage includes a variety of industries, with a focus on technology.
Particularly focused on value stocks, poorly understood or under-followed situations, and contrarian perspectives.
Primarily invest in special situations with value that is poorly understood or not fully appreciated, or where we believe there is a highly asymetric risk/reward profile. Also look for long/short ideas in mid/larger cap names where we believe we have a variant view, and the market is dramatically mispricing value.
Follow me on Twitter @valinsights
Please note that the article that you are reading here was originally written on my blog and is republished in Seeking Alpha and other forums. Consequently, I neither track nor respond to comments here. I am sorry! ================ Editors' Note: Seeking Alpha monitors Dr. Damodaran blog and posts relevant articles on his behalf.
Stephen Simpson, CFA, is a freelance financial writer and investor.
I have worked for both sell-side and buy-side firms (equities and fixed income), with the largest percentage of my working time spent in med-tech. At this point I am now effectively in a "working retirement".
I write because I find that the process helps me take better notes, be more disciplined about modeling, and come up with a more coherent investment view for my portfolio management needs. If I'm writing about a stock, it's generally because I'm interested in it as an investment prospect or I think there's an interesting story to tell.
I don't share my models, so please don't ask.
More of my writings can be found at my blog Kratisto Investing (kratistoinvesting.blogspot.com), or Twitter (@Kratisto_Invest).
Chris DeMuth Jr. is the founder of Rangeley Capital LLC. Rangeley is an investment firm that focuses on event driven, value-oriented investment opportunities. Rangeley Capital and his value investing forum, Sifting the World (StW), search the world for misplaced bets. Rangeley exploits them for its investors and then Mr. DeMuth writes about them on StW.
10 years of buy-side investment experience.
Disclaimer: Any content on this site is NOT investment, trading, legal, or tax advice, and none of the information available through this website is intended to provide tax, legal, investment or trading advice. Nothing provided through this content whether by the owner or posted by other writers constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of securities/futures. The content on this site is intended for informational purposes only, and should never be used as investment advice. Please do your own research before making any investment decisions.
During the IPO season Francis Gaskins, editor of IPOdesktop.com & director of research for Equities.com, regularly appears on CNBC TV, Bloomberg, thestreet.com & other financial cable channels. On the day of the Visa IPO he appeared on four cable TV financial shows including Bloomberg & CNBC.
Over the past five years he has been quoted over 500 times by such financial media as the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, USA Today among others. Those quotes are available at IPOdesktop.com.
His varied personal interests include violin playing. For example, he is concertmaster of the Palisades Symphony. He also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School (finance) and an AB from Princeton University (economics).
Charles (Chuck) C. Carnevale is the creator of F.A.S.T. Graphs™. Chuck is also co-founder of an investment management firm. He has been working in the securities industry since 1970: he has been a partner with a private NYSE member firm, the President of a NASD firm, Vice President and Regional Marketing Director for a major AMEX listed company, and an Associate Vice President and Investment Consulting Services Coordinator for a major NYSE member firm. Prior to forming his own investment firm, he was a partner in a 30-year-old established registered investment advisory in Tampa, Florida. Chuck holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Finance from the University of Tampa. Chuck is a sought-after public speaker who is very passionate about spreading the critical message of prudence in money management. Chuck is a Veteran of the Vietnam War and was awarded both the Bronze Star and the Vietnam Honor Medal.
Follow @SmithOnStocks on Twitter for more updates (http://twitter.com/#SmithOnStocks
Please read this section carefully for some important disclosures.
Who Am I?
My name is Larry Smith. My career was spent on Wall Street as a biotechnology and pharmaceuticals analyst and also as Director of Research at Smith Barney and Hambrecht and Quist. On my website, SmithOnStocks, which can be addressed from this Seeking Alpha site, I publish articles on biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. I attempt to be objective and present a balanced view of negatives and positives. Readers should not rely on Seeking Alpha for my latest views and articles on Seeking Alpha should be viewed as informational only. The reports section of my website reflects my most current view on a stock.
How Do I Get Paid?
My only source of revenues from my articles is from subscription revenues from my website. I do not receive any compensation from companies or investor relations firms to write articles. I do not receive any direct or indirect compensation from hedge funds, other investment managers or any entity to write articles. I consider direct compensation to be cash compensation that is directly or indirectly tied to my writing articles.
I also do not receive compensation in the form of content. I believe that it is not uncommon for some writers to receive content from hedge funds, other investment managers or any entity that are critical components of the articles that they write. I consider this as non-cash compensation. I do not receive advertising revenues from my website so there is no incentive to be sensational in order to create page hits. I only get paid if my subscribers believe that my articles are of value to them and they then decide to subscribe to my services.
You Should View Articles Published on Seeking Alpha as Informational Only
I want to make clear to readers that not all of the reports that I publish on my website are also published on Seeking Alpha. Also, I will sometimes make reports available on my website a significant period of time before publishing the same or a condensed version on Seeking Alpha. All of the articles that are published on Seeking Alpha and my website at the same time have consistent views and opinions. However, at a later data, it may be the case that my viewpoint and opinion may change and these changes in viewpoint and opinion may only be published in articles on my website.
For this reason, readers may want to check the reports section on my website for my current opinion on a stock and should not rely on the latest Seeking Alpha article as my viewpoint or opinion may have changed. The content on my website is intended only for subscribers, but non-subscribers can view the headlines in the reports section which in most cases but not all will announce a change in viewpoint or opinion. However, I emphasize that I undertake no obligation to update my articles on Seeking Alpha and the latest article on Seeking Alpha may not reflect my latest thinking. This is why I want to re-emphasize that any article published on Seeking Alpha should be viewed as information only.
What SmithOn Stocks is All About
SmithOnStocks is not registered as a securities broker-dealer or as an investment adviser with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or with any state securities regulatory authority. SOS relies solely on publicly disclosed and available information. While SOS makes all reasonable efforts to confirm the accuracy of its statements and opinions, all comments should be considered only as opinion and should not be considered to be absolute fact. Investors should carefully read the Terms & Conditions and Disclosures sections of my website. Investors should carefully perform their own due diligence, seek other points of view and consult with their broker or financial advisor.
Investing in equities includes considerable risk, and investors should be prepared for the possibility of capital loss. This is particularly the case with biotechnology stocks in which hard to predict clinical and commercial outcomes can often disappoint investors and lead to unusually large declines in price. Potential investors in biotechnology stocks must often be prepared to risk the loss of substantially all of their investment. These stocks are only suitable for investors willing and able to accept unusually high financial risk. Users of my information acknowledge that SOS and its owner are not liable to any person or entity for the accuracy, thoroughness, reliability, or timeliness of the information provided. Users further acknowledge that SOS is also not responsible for any direct or indirect losses that may arise from the use of information provided to any person or entity.
Employees of SmithOnStocks or SOS do buy and sell healthcare stocks, some of which may be the subject of written articles appearing on Seeking Alpha. In the event that employees have a stock investment in a company, that ownership is fully disclosed in notes on Seeking Alpha. On any new recommendation, I have a 48 hour waiting period before initiating a position in a stock. I trade in line with my recommendations.
In 1999 I made an ethical breach that resulted in a suspension from being a registered representative in the securities industry for a period of time. I believe that this measure was harsh beyond any reasonable measure and totally unwarranted. I have gone to great lengths in this report to give my side of the story and I hope that you will read the in-depth account that I have provided. This took place over 16 years ago and has long since ended. There has been no restriction from the NYSE for many years on my working as a registered representative if I choose to go through the required registration procedures.
Still, this NYSE action is like a Scarlett letter that I carry. I would urge you to read the full account of the events that led to this NYSE action and if you do so I believe you will agree that this in no way reflects on my integrity and the way I have always conducted myself, then and now. I strongly believe that the action taken was excessive and I think that if you read my full account you will agree.
People make mistakes. Bill Clinton lied under oath, was impeached and disbarred as a lawyer in Arkansas in connection with the Monica Lewinsky affair. However, society has judged him on the body of work that he has done. Suspensions in the security industry can result from serious infractions in which investors are defrauded or swindled. In the events that led to my suspension no investors lost money and as I explain in this report investors who followed my advice made significant amounts of money. Before you rush to any conclusions, let me tell you my story.
I Am Proud in How I Have Conducted My Career
Before I go into the details of this ethical breach, I want to emphasize that I have had a distinguished career on Wall Street. My record from 1971 when I started on Wall Street until 1999 was unblemished. I came to New York from Indiana with no business connections and no money but through hard work I became a highly regarded Wall Street analyst and was selected to the Institutional Investor All Star team in pharmaceuticals for ten years in a row. Based on my record as being the top or one of the top analysts at Smith Barney, I was selected to be head of research from 1981 until 1989. I also served on the Board of Directors at Smith Barney.
Based on my strong reputation, Hambrecht and Quist approached me in 1989 to head their life sciences research effort and to run the annual H&Q (now JP Morgan) healthcare conference. I was a Managing Director and on the operating committee at H&Q. I left H&Q in the late 1990s because I disliked the bureaucracy that was such an integral part of being head of research. I had made enough money to be financially secure and I wanted to get back into doing what I loved, biotechnology research. I joined Tucker Anthony in 1997 as a biotechnology analyst.
Explaining the Events That Led to the NYSE Issue
Tucker Anthony had a sister firm called Sutro and a decision was made early in 1998 to move health care research from Tucker to Sutro. Tucker was an east coast based firm and Sutro was based in Los Angeles. Sutro leased a New York office to which I moved. It was here that an unfortunate train of events was set in motion that led to the NYSE action that put a stain on what I consider an outstanding career.
When I moved from Tucker to Sutro, I maintained my brokerage accounts at Tucker. I conducted normal trading in this account for some months. Then the research administrative research manager for Sutro contacted me and said that for regulatory purposes I would have to move my account from Tucker to Sutro. After some time spent in looking for a broker to handle my account at Sutro I became frustrated. At that time, I had over $5 million in my brokerage accounts. While I was sophisticated in health care investing which made up 10% of my portfolio, I needed help with other parts of the portfolio. I could find no retail broker at Sutro that I wanted to trust my portfolio to. I asked and received approval to look for a broker outside of Sutro and contacted Schwab about finding an investment advisor there to manage my account.
While this was in process, the research administrative manager at Sutro called again and said that Sutro was probably planning to shut down the New York office and I would have to move to Los Angeles or leave the firm. Moving to Los Angeles was not an option for me as my roots were deep in New York. I informed her that given this choice I would soon be leaving Sutro rather then moving to Los Angeles and began to think about what to do. I came to the preliminary conclusion that I would start a consulting firm dealing in biotechnology. I also concluded that I would have to carefully manage my investment portfolio.
It was here that I made a major mistake that I have regretted ever since. Frustrated that my money was tied up in Tucker and I was unable to trade in my account and unable to find a broker that I trusted, I decided to open an account at Schwab without a broker managing it. I indicated on the account transfer form that I was self-employed based on the assumption that I was going to be leaving Sutro imminently. This was my Bill Clinton moment and turned out to be a major mistake.
I continued to work at Sutro while I was waiting for the New York office to be closed which I thought would be in a matter of days or weeks and during this time, I began to execute trades in my account at Schwab. However, after some weeks the research administrative manager at Sutro called and informed me that based on the response they had gotten from clients and the work that I was doing that the firm had reversed itself and now wanted to keep the office in New York and they were also willing to hire two assistants to aid me. There was also the promise of a significant bonus in the upcoming review that based on my work could amount to several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Not surprisingly, I decided to stay on at Sutro instead of leaving and starting my own firm. I then looked for and finally found a Sutro broker that I could trust to help manage my portfolio. The brokerage accounts at Schwab were opened in February of 1999 and transferred to Sutro in April 1999. When I moved my accounts to Sutro the compliance department at Sutro saw that there was this hiatus when I had an unauthorized account at another firm. This was reported to NYSE.
NYSE Reviewed My Case and Took No Action for Three Years
Management at Sutro looked very closely at what had occurred and decided that while it was certainly not something they could condone, it was a minor infraction and they thought that given my stellar and unblemished record that NYSE would not take any meaningful action other than a wrist slap. Sutro decided to be pre-emptive in administering the wrist slap and fined me and suspended me for one month. They thought that this would satisfy NYSE based on their interpretation of what had occurred. They wanted me to continue with the firm, paid the sizable bonus I was due and committed to picki up all legal fees.
I then had a deposition with a lawyer from NYSE in early 2000. During a one day interview, he went over all of the details of the accounts that were held at Schwab and all of the trades that occurred in detail. He also looked at all of the reports that I had issued as an analyst during this time to compare to the trading in my account to the issuance of research reports. I then heard nothing more from the NYSE for three years.
Sutro concluded as did I that this issue was behind us. Three years later in mid-2003, I heard from NYSE to my shock that they were re-opening the case. Why after three years was the case being re-opened? In talking to the lawyers at NYSE, I came to understand that this was the result of Elliott Spitzer’s attack on Wall Street research. Remember the famous case of Henry Blodgett who recommended stocks of investment banking clients to clients that he thought were actually sales.
NYSE enforcement was under pressure because this unethical practice had been brought to light by Spitzer and they had missed it. They were under pressure to show how tough they could be as enforcers. They reviewed their records and came up with my case which they decided to reopen it in order to show that they were aggressive enforcers.
They went over the same information that had been gathered in early 2000, but came up with an entirely different interpretation. They said that I effected stock transactions shortly before issuance of research reports which I had prepared and this was a violation of Exchange Rule 472.40(2) (iii). They also said that I failed to disclose that I held securities in stocks recommended in a research report. They said that I opened accounts at a member firm that concealed fact of my employment at another member firm; violated Exchange Rule 407(b). They recommended a censure and two and one-half year suspension.
Two Stock Trades at Question
The information on opening an account at another firm is something that I just discussed at length. This was not in dispute. However, NYSE focused on two stock trades that I made and explained the suspension largely on the basis of these two trades. I believe that they were clearly wrong in their conclusions. Let me discuss those trades in detail.
The first trade was in Stericycle, a medical waste disposal company. I had been following the company for some time with a neutral rating. In my reports, I noted that the Company wanted to buy the medical waste disposal business of Waste Management and if they were successful, I would immediately go to a strong buy.
This acquisition was announced on April 14, 2009 after the close at 4 PM EST. Because it was 1 PM in Los Angeles I held a conference call with Sutro’s traders and the salesforce and told them I was going to a strong buy on the stock. It was the practice of Sutro to initiate new ideas with a conference call in this manner. The traders and sales force would then go out to the clients with the idea. After this, the analyst would follow-up by publishing a note on First Call (an electronic distribution network) and this was done on April 15 This was then followed up by a written research report on April 16. On April 16, I bought 2500 shares of the stock at a price of $12. This was accepted practice at Sutro for research analysts buying stocks that they recommended. There was no requirement to wait for a period of time to buy the stock. The analyst was allowed to buy the stock at the same time as other Sutro employees and clients
The NYSE judged my conduct on standards that were different from those that were accepted practices at Sutro. By today’s standards, the Sutro practices seem very loose but they were common at the time. This is why Sutro did not view this trade as a breach of conduct and kept me as an analyst. The NYSE also said that I did not disclose that I owned Stericycle in my written report. However, none of the analysts at Sutro were required at the time to do so. This was also standard operating procedure.
Stericycle was a major success for investors. Adjusting for stock splits the stock traded at about $3.00 when I first recommended it. Fifteen years later, the stock is trading at about $119. This was one of my best recommendations ever. I held the Stericycle stock for many years and only sold it recently.
The NYSE did not accept that my actions were in line with the practices of Sutro even though I produced a letter to that effect from the research administrative officer. I also argued that a $30,000 investment in a portfolio that amounted to $5 million at the time was de minimus. I argued that the stock was bought and maintained as a long term investment. I argued that it was an excellent money making idea for investors. The NYSE dismissed all of these arguments and maintained that I traded ahead of my recommendation.
The second trade that the NYSE emphasized was a trade in Schering Plough. On April 18, the stock had traded down by 5%. I had an accumulate rating on the stock essentially telling investors to buy the stock for the long term, but connoting less emphasis than a buy. In the morning call to traders and salesmen, I alerted them to the price weakness, but told them there was no change in the fundamental outlook and there was no change in my price target. I was not intending to issue a report, but the research administrative manager told me that the price drop in Schering Plough based on my price target indicated 25% upside that was the accepted criteria for a buy recommendation. Hence, I needed to put out a report in which I upgraded my opinion from accumulate to buy.
I bought the stock on April 20 at the same time as the written report was issued. I previously owned 500 shares and this increased my position to 1000 shares for a total investment of about $35,000 which again was within a $5 million portfolio. The NYSE again accused me of the same things as in the Stericycle situation. They said that I traded ahead of my recommendation and did not disclose that I owned the stock. My responses were the same as for Stericycle and were once again rejected.
Was The NYSE Action Justified?
I think that the NYSE action was out of all proportion to what actually transpired. I think the enforcement officers applied new standards in overturning the prior decision to take no action on this case that had been in effect for three years. They were under pressure to make a big splash in the Elliot Spitzer era to show how tough they were. My recommendations were solid recommendations and indeed the Stericycle recommendation was outstanding.
I fully recognize that my decision to open the brokerage account at Schwab prior to resigning from Sutro was an ethical breach on my part even if I was planning to resign from Sutro. When I decided to stay with Sutro, I transferred my accounts immediately. I strongly and absolutely maintain that my trading in Schering-Plough and Stericycle was in accordance with policies in place at Sutro at the time. By today’s standards these seem loose, but this was common industry practice at the time.
The NYSE review was conducted by a mediator and it was he that determined the punishment. He had spent his entire career as an enforcement officer for the NYSE. He was also friends with the NYSE lawyers on my case and sent out to lunch with them during the hearing. He was the judge, jury and executioner of my fate. As I look back, I question his objectivity and motives. In writing his opinion, he did not acknowledge documents from Sutro that showed that my stock trading disclosures were in-line with their internal procedures. I had no opportunity to review or correct his opinion in the opinion he wrote. In a country in which, guilt or innocence is established by one’s peers, mine was determined by a hanging judge with no experience in the securities business and an apparent pre-determined view on my actions.