We are an investment consulting firm that provides investment advice and research on small cap stocks to hedge funds and high net worth individuals.
A lasting reputation and trust with our subscribers are important to us. You can view our strong track record and past research at whitediamondresearch.com.
Product manager and strategist.
Formerly at Seeking Alpha, where I worked on product design for integration with third party websites, retail and professional investing and trading platforms, and media companies.
Prior to that, headed up product for Seeking Alpha's comment and community features, and managed the moderation team and Seeking Alpha's customer service department.
Interested in macroeconomic trends, tech stocks and how technology is shaping culture, art and society.
I'm an investor focused on IP situations, and have invested in the market for countless years. Past employment has been in the investment banking, venture capital, and hedge fund spaces. I currently work in corporate development and invest my excess capital in my spare time.
Stone Fox Capital Advisors is a registered investment advisor founded in 2010. The firm offers portfolio management with a focus on opportunistic stocks providing secular growth trends at an affordable value. An emphasis is placed on fundamental analysis though charts are used for timing entry and exit points.
Mark Holder graduated from the University of Tulsa with a double major in accounting & finance. He's been interested in the stock market since college and began managing investments for friends and family more than 20 years ago. Mark has his Series 65 and is also a CPA.
Invest with Stone Fox Capital's model portfolios on Covestor.com as he makes real time trades. Covestor also allows followers to duplicate the model portfolio in their own brokerage accounts. You can find the portfolio and more details here:
Follow Mark on twitter: @stonefoxcapital
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I hold multiple undergraduate degrees with concentrated focus in the fields of Psychology, Sociology, History, and Economics. Prior to working as an independent strategist for a handful of clients, I was employed as a behavioral economist for a private London based group. Before that, I worked for domestic entities such as FBR and ACC Capital.
In terms of equities analysis, my focus is strictly on long term investments, emerging biotechnology entities, distressed or undervalued companies, and maritime commerce. In terms of market analysis, my focus is on the market implications of social and non-traditional factors. I do not discredit more traditional technical and fundamental analysis, but I value greatly the largely underrated, and often forgotten, historical evolution of capitalism and capital market psychology. Thus, some articles I write will be highly speculative and unorthodox, and will likely represent a minority opinion. Others, when undervaluation is a motivating factor for the article having been written, will be highly technical and metric based.
Also, I urge readers to consider the premise of investment horizon, and authorship intention, when reading my contributions. Many of the articles for companies which I endorse will be deemed "long term", which I generally consider to be no less than 2-3 years unless otherwise noted. Moreover, some articles are written simply to test a potential investment thesis in an effort to garner feedback about prospective positions. In the latter, the "Risk" segment of articles will be thoroughly detailed and should be heavily weighed. Many such pieces will be long "ideas", not necessarily long "recommendations" or "endorsements", and it is imperative that readers understand that prior to any assumptions being made or conclusions being drawn. Thus, I would implore readers to consider my articles carefully and thoroughly, and to ask any questions they may have pertaining to publication purpose if not otherwise clearly defined. I will always do my best to respond in a timely fashion.
Lastly, I am a fervent proponent of the value brought to investments by behavioral finance theory, and I utilize this premise in all equities analysis.
Anonymity Disclosure: I am fully cognizant of the fact that some readers question the integrity and/or accountability of anonymous contributors. Please know that my preference for privacy is a two fold consideration; (1) I remain under a revolving open contract to consult for an entity where I signed a lifetime NCND agreement. In order not to risk violating any potential terms of that agreement, now or in the future, I maintain a very low web based profile. (2) I am a proponent of unbiased analysis being openly shared among prospective investors. However, in order to ensure no collisions occur between professional patronage and personal privacy, I have elected to utilize anonymity as the barrier between the two.
It is very hard or impossible to time the broad market consistently — there are no famous investors that got rich by consistently knowing what the broad market would do next. This only makes sense, as there are just too many variables in the broad market. But there are many famous investors who got rich analyzing individual securities, and this is where you should put your focus. You can get an edge in individual securities. Joe Springer was the number 1 ranked stock analyst in the world by tipranks.com, and on most days is still ranked in the top 5%. Joe is a Certified Technical Trainer, and enjoys teaching about the stock market as well as managing portfolios. If you would like to follow Joe on Twitter, his handle is @JoeSpringer.
Active investor and trader since my teens. I retired early from my career in healthcare administration and have been a full time investor for 5 years.
I write about 3D Printing Stocks on my site @ 3DPrintingStocks.com, as well as small and microcap stocks (no pinks or junk!) at MicrocapResearch.com
I am a small-time writer/blogger who dreams big and enjoys researching and writing about biotechs and pharmaceuticals. My work experiences include food safety, water quality, pesticides, food additives, paints, plastics and pharmaceutical precursors. My focus as of late has been researching the treatment options for many cancers and prevention of their recurrence. Additional recent research has been in the stem cell field, an exciting field in its infancy but now becoming a teenager! My ongoing goal for investors is attempting to find under-the-radar or oversold pharmaceuticals or biotechs for investment potential.
I have traveled through the abyss of Chinese reverse mergers and lived to tell about it. Primarily trade small caps: bio-pharma, commodity related, low float value, and US listed Chinese stocks.
Markman Advisors specializes in the strategic analysis of investment opportunities presented by intellectual property—and in particular, patent—litigation activities. We are all USPTO-registered patent attorneys with decades of combined experience in patent litigation, licensing and procurement. After many years practicing at some of the world’s largest and well-known law firms, we established and now run a premier intellectual-property boutique law firm, where we continue to practice patent litigation.
We have litigated numerous high-stakes patent cases in federal district courts throughout the country, as well as at the appellate level before the Federal Circuit. We are also experienced in USPTO proceedings, and have advised clients across a wide swath of technical areas with respect to patent-related matters.
Our base of former and current legal clients is diverse, from technology start-ups to some of the world’s largest and most well-known corporations. Collectively, we have led those clients through numerous Markman hearings, summary judgment motions, trials and appeals – on both the offensive and defensive sides of a case.
Our patent litigation experience, coupled with our knowledge of the market for "patent play" stocks, is the alpha we bring to each patent litigation-driven investment opportunity.
Individual investor for 30 years, now Full-Time. MD degree. Trade daily. Long stocks only, and call options, mainly LEAPs, which I consider to be long term investments. I am a patient investor. My core is biopharma, with a few biotechs: Together, these comprise about 75% of my portfolio, and include some large core biopharmas, as well as aggressive emerging biopharmas, which I call my "Baby Bios." Of these, DEPO has sprouted wings. Others have been active of late. There is also eclectic diversification, with some retail, clothing, tech, software.. I trade daily, and look for newly listed options. [Please note that there is no check box for "Healthcare" in the "Your Interests" section].
Author of the value investing newsletter detailing the formation of the "Punch Card Portfolio" (http://valueinvestorcanada.blogspot.com/). Devon Shire is an accountant and an investor with 15 years experience managing a private portfolio. Devon Shire's preferred portfolio management style is a concentrated approach, investing only when finding opportunities that offer a sufficient discount to the intrinsic value of a business. Devon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Altucher was the managing director of Formula Capital, an asset management firm and fund of hedge funds. He's written five books on investing: Trade Like a Hedge Fund, Trade Like Warren Buffett, SuperCash, The Forever Portfolio, and his latest book, The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth. He currently writes at Jamesaltucher.com and has released a newsletter, The Altucher Report.
Mr. Altucher is the founder of Stockpickr.com, a social network for finance that had millions of unique visitors per month when it was sold to TheStreet.com in 2007. He has written over 200 columns for The Financial Times and has written for TheStreet.com, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Fidelity.com, and other publications. He was also the founder of a web services firm, Reset Inc, which he sold in 1998, at which time he became a partner at VC firm, 212 Ventures/Investcorp. Mr. Altucher regularly appears on CNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, and CNN Radio, and is also in his spare time a nationally ranked chess master. Mr. Altucher received his BA at Cornell University and attended graduate school for computer science at Carnegie Mellon University.
You can follow him on twitter @jaltucher.
I am part of a small investment group that combines significant business experience in product marketing and communications with legal analysis and interpretation. My partners and I combine for over 50 years of experience in these fields.
Beacon VP is a multidisciplinary team of Harvard/MIT scientists who are passionate about transforming scientific insights into actionable investment ideas.
Beacon VP invests in the scientific foundation of biotech firms, with a focus on drugs and devices progressing through the FDA review process.
Our philosophy is: "The business value of small to mid-cap life science companies depends on the underlying science of its drugs. We assess its safety and efficacy, then buy low and sell high".
PropThink is an intelligence service that delivers long and short trading ideas to investors in the healthcare and life sciences sectors. Our Editorial Team is comprised of individuals with a strong background in science, medicine and the business of successfully commercializing therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics and healthcare services. Our ultimate objective is to leverage the knowledge, experience, and relationships of our contributors to introduce our subscribers to profitable long and short investment opportunities in the healthcare sector.
Successfully trading, and investing in emerging growth healthcare companies is a difficult task. Over 90% of drugs never make it out of the clinic. Huge capital requirements along the way result in highly dilutive equity financings often done on the backs of retail investors. At PropThink, we believe that due diligence is the key to success in this industry. We leverage a combined 50 years of experience in science, medicine, legal, regulatory affairs, finance, and operational industry experience to analyze companies at a highly technical level. This detailed analysis and due diligence process defines our editorial strategy and provides our subscribers a high level of confidence in our research. Our focus is on identifying and analyzing technically-complicated companies and equities that are grossly over or under-valued.
Visit PropThink.com to see all of our coverage and research, and subscribe to our free newsletter to receive reports, articles, and trading alerts.
The Life Sciences Report features leading investment coverage of the life sciences sector, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, tools & diagnostics, and medical devices. A Streetwise Reports publication. www.TheLifeSciencesReport.com
I am an independent equity research analyst and consultant. I focus on finding small-cap biotech stocks where I believe there is favorable risk / reward because of misinformation, lack of information, or a potential fundamental turnaround. I provide detail analysis for investors and investor relations companies. I also provide due diligence and advisory services to companies. Some names I write on I invest in personally and will disclose my position. Names that have hired me to provide due diligence or advisory services I will disclose a business relationship. I previously worked for Zacks Investment Research from 2003 to 2015 as a Senior Biotechnology Analyst. Prior to Zacks, I spent 1999 to 2002 managing money with Eastover Capital in Charlotte, NC where I focused on large-cap equities, specializing in healthcare, energy, and technology. Prior to joining Eastover, I worked as a research scientist for TechLab, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on developing diagnostic kits and vaccines for infectious diseases, between 1995 and 1998. I also spent a year working at the Fralin Biotechnology Center, and a year working for a cancer researcher while at Virginia Tech. I have a B.S. in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech, with a B.A in Chemistry and a minor in Math. I have a M.B.A. in Finance, with a concentration in Securities Analysis, from Wake Forest University. I hold the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
I began my professional career as a capital markets lawyer at the New York firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. In 2010, I returned to Notre Dame (’05 undergrad) for my MBA and graduated ('12) with an Investments concentration. I currently work as an equity analyst for an asset manager.
Please feel free to connect with me here or elsewhere--my linkedin profile is below:
TechCrunch (http://www.techcrunch.com/), founded on June 11, 2005, is a weblog dedicated to obsessively profiling and reviewing new Internet products and companies. In addition to covering new companies, we profile existing companies that are making an impact (commercial and/or cultural) on the new web space. TechCrunch is co-edited by Michael Arrington and Erick Schonfeld.
StockMatusow.com Writers are:
Scott Matusow; Team Leader, owner and founder of StockMatusow.com.
Scott is an independent investor/writer/trader and team leader of StockMatusow.com.
He has have about fifteen years of stock market experience which include trading, investing, and managing his family’s trust as well as his personal account.
Scott has had the most success in trading/investing in smaller cap growth companies. Because Scott is not 'officially trained' in the markets, he see things 'outside the box.' Scott uses his ability to read situations and emotion, charts, times and sales, historical data, and macroeconomic and other market forces to predict stock price movements. Using these allowed for him to completely divest his own and family's money near the top of the market before the 2008 financial crisis.
Scott has his own online talk show which can be heard at www.scottmatusow.com/radio .
During market hours, we engage in talk about Stocks and Politics. After hours, Scott engages in a variety of talk issues from Poker, Sports, Politics, Current Events and whatever the chat room people wish to talk about.
Other places you can follow Scott are:
Kyle Dennis; writer, analyst, trader, website design, and team member of Stockmatusow.com.
Kyle has a Biology degree from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and specializes in trading the biotechnology sector.
Kyle has extensive experience in researching, writing, and editing articles that have been published in scientific journals. He uses these experiences to write and comment about the potential of various biotechnology companies. Kyle specializes in evaluating trial success, drug potential, and market valuations.
As an investor/trader, Kyle likes to focus on chart analysis and investor/trader sentiment to identify good entry and exit points.
Kyle can also be followed at www.twitter.com/kylewdennis @kylewdennis
Michael Kovar; writer, editor, investor, trader and team member of stockmatusow.com
Michael has spent over ten years in financial roles with companies large and small. Recently, he spent time in a consulting role with Thomson Reuters legal headquarters in Eagan, MN. He currently works in an analyst position with a healthcare organization. Since 2011, Michael has worked with Scott Matusow to help research and edit articles for Stockmatusow.com.
Michael can be followed at www.twitter.com/MMK_3399 @MMK_3399
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).
Author of the critically acclaimed book, "Taking Charge With Value Investing (McGraw-Hill, 2013)" and the premium subscription service "Tipping The Scale" (as seen below). An analyst that ranks in the top 4% on both tipranks.com and Motley Fool CAPS for stock picking performance.
Tipping the Scale members gain access to the TTS Portfolio Tracker. Here, members see what I am buying and selling the minute it happens, along with what I have owned, bought, and sold historically. These are just a few of the features on the TTS Portfolio Tracker.
Tipping The Scale is an equity research platform that uses a numeric scale instead of the traditional "Buy, Hold, Sell" to identify the best investment opportunities in the market. Stock coverage is determined by market catalyst, and every company goes through a vigorous test in 10 different categories. The higher the total score, the bigger the upside. In addition, Tipping the Scale also provides a number of portfolio strategies to hedge the volatility of the market and protect from downside.
Check out my instablog for more information on the popular research service Tipping the Scale, including performance information, benefits, and how it all works.
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.
Ian Bezek worked for 3 years as an analyst at a New York-based hedge fund. He's currently living in Mexico, pursuing some entrepreneurial opportunities.
Feel free to contact him regarding investments, writing, or speaking opportunities.
Jiang is not a value investor nor a growth investor. He believes that it does not matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.
Jiang has a BSc in Management from Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and an MBA from Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto.
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Atticvs (a pseudonym), has been an active stock market investor since 1980. For the past 10 years he has been managing portfolios full-time for himself as well as for family and a small group of friends. His investment returns have been substantially higher than the overall market averages. He is a strong advocate of fundamental analysis and discounted valuations allied to a clear understanding of current and future economic/business trends and stock market drivers. During a period of 25 years prior to managing investments full-time, he held senior finance, funding and mergers & acquisitions positions with NYSE, Nasdaq and private companies with operations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, as well as in the USA and spent extensive time working and/or living in each of these regions.