My investing activities began with index funds when I was about thirteen. At the age of eighteen, I began investing in individual companies. Since I was always interested in science and technology, I started my focus in tech and biologically focused companies. Currently, I have over three years of experience with investing in individual stocks (primarily in biotech, med-tech, and pharmaceuticals). I focus primarily on small to mid cap companies that exhibit strong revenue growth and/or innovative clinical developments. I am currently an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, with aspirations of getting an MBA in Finance.
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At Valuentum, we think the best opportunities arise from a complete understanding of all investing disciplines in order to identify the most attractive stocks at any given time. Valuentum therefore analyzes each stock across a wide spectrum of philosophies, from deep value through momentum investing. We think companies that are attractive from a number of investment perspectives--whether it be growth, value, momentum, etc.--have the greatest probability of capital appreciation and relative outperformance. The more investors that are interested in the stock for reasons based on their respective investment mandates, the more likely it will move higher.
Brian Nelson is the President of Equity Research at Valuentum Securities, an investment research firm serving individual and institutional investors, as well as financial advisors. Before founding Valuentum, Mr. Nelson worked as a director at Morningstar, where he was responsible for training and methodology development within the firm's equity and credit research department. Prior to that position, he served as a senior industrials securities analyst, covering aerospace, airlines, construction and environmental services companies. Before joining Morningstar in February 2006, Mr. Nelson worked for a small capitalization fund covering a variety of sectors for an aggressive growth investment management firm in Chicago. He holds a Bachelor's degree in finance and a minor in mathematics, magna cum laude, from Benedictine University. Mr. Nelson has an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
Get to Know Brian:
Brian led the charge in developing Morningstar's issuer credit ratings, developing and rolling-out one of the firm's proprietary credit metrics, the Cash Flow Cushion. http://select.morningstar.com/welcome/credit/pdfs/Morningstar_CashFlowCushion.pdf
Brian is frequently quoted in the media and has been a frequent guest on Nightly Business Report, Bloomberg TV, and the Money Show.
Mr. Nelson is very experienced in valuing equities, developing Morningstar's discounted cash-flow model used to derive the fair value estimates for the company's entire equity coverage universe.
Brian worked on a small cap fund and a micro cap fund that were ranked within the top 10th percentile and top 1st percentile within the Small Cap Lipper Growth Universe, respectively, in 2005.
Mr. Nelson is also a contributor to Seeking Alpha and an opinion leader in the Industrial Goods space.
You can reach Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please read our Disclaimer that applies to all articles published on Seeking Alpha: http://www.valuentum.com/categories/20110613
Follow us on Twitter: @Valuentum
The purpose of my writing is to:
1. create a portfolio of my investment research
2. provide readers with helpful equity analysis and unique investment ideas
3. improve my process through your comments and feedback
My investing interests started while I was a college undergrad. While I was not a business major, I had the opportunity to start investing through mutual funds. This was in November in 2007, and within a few years, there were some tough losses (as did most of America.) Like many investors, I acted irrationally, and violated the fundamental rule by “selling low.” After school, I served in the military for a few years, and I am now pursuing my MBA with a focus on investment management (motivated by my passion for investing, natural curiosity, desire to conduct research.) My first investing experience has stuck with me, and it has driven my investing style:
1. Invest in companies you that you understand
2. Invest for the long term
3. Conduct top-down and bottom-up research
4. As Warren Buffett once said, “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful”
I hope you find my posts helpful, and I certainly welcome your feedback!
Whitney Tilson is the founder and Managing Partner of Kase Capital Management, which manages three value-oriented hedge funds. Mr. Tilson is also the co-founder of Value Investor Insight, an investment newsletter.
Mr. Tilson has co-authored two books, The Art of Value Investing: How the World's Best Investors Beat the Market (2013) and More Mortgage Meltdown: 6 Ways to Profit in These Bad Times (2009), was one of the authors of Poor Charlie’s Almanack, the definitive book on Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, and has written for Forbes, the Financial Times, Kiplinger’s, the Motley Fool and TheStreet.com. He was featured in two 60 Minutes segments in December 2008 about the housing crisis (which won an Emmy) and in March 2015 about Lumber Liquidators. He served for two years on the Board of Directors of Cutter & Buck, which designs and markets upscale sportswear, until the company was sold in early 2007.
Mr. Tilson received an MBA with High Distinction from the Harvard Business School, where he was elected a Baker Scholar (top 5% of class), and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, with a bachelor’s degree in Government.
Mr. Tilson spent much of his childhood in Tanzania and Nicaragua (his parents are both educators, were among the first couples to meet and marry in the Peace Corps, and have retired in Kenya). Consequently, Mr. Tilson is involved with a number of charities focused on education reform and Africa. For his philanthropic work, he received the 2008 John C. Whitehead Social Enterprise Award from the Harvard Business School Club of Greater New York. He is a member and past Chairman of the Manhattan chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization. Mr. Tilson lives in Manhattan with his wife and three teenage daughters.
Being an Austrian petroleum engineering student, I have always had a strong fascination for the stock market. I bought my first stocks about 5 years ago. My main interests are European stocks, but I am continuously broadening my horizon.
Eric Parnell, CFA, is the Founder and Director of Gerring Capital Partners. Gerring Capital is a registered investment advisory firm seeking attractive returns opportunities emphasizing value, quality and risk control. Eric also publishes The Universal premium service on Seeking Alpha targeting winning strategies in bear and bull markets across the asset class universe. Gerring Capital implements these strategies for its investors and then Eric discusses them on The Universal. Eric is also a Visiting Instructor at Ursinus College in the Department of Business and Economics. Prior to founding Gerring in 2005, Eric was the Director of Investment Communications at SEI Investments and an Economist at Moody’s Analytics.
I am Seeking Alpha's CEO and Editor-in-Chief. My love for the stock markets goes back to when I was a kid. Who else remembers combing through the stock quotes at the back of the business section of your local paper?
I joined Seeking Alpha in 2006 and launched Wall Street Breakfast and Market Currents, our top-of-class short-form breaking news for investors. In 2010 I became editor-in-chief and in 2015 I became CEO.
I live in Jerusalem with my wife and a bunch of exceptional kids. Most days, you'll find me making the commute from Jerusalem to Raanana. Occasionally I get to work from my home-office, from where I keep an eye on the beautiful Judean Hills.
To contact me, send me a direct message, or email me at email@example.com.
At Bio Vantage, our mission is to provide high-quality equity reports focused primarily on biotech and pharmaceutical companies worldwide. In our view, fundamental analysis of biopharmaceutical companies requires expertise in evaluating clinical trial data and drug pipelines, as these events often drive the underlying equity value of such companies going forward. Equally important is the ability to forecast future revenues, earnings growth, and cash flows using financial modeling tools in order to derive an intrinsic value for the company being analyzed. Once a fundamental value is derived, investors can make profits from a variety of trading instruments.
While our expertise largely concerns biotech and pharmaceutical companies, our investment principles are centered on diversification, asset allocation, risk management, and portfolio strategies. Thus, our investments and analyses also cover other sectors, including technology, financials, consumer products, energy, and commodities.
Bio Vantage's analysts have extensive experience in the biomedical field and in drug discovery research. We are lifelong investors. One of the analysts holds the CFA charter designation.
Over 30 years of investing in individual stocks. Extensive business experience with small to mid-size companies, including as CEO. Many hundreds of blog posts on financial and economic matters since 2008. Focus on value with catalysts for upside price action. Background as a physician and pharmaceutical inventor and entrepreneur, however focus now is global and involves almost all economic categories.
Please note that I do not read comments posted here, nor respond to messages here. I don't have the time. If you want my attention, you must seek it directly at my blog.
David J. Merkel, CFA — From 2003-2007, I was a leading commentator at the excellent investment website RealMoney.com (http://www.RealMoney.com). Back in 2003, after several years of correspondence, James Cramer invited me to write for the site, and now I write for RealMoney on equity and bond portfolio management, macroeconomics, derivatives, quantitative strategies, insurance issues, corporate governance, etc. My specialty is looking at the interlinkages in the markets in order to understand individual markets better.
I no longer contribute to RealMoney because my work duties have gotten larger, and I began this blog to develop a distinct voice with a wider distribution.
In 2008, I became the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities (http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=109&STORY=/www/story/02-08-2008/0004752449&EDATE=). Finacorp went into liquidation in June 2010, after which I decided to open my own asset management shop, Aleph Investments, LLC. I manage stock and bond portfolios for clients.
Until 2007, I was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. I also managed the internal profit sharing and charitable endowment monies of the firm.
Prior to joining Hovde in 2003, I managed corporate bonds for Dwight Asset Management. In 1998, I joined the Mount Washington Investment Group as the Mortgage Bond and Asset Liability manager after working with Provident Mutual, AIG and Pacific Standard Life.
My background as a life actuary has given me a different perspective on investing. How do you earn money without taking undue risk? How do you convey ideas about investing while showing a proper level of uncertainty on the likelihood of success? How do the various markets fit together, telling us us a broader story than any single piece? These are the themes that I will deal with in this blog. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University.
In my spare time, I take care of our eight children with my wonderful wife Ruth. Visit this site: The Aleph Blog (http://alephblog.com/)
Russ Koesterich, CFA, JD, Managing Director and head of Asset Allocation, is a member of the Global Allocation team within BlackRock's Multi-Asset Strategies Group. He serves as a member of BlackRock's Americas Executive Committee.
Mr. Koesterich's service with the firm dates back to 2005, including his years with Barclays Global Investors (BGI), which merged with BlackRock in 2009. Prior to his current role, Mr. Koesterich was BlackRock's Global Chief Investment Strategist and Chairman of the Investment Committee for the Model Portfolio Solutions business. Previously, he served as the Global Head of Investment Strategy for scientific active equities and as senior portfolio manager in the US Market Neutral Group. Prior to joining BGI, Mr. Koesterich was the Chief North American Strategist at State Street Bank and Trust. He began his investment career at Instinet Research Partners where he occupied several positions in research, including Director of Investment Strategy for both U.S. and European research, and Equity Analyst. He is a frequent contributor to financials news media and the author of two books, including his most recent "The Ten Trillion Dollar Gamble."
Mr. Koesterich earned a BA in history from Brandeis University, a JD from Boston College and an MBA from Columbia University. He is a CFA Charterholder.
James A. Kostohryz has accumulated over twenty years of experience investing and trading virtually every asset class across the globe.
Kostohryz started his investment career as an analyst at one of the US's largest asset management firms covering sectors as diverse as emerging markets, banking, energy, construction, real estate, metals and mining. Later, Kostohryz became Chief Global Strategist and Head of International Investments for a major investment bank. Kostohryz currently manages his own investment firm, specializing in proprietary trading and institutional portfolio management advisory.
Born in Mexico, Kostohryz grew up between south Texas and Colombia, has lived and worked in nine different countries, and has traveled extensively in more than 50 others. Kostohryz actively pursues various intellectual interests and is currently writing a book about the impact of culture on economic development. He is a former NCAA and world-class decathlete and has stayed active in a variety of sports.
Kostohryz graduated with honors from both Stanford University and Harvard Law School.
You can receive custom delivery of all of Mr. Kostohryz's published work on Seeking Alpha, The Street, and other media, as well as exclusive material, by following the link below. It is absolutely free:
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Steven currently focuses his analyses primarily on the valuation of smaller biotechs (100MM to 1 BB market cap) and utilizes all sources of information, including conversations with management, peer-reviewed publications, SEC filings, and all available primary and secondary research.
Steven is currently a consultant for a New York based life science focused consultancy, and brings a strong scientific and financial background to his current position.
Previously, Steven earned a Ph.D. from the Scripps Research Institute and an M.A. from Columbia University, with extensive work in the field of synthetic and medicinal chemistry, publishing several papers in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. He is also pursuing the CFA designation, and has completed exam level 2.
Please email me with any questions, comments, and investment ideas. (stevenb29 at gmail.com)
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.
I am a lawyer and assistant professor living in New York. My work focuses on the intersection of energy policy and the economic feasibility of energy pathways. In addition to Seeking Alpha, my articles on renewable energy have been published by media sites including US News & World Report, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, and IFL Science. From a financial perspective I cover a variety of energy companies ranging from renewable energy to fossil fuels. While I discuss legal issues relating to these companies on occasion, my articles do not provide legal advice and nothing that I write on Seeking Alpha should be considered as such.
Bay Area Biotech is a group of self-organized life science graduate/medical/business students and postdoctoral scholars who are interested in utilizing our scientific training to evaluate biotechnologies and identify investment opportunities. Opinions published here are those of the authors.
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.
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Ron Sommer was a chief financial officer at an institution of higher education in New York City. He has 40 years of financial management experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Sommer has also been a private investor for more than 30 years. He uses a ruled-based quantitative model.