Long time biotech and tech investor who enjoys discussing stocks, options, and sharing ideas freely.
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Spent my entire 28 year career on Wall Street with over a decade at Bear Stearns. No "Wall Street Titan" in real life but WST is an alias that I've used for years on Yahoo so I use it when I write on SA. I have gained a significant amount of knowledge regarding the stem cell sector over the years and have recently launched a premium service covering this exciting area.
I am an analyst and 2017 Level III Candidate in the CFA Program that has gained experience in the investment industry through positions as a proprietary trader and a portfolio management administrator. I began contributing to Seeking Alpha as a way to share my thoughts on the biopharmaceutical industry. I discussed ways to minimize risk in biopharmaceutical investing through conservative pipeline valuation and balance sheet analysis to identify companies presenting a compelling valuation to potential investors. I also touched on ways to apply knowledge of the markets to improve personal finance. My pieces included either stock-specific analysis or general biopharmaceutical investing discussion through my Biotech Weekly blog. My research appeared on the websites of CNBC, Seeking Alpha, Reuters, Google Finance, Morningstar, NASDAQ, and MarketWatch.
Note: Articles and comments are my own opinions, are not related to the opinions of my employer, and should not be considered investment advice. Make sure to do your own due diligence before making an investment decision. Thanks!
Founder, CEO and managing director of Vailshire Capital Management, LLC, in Colorado Springs. Managing director of Vailshire Partners, LP: a healthcare and technology-focused low fee hedge fund. Transitioned in 2015 from full- to part-time medicine as a Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologist in Colorado Springs, CO. Currently a full-time investment professional, managing the flagship hedge fund and separately-managed accounts via Vailshire Capital Management. For inquiries, please use my personal email: email@example.com
I am an Senior Biotech Analyst with Zacks Investment Research, Inc. I joined Zacks in February 2014.
Prior to joining Zacks, I was an NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow working in a cancer genetics laboratory.
I received my PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I also have my BS and MS in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech.
We try to provide unbiased, balanced and helpful insight into long-term prospects of the businesses we follow. We mainly base our analysis on the fundamentals and assess the long-term growth potential of the companies. In addition, we also analyze the dividend stability of different companies, and try to assess the future cash flows in order to gauge dividend growth potential.
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John Eastman is a writer, mixed media artist, and founder of several businesses (www.redfishcreative.com) (www.eastmantribe.com)with over 25 years of hands-on business and entrepreneurial experience. He currently works and resides in a studio loft in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and NYC. Mr. Eastman has exhibited and read in various galleries and exhibits in the region as an artist and writer.
Mr. Eastman is the co-founder of www.smallcapcity.com, an online publication that focuses on small capitalized public firms, founder of www.blackandwhiteprogram.com, an online publication offering interviews, essays, and reports. He also writes for www.thechairmansblog.com, www.smallcapcity.com, Motley Fool, and several other online and print publications.
Mr. Eastman’s business background commenced in 1985 with the launch of a series of high tech, real estate, and design firms. He has extensive experience in banking and loan servicing, real estate property management and asset management, asset appraisal and valuation, Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) and FDIC bank closure proceedings.
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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.
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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.
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Not a high-falutin' Pee Aich Dee economist.
Just a lowly physician tryin' to make sense of these Interesting Times.
"The State is the great fiction through which everyone endeavours to live at the expense of everyone else." Frederic Bastiat, 1848
I am but a bemused and conjurepated skeptic in a world of majestic deceptions.
Mike Havrilla is a former pharmacist (retail and home infusion settings), biotech stock trader, and writer with experience that includes full-time online trading since 2009, working as a full-time pharmacist from 2004-2009, and writing for investors since 2007. Mike holds Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) and Bachelor of Science (Biology) degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for Wyeth prior to pharmacy school. He is also an avid runner and has completed over 20 marathons with a personal best time under three hours for the 26.2 mile race and under 80 minutes for the half marathon. Mike merged his former publishing business with BioRunUp.com / Mark Messier in October 2010, creating a new online biotech stock research and trading subscription service.
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David Pope, CFA, currently serves as the Managing Director of Quantitative Research at S&P Capital IQ.
Formerly David was a portfolio manager and quantitative analyst at Wellington Management Company and Colonial Management Company.
David is also an Adjunct Professor of Finance at Bentley University and is a CFA Charterholder.
I hold BS degrees in Biology and Environmental Policy in addition to an M.Ed in Science Education. I have experience as a researcher in the biotech sector. Currently, I teach Biology courses as well as publish articles and research in the fields of science, education and public policy.
At Investment Underground, our editors are disciplined, independent journalists who dig into technology, commodities, and stock market news to break the stories that matter. Our active approach to journalism spans analysis and interviews with noteworthy leaders to uncover real news that affects business right now.
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Marco is a trader of stocks, options, currencies, and futures. He has been fascinated with the financial markets ever since he bought his first stock at 11 years old. Marco entered the business world at the age of 13, with the creation of an extremely successful retail website (GoldenAgeCheese.com), that of which he still has a major role in today. Marco writes about stocks and options whenever he gets the chance. He's dedicated to educate his readers to the best of his ability about the financial markets, particularly about buying/selling options and different strategies. 2008 was one of the most profitable years trading stocks and options for Marco. He trades based on technicals and fundamentals, so you may find many of his posts valuable.
KLLJ is a private investor focusing on small cap stocks in biotechnology, emerging markets and renewable energy. I have been an active investor for 15 years and focus on picking stocks with tremendous upside. I enjoy sharing my thoughts in forums such as Seeking Alpha to help with my own due diligence process. I'm a critical thinker who appreciated constructive feedback to my investing ideas. I am not a short-term or momentum trader and like to think my strength is in picking good stocks with 10X potential returns. I don't believe in relying on Wall Street coverage of companies because of the inherent conflicts of interest (known or unknown.) We are in the market to make money and it is up to you, the individual retail investor to perform your own analysis for investment decisions if you want to win in the market. My analysis and viewpoints are not investment advice and you should always perform your own due diligence.
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The goal of VFC's Stock House is to 'call it like I see it' - while bringing new ideas, companies, and discussions to the eyes of investors and readers. This is supposed to be fun and new investors should not invest with the idea that this will 'pay the bills' or with the belief that a stock will just keep going up. DD is paramount, but so is sticking to pre-conceived entry and exit strategies and not letting emotional trading get in the way.
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