I am an activist investor in US and Chinese stocks. I was previously an investment banker in New York Hong Kong and London for 9 years, focused on Equity Capital Markets. I look at both long ideas and short ideas and typically focus on a small number on names where I can spend the time to conduct very deep research. I spend my time living between Los Angeles and Beijing, China.
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.
I work full-time as a strategy and management consultant for public sector clients but finance, economics, and investing are my passion. I self-manage my investment portfolio*, which is in the low seven digits of net worth and is comprised of common stock, preferred stock, hedged option positions and real estate (I purchase condos and SFHs that are distressed and rent them out). My investment style is opportunistic and since I started investing in the 1990s, I've owned a variety of asset classes using a variety of investment strategies including -- distressed deep value, momentum trading, Growth At a Reasonable Price (GARP), special situations, dividend growth, and turnarounds. My goal is to create a nest egg large enough that I could comfortably quit my day job and become a ski-and-hiking bum.
My current investment interests are high dividend stocks such as REITs (both mortgage and non-mortgage related), BDCs, MLPs, and asset lessors. I'm also interested in technology when I can get value, stocks trading below book value in general, and I've long been a fan of emerging markets and international stocks, although that's been a tough place to be lately. Although I don't have an intentional bias, I tend to be intrigued by smaller cap companies, probably because they are more easily misunderstood by Mr. Market. I love being right almost as much as I love making money.
I have a Masters in Financial Engineering from Cornell University.
*I also manage my mom's portfolio which is geared toward her status as a retiree and widow.
Have been investing in stocks for over 25 years. Worked on Wall Street on the equity side of the business. Now invest in both public and private equity. Try to identify Overlooked and Underfollowed names set up for outsized returns.
Sharon di Stefano has spent 20 years as an analyst, beginning her career at Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. specializing in medical devices, pharmaceuticals, healthcare information technology, and biopharmacology. Ms. di Stefano had also served as Senior Venture Officer for the Edison Innovation Fund, implemented through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority that provided funding for early-stage life sciences companies. Industry experience includes laboratory research for Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Department of Defense.
Ms. di Stefano received a Masters of Science degree, in Business, from Johns Hopkins University in 1986, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Delaware in 1984 with a minor in biology.
Author of the critically acclaimed book, "Taking Charge With Value Investing (McGraw-Hill, 2013)" and the equity research company "BNL Finance". An analyst that ranks in the top 4% on both tipranks.com and Motley Fool CAPS for stock picking performance.
Residing in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Has been trading and coaching using a self-developed option trading system for 10 years. Philosophically conservative, accurately trades weekly options with a strong risk management approach.
Well sought after by investors around the world, he teaches a minimum and hand-selected number of students each quarter how to trade his system.
Besides investing his interests are: Acoustic Guitar, Kayaking, Mountain Biking
Portfolio manager delivering alpha principally through the discovery of under-the-radar small cap names with compelling stories misunderstood/underappreciated by the market.
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.
Spencer Osborne is founder of Satellite Standard Group [SSG], and a partner of Sirius Buzz (http://siriusbuzz.com/). Sirius Buzz covers the satellite radio industry as well as companies that do business in this sector. Sirius Buzz provides information and opinion to readers with an interest in the sector from an investment, as well as consumer perspective.
Along with his work in the media sector, Spencer covers various equities that interest him and writes about these equities from a unique and "out of the box" perspective. Over the years Spencer has built a network of resources within the sectors he writes about. His opinion and insight is oft referred to and sought after by analysts.
10 years investing in $10 or less stocks. My portfolio has grown from an initial $4K investment to well over a million in that period of time. I specialize in identifying under-the-radar, unloved stocks with great upside.
Paul is a stock investor with an accounting/finance background. He likes to look for value growth stocks and momentum news plays. He is also known as Superman on Twitter @super_trades and his blog is www.super-trades.com (http://www.super-trades.com).
I'm an asset manager at Hebba Alternative Investments with a focus on real assets. In my articles I like to focus on events that affect the macro environment for assets (especially gold and silver), and also introduce readers to different metrics that I believe are under-utilized when assessing investments.
On a more personal note, I'm a firm believer that there can be honesty, morality, and integrity in finance (though its rare) and i'd like to believe that I stick to those principles. Thus I never "pump and dump" stocks, I always list the securities we own, and I take it very seriously when I recommend a company - I do not want to see any investors/readers lose money because of my recommendations.
I'm not always right with recommendations, but investors and readers can know that I always tell the truth (there is no deception) and I eat my own cooking as recommendations are either always owned OR the reason I dont own them is given (usually related to restrictions on stocks I can buy).
Advising people in financial matters is a serious issue and integrity is much more important than money to me, but I do believe both can co-exist. You live with money, but after your death you only have your morality and integrity and thus i've made my choice between the two. A bit philosophical for a bio, but I dont think there's a better way to give investors my background than that.
We offer investors a free weekly email list detailing gold, silver, and general economic markets which you can sign up for at: http://www.communitysynergy.com/subscribe/hebbainvestments_subscribe.html
Andrew Left's Citron Research (http://www.citronresearch.com/) (formally known as Stocklemon.com) seeks to expose companies whose management is in some way misleading investors. Left digs into SEC filings, financials, management histories and other data to uncover such situations, and he is usually short the stocks he writes about. Mr. Left has been publishing for 7 years and has created a track record that is unrivaled in short selling. Mr. Left has been cited in Barron's, Wall St Journal, CNBC and other major publications repeatedly for his work. Mr. Left was also an invited speaker at the reknown Master Investor Conference.
Visit: Citron Research (http://www.citronresearch.com/)
Bookmark QTR's new blog, where exclusive (and always FREE) content will be available: http://www.quoththeravenresearch.com
Visit QTR and check out trading ideas, commentary, and me arguing with idiots on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/quoththeravensa
QTR's ARTICLES ARE BOUND BY SA'S CONTRIBUTOR POLICY IN ADDITION TO THIS ENTIRE LENGTHY, YET EXTREMELY PERTINENT ADD ON DISCLOSURE, WHICH SERVES AS BOTH A STANDALONE DISCLOSURE AND AN AMENDMENT TO ANY AND ALL DISCLOSURES ALREADY PRESIDING OVER SEEKING ALPHA:
Quoth the Raven's ("QTR") articles are the sole product of QTR and his personal, individual opinions. These articles are not associated with, in any way, the opinions, strategies, or works of QTR's employer, associates, or entities in any way otherwise related to QTR.
(i.e. This are solely my personal thoughts and opinions)
You agree that by reading Quoth the Raven's articles, you are acting at your OWN RISK. In NO EVENT should QTR be liable for any direct or indirect trading losses caused by any information contained in QTR's articles, StockTalks, or other internet-based dissemination methods. Information in QTR's articles are not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security, nor shall any security be offered or sold to any person, in any jurisdiction in which such offer would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. QTR is not suggesting the transacting of any financial instruments and QTR suggests consulting your personal financial adviser with regards to any such transactions.
QTR makes no representations, and specifically disclaims all warranties, express, implied, or statutory, regarding the accuracy, timeliness, or completeness of any material contained in this site. Again, you should seek the advice of your personal financial adviser or a security professional regarding your stock transactions.
QTR does not, in any way, guarantee that he is providing all of the information that may be available on any topic written. QTR recommends, again, that you do your own due diligence and consult a registered financial adviser before buying or selling any security.
QTR most always holds a position in any of the securities profiled in his pieces and he constructs his SA disclosures in accordance with SA's Contributor Policy, to the best of his knowledge in order to maintain transparency and also to uphold and respect pertinent securities laws. QTR may or may not report when a position is initiated or covered. Each investor must make that decision based on his/her judgment of the market.
I am not a stockbroker or financial adviser. I am a casual investor making casual observations for the purpose of discussion and open communication and analysis of companies and stocks. All articles are my opinion only and are not suggestions to buy or sell any equity, bond, option or other financial instrument. QTR may have long or short positions in any tickers mentioned at any time and reserves the right to open, close, or modify positions at all time without notice. My conclusions are the result of my personal due diligence and have been wrong in the past. There are tons of unqualified people out there offering up financial advice and its your responsibility to sort through the BS. You don't hit the button to fill my orders and I don't hit yours, so no whining or praising over stocks covered by me.
Follow QTR on Twitter: https://twitter.com/QuoththeRavenSA
View QTR's Stock Picking Performance for every article at TipRanks:
Renaissance Capital is an IPO investment advisory firm providing pre-IPO institutional research and management of IPO-focused funds including the Renaissance IPO ETF (NYSE ticker: IPO), the Renaissance International IPO ETF (NYSE ticker: IPOS) and the Global IPO Mutual Fund (ticker: IPOSX). Through Renaissance Capital’s pre-IPO research service, investors get a hard-nosed, independent opinion, in-depth fundamental analysis and customizable financial models on all IPOs. The Firm's clients also gain access to the premier IPO knowledge base with deal calendars, market commentary, fundamental data on over 5,000 past IPOs and more.
Lares Capital, a long/short fund that specializes in small caps, option strategies, and low-liquidity equities. The fund invests in both domestic and foreign securities.
You can contact us at email@example.com.
I have written 2 dutch books on value investing: "Aandelen selecteren als waardebelegger" and "Beleggen in bull- en bearmarkten". See bol.com (search for the titles). As a mathematician (Ph.D.) I am most interested in investment strategies with statistically favorable returns. In particular I invest in net-nets (20-30% average annual returns). I find companies with low Enterprise Value/Earnings before Tax and Interest (EV/EBIT) and strong balance sheets (20% average annual returns) also very interesting. Since such stocks are rare I invest globally. Send me a message with your email address to get example articles of my premium research on Seeking Alpha.
John is a lawyer and accountant with over three decades of corporate finance, due diligence, M&A advisory and related legal services for manufacturers, innovators and investors in the energy storage and renewable energy sectors.
Over the last eight years John has earned a global following for his articles on the energy storage and alternative energy sectors. He has contributed to AltEnergyStocks, Seeking Alpha, The Street, NASDAQ.com and Batteries International Magazine and InvestorIntel.
John is a 1979 graduate of the Notre Dame Law School and a 1976 graduate of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. He was admitted to the bar in 1980 and licensed to practice as a CPA in 1981. John’s diverse experience in corporate finance, natural resource development and energy storage give him a unique and sometimes unsettling perspective on the technical, economic and supply chain challenges of the battery industry.
Analyst and Fund Manager with almost 20 years investment experience. Coverage includes a variety of industries, with a focus on technology.
Particularly focused on value stocks, poorly understood or under-followed situations, and contrarian perspectives.
Primarily invest in special situations with value that is poorly understood or not fully appreciated, or where we believe there is a highly asymetric risk/reward profile. Also look for long/short ideas in mid/larger cap names where we believe we have a variant view, and the market is dramatically mispricing value.
Follow me on Twitter @valinsights
Jeff is the President of NewArc Investments Inc., manager of both individual and institutional investments. Jeff is a registered investment advisor, and portfolio manager for NewArc's investment programs. Jeff is a former college professor with a hands-on, real world attitude. His quantitative modeling helped inform state and local officials in Wisconsin for more than a decade. A Public Policy analyst, he taught advanced research methods at the University of Wisconsin, and analyzed many issues related to state tax policy. Jeff began in the financial business as Research Director for trading firm at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. He investigated anomalies in the standard option pricing models, taught classes for beginning options traders, and developed new forecasting techniques. In 1991 he established a general research consultancy, working with professional traders at all of the Chicago financial exchanges. In 1998 he started NewArc Investments, Inc. Jeff has a commitment to the specific needs of individual investors. It is not a one-size-fits all approach, but one that emphasizes the unique circumstances of each client. Jeff also serves on the board of two small technology companies (currently Chairman at one). He is occasionally as an expert witness in legal cases involving financial markets and hedging.
The enormous advancement in the biological sciences that is taking place has begun to change the traditional way of practicing medicine. Far-reaching biological products are being approved and news about breakthroughs are occupying the media headlines. However, selecting the biotechnology firms for investment requires not only an understanding of the company's finances, but also deep knowledge of the company's potential and the potential and scientific validity of it's products and technologies.
Our Mission is evaluating biotechnology companies, their products, their technologies, scientists, managements, as well as their finances. Our goal is to impart our readers with the knowledge and insight so that they may have a heightened understanding and appreciation for the biotechnology industry.
The Prohost Letter has been in circulation since 1992. Our readers are comprised of venture capital, fund managers, investors, medical professionals and individuals with one common interest, biotechnology.
Prohost Letter is posted in the members areas on the www.prohostbiotech.com. around 40 times a year. Articles are posted several times a week for subscribers in TODAY'S HIGHLIGHTS section and in News & Comments sector for all website visitors
Editor for The Biotech Forum (www.biotechforumsa.com), the #2 subscribed to Marketplace investment service offered through SeekingAlpha. Top 5% ranked analyst (TipRanks) 2013 through first half of 2015. Daily contributor for Real Money Pro. Hedge fund manager from 2008 to 2011. Previously technology executive at Fortune 100 firm for a decade. For Free weekly investment reports on small, attractive biotech stocks just register at www.bretjenseninvests.com
I retired as CEO of an Automotive Parts supplier, and manage an investment portfolio for myself and family. I have a BA in History from Royal Military College of Canada and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario. My first career was as a fighter pilot in the RCAF, and, following my MBA I joined McKinsey & Company, Inc. leaving them for Canadian GE. I left CGE as a Vice President in 1984 and founded The Enfield Corporation Limited ("Enfield") which grew from 243 employees in 1984 to over 10,000 in 1989 when Enfield was taken over and I was replaced as CEO. In 1989, I acquired control of Algonquin Mercantile Corporation, renamed Automodular Corporation in the late 1990's when I turned it to focus exclusively on automotive parts sub-assembly. Along the way, Algonquin turned a few ageing drug stores into Pharmx Rexall Drug Stores Ltd., sold to Katz group in 1997 and today a major Canadian drug store chain. I have been a private investor since 1971 both directly and through a private company controlled by myself and members of my family.
I only look at stocks that have the possibility to double over a twelve month period and stocks in which the risk/reward ratio payout is high. In addition I focus on swing trade opportunities.
I focus more on valuations and risk/reward metrics as opposed to what make companies tick.
I have been a professional investor for over 20 years and during the past several years an economics analyst and financial writer for capital.gr, the biggest economic news portal in Greece.
I have managed money from time to time and have also done some seed venture capital projects in the past.
Wall Street Breakfast, Seeking Alpha's flagship daily business news summary, is a one-page summary that gives you a rapid overview of the day's key financial news. It's designed for easy readability on the site or by email (including on mobile devices), and is published before 7:00 AM ET every market day.
Wall Street Breakfast readership of over 900,000 includes many from the investment-banking and fund-management industries.
Sign up here to receive the Wall Street Breakfast in your inbox every business day: http://seekingalpha.com/account/email_preferences
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.
Current investor at Upfront Ventures and Freeman Spogli & Co. in Los Angeles. Former CMO for HauteLook (now owned by Nordstrom), Live Nation, StubHub and eBay. Bay Area sports enthusiast, decent golfer, maturing father and #LongLA.