I suspect that most dividend investors are conservative by nature. I am. I don't believe I have any special talent or gift for trading, a crystal ball, or any access to insider information. Consequently, I have little expectation of prospering by consistently buying low and selling high. In fact, prior to becoming a dividend investor, my trading history boasted the opposite, buying high and selling low. Tis sad but true, over those years, I'd given more to the market than I'd taken from it. However, that's yesterday's news, and of no real interest. Of importance is that I'm patient, analytical, organized, pretty good at math, and always looking for that angle, strategy, or edge to help guarantee my continued market success. My book, The Dividend Investor's Guide, details my history, education and growth as a dividend investor and the lessons I learned along the way. It details an effective and safe overall investing philosophy, along with a discussion of several proven trading strategies designed to enhance one's portfolio's income and dividend yield.
Motto: I invest in undervalued (i.e. cheap) well-established companies trading at a below market multiple.
The companies that I invest in are large stable companies with proven track records. My goal is the highest total return possible with the least amount of risk.
Professional Background: I am a healthcare practitioner with extensive experience in the pharmaceutical sector. I have a passion for investing honed over the past twenty years through various market cycles.
I'm the lead investment research analyst for income and dividend investing at Investors Alley, an independent investment research service. My primary role is editor of several investment advisories bringing deep dive research and actionable income and dividend investment recommendations to investors. These advisories include The Dividend Hunter, 30 Day Dividends, and Tax-Smart Income Hunter.
Prior to joining Investors Alley, I was a stock broker, a Certified Financial Planner, and an F-16 fighter pilot and flight instructor with the United States Air Force. In addition to my primary duty of flying the F-16 to defend our nation's skies I was an instructor in the F-16 Flying Falcon as well as the OV-10 Bronco. During my time in the service I was stationed at various military locations in including Osan AB, Korea, Patrick AFB, Florida, and Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. I graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a degree in mathematics.
It was during those years when I was a Certified Financial Planner and helping families and individuals plan their finances and make wise investment decisions that found my second passion in life: investment research. (Flying was and still is my first.)
My area of specialty is evaluating income generating investments to find the combination of sustainable and growing dividends, special dividend opportunities, and share price appreciation driven by management's commitment to dividend growth. I have a particular emphasis on master limited partnerships, business development corporations, and real estate investment trusts.
I've previously written for USA Today, The Motley Fool, eHow, SFGate, Chron.com, Wikinvest.com, Moneynews.com, iStockAnalyst, among others, and have contributed vast firsthand research to a major provider of data on master limited partnerships, another area of extreme interest to me. Along with my duties with Investors Alley I'm a regular contributor to Seeking Alpha.
In addition to the articles posted here on Seeking Alpha you can find my investment analysis on the Investors Alley website and the weekly newsletter, The Market Cap.
I am a dividend investor and look for undervalued investments in the stock market. I identify misunderstood and undervalued equity investments and hold those securities until their price approximates my estimate of intrinsic value. I am a long-term investor only.
I am building a $100,000 high-yield income portfolio. I am running this portfolio as an experiment to see if long-term sustainable income can be generated from a diversified pool of high-risk, high-yield securities. I am willing to accept high risk in order to meet my performance goals.
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
Andy Hecht is the chief market strategist for Carden Capital and Carden Futures. Andy is a sought-after commodity and futures trader, an options expert and analyst. He spent nearly 35 years on Wall Street, including two decades on the trading desk of Phillip Brothers, which became Salomon Brothers and ultimately part of Citigroup.
Over the past two decades, he has researched, structured and executed some of the largest trades ever made, involving huge quantities of precious metals and bulk commodities.
Andy understands the market in a way many traders can’t imagine. He’s booked vessels, armored cars and trains to transport and store a wide range of commodities. And he’s worked directly with The United Nations and the legendary trading group Phibro.
Today, Andy remains in close contact with sources around the world and his network of traders.
“I have a vast Rolodex of information in my head… so many bull and bear markets. When something happens, I don’t have to think. I just react. History does tend to repeat itself over and over.”
His friends and mentors include highly regarded energy and precious metals traders, supply line specialists and international shipping companies that give him vast insight into the market.
Andy’s writing and analysis can be found on a number of market based websites including CQG. Andy lectures at colleges and Universities. He also contributes to Traders Magazine. He consults for companies involved in producing and consuming commodities. Andy's biweekly radio show, The Commodities Hour with Andy Hecht, can be heard on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-6 PM EST on www.tfnn.com. Andy’s first book How to Make Money with Commodities, published by McGraw Hill was released in 2013 and has received excellent reviews. He is currently working on his second book, Luster. Andy held a Series 3 and Series 30 license from the National Futures Association and is associated as a collaborator and strategist with hedge funds. Andy is the commodity-expert for the website about.com and blogs on his own site technomentals.com.
I focus on investments in the oil & gas sector with an eye for dividend income and long-term capital appreciation. I typically allocate a portion of my own portfolio and devote some of my Seeking Alpha articles to small and medium sized companies offering compelling risk/reward propositions.
I am an engineer, not a qualified investment advisor. While the information and data presented in this article were obtained from company documents and/or sources believed to be reliable, they have not been independently verified. Therefore, I cannot guarantee its accuracy. I advise investors conduct their own research and/or consult a qualified investment advisor. I explicitly disclaim any liability that may arise from investment decisions you make based on this article. Thanks for reading and I wish you much success – Michael Fitzsimmons.
I am a former engineer in topography (ESGT Paris 80) and specialized later in metrology or very precise measurement (CERN). I was interested in quantum metrology for a while...
I live mostly between California (Santa Monica), Provence-Cote d'Azur (Where my children and grandchildren live) and Sweden (South West Skåne) with my loving wife.
I am managing (investment manager) a large and old private family fund and trade personally a medium-size portfolio for over 25 years
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Einstein.
Contributing columnist for Real Money and TheStreet.com. BA in History from Bemidji State in Minnesota. I went on to learn Chinese at National Taiwan University in Taipei.
I worked in mortgage sales at Countrywide and Bank of America until 2010 when I decided to relocate to Taiwan.
Charles Lewis Sizemore, CFA is the Chief Investment Officer of Sizemore Capital Management LLC, a registered investment advisor. He has been a frequent guest on Bloomberg TV and Fox Business News, has been quoted in Barron’s Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post and is a frequent contributor to Forbes Moneybuilder, GuruFocus, MarketWatch and InvestorPlace.com.
Charles holds a master’s degree in Finance and Accounting from the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance with an International Emphasis from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and as a Phi Beta Kappa scholar.
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
I have been an ordained minister for 25 years, but in the last 6 years my life and ministry focus took a different turn. I left full time church ministry to run my own non-profit outreach for at risk young kids (www.nightlifecenter.org) in my town (Sarasota, FL) For the last 8 years i also have focused on becoming a full time Investment Strategist by day, Unconventional pastor by night.
Specialize in the investment in and trading of "deep-value" high-yield securities, including debt, preferred shares, common shares, put/call options, and ETF's, for my own and family accounts only. Have over seventeen years experience personally directing our personal and family accounts on a mostly full-time basis.
Was previously an international-business executive, general manager and entrepreneur in the medical-technology industry. Also provided consulting, related to general management, new-venture formation and acquisition of venture capital.
Education: Brown University, School of Engineering (Sc. B. '71); University of Virginia, Darden School of Business Administration (MBA '73).
Present Home: Sarasota, FL
Previous Homes: New York City, Mountain View, CA
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
My goal is to bring exposure to business development companies (BDCs) that finance small to medium sized businesses, typically overlooked by banks. BDCs are an instrument for investors to earn healthy dividends by avoiding double taxation at the corporate level and allowing income to flow directly to each shareholder. Please see website link below for more information.
Our small-cap hedge fund strategy beat the market by 44 percentage points since its inception 18 months ago. Visit our website to learn how you can do the same. Insider Monkey is a finance website that provides free hedge fund and insider trading data. We believe ordinary investors can beat the market by imitating insiders and best hedge fund managers. They have access to better information and experts than ordinary investors do. Take advantage of the SEC filings where hedge funds and insiders disclose their stock transactions.
Here is our team:
Ms. Krishnamsetty is the Editor of Insider Monkey. Prior to creating Insider Monkey with Dr. Dogan, Ms. Krishnamsetty was Associate Producer at Bloomberg Television. Prior to that, Ms. Krishnamsetty was on the afternoon news team at CNBC. Additionally, Ms. Krishnamsetty reported for NPR and worked as a risk management consultant at Marsh & McLennan. Ms. Krishnamsetty has a M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Insider Monkey’s hybrid evaluation system ...More was created in 2003 by Dr. Ian Dogan. Dr. Dogan has a Ph.D. in financial economics with a specialization in insider trading. Dr. Dogan has provided consulting services to institutional investors and hedge funds, and managed a $200+ million fund using a strategy he developed utilizing insider transactions. Dr. Dogan recently authored the insider trading chapter of soon to be published “The Handbook of Investment Anomalies” by Zacks Investment Research. Insider Monkey will serve the outcome of the methodologies developed by Dr. Dogan to ordinary investors who don’t have access to academic quality research and tools to shape their investments.
For your inquiries please contact us at email@example.com
John Mauldin is a renowned financial expert, a New York Times best-selling author, and a pioneering online commentator. Each week, over 1 million readers turn to Mauldin for his penetrating view on Wall Street, global markets, and economic history.
Mauldin’s weekly e-newsletter, Thoughts from the Frontline, was one of the first publications to provide investors with free, unbiased information and guidance. Today, it is the most widely distributed investment newsletter in the world. Mauldin also offers The Mauldin Circle, a free service that connects accredited investors to an exclusive network of money managers and alternative investment opportunities. (In this regard, he is President and a Registered Representative of Millennium Wave Securities, member FINRA, please see legal disclosures).
Mauldin is a frequent contributor to publications including The Financial Times and The Daily Reckoning, as well as a regular guest on CNBC, Yahoo Tech Ticker, and Bloomberg TV. He also edits the free weekly e-letter Outside the Box.
The Parsimony community is made up of thousands of do-it-yourself dividend and income investors working toward one common goal...generating consistent income!
Our strategy is simple:1. Buy great dividend stocks at reasonable prices.2. Enhance income with conservative option strategies.3. Manage risk through diversification and exit strategies.
Our research (which includes dividend stock rankings, single stock Buy Zone reports, stock screens, and model portfolios) will give you all the tools you need to build and monitor your own DIY Dividend Portfolio and super charge that portfolio with conservative option strategies (cover calls and cash-secured puts).
For more information about our subscription services click the links below:
- DIY Dividend Portfolio
- Triple Income Portfolio (stocks + options)
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/)
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.
Currently an independent consultant for ship management, shipping, energy, and oil services companies. I grew up around shipping, mostly with a knowledge of tankers and liners. Several family members currently work, or have worked, for major oil and oil services companies. My main investment strategy begins with anything in or on the ocean, from rigs, to ships, to ROVs and more.
I have a prior professional history in research and information gathering. Some of that research ability is used for a major think tank involved in global geopolitical risk assessment. I've been writing macro-investment research outlook articles for private equity companies, until recent involvement with a technology start-up.
My name is Andrew Jarmon and I'm a consultant in Los Angeles. I am a long term investor that waits for very specific opportunities to arise for the 3+ year timeframe. I also really enjoy trying to spot bubbles and market inefficiencies.
Questions or comments? E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Global Value Research Company (GVRC) provides investment research and analysis for the firm’s Investment Advisory divisions Milwaukee Private Wealth Management & Milwaukee Institutional Asset Management as well as Global Value Partners LLC. Investment research and analysis is only available to institutional investors as a service.
When evaluating investments, GVRC appraises each issue on a fundamental basis, analyzing income statements, balance sheets, and statement of cash-flows. This analysis allows for an appraisal of the company's worth as though the entire business were being purchased. When we make an investment, the primary consideration is whether a fractional share of the business can be purchased at a significant discount from our appraised value. This spread is our "margin of safety" which is a basic tenet of our investment principles.
Global Value Research Company is a division of Global Value Investment Corp.
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.
Ron Hiram currently manages investment portfolios and assists earlier stage companies in their capital raising efforts. He served as Chief Executive Officer of Cellnet Solutions, Ltd., a supplier of remotely managed networks of public wireless terminals providing voice as well as value-added data services in developing countries, from April 2008 until March 2010. From 2003 to May 2008, Mr. Hiram was a Managing Partner of Eurofund 2000 L.P., a venture capital fund focused on Israeli-related companies in the telecommunications, information technology and microelectronic spheres. Previously, from 2001-2002, Mr. Hiram co-headed TeleSoft Partners' investment activities in Israel. TeleSoft Partners is a Silicon Valley venture capital fund focusing on companies developing telecommunication-related technologies. Between1994-2000, Mr. Hiram served as Managing Director and Partner at Soros Fund Management LLC ("Soros"), an international hedge fund in New York, devoting the bulk of his time to private equity investments. Prior to joining Soros, Mr. Hiram worked at Lehman Brothers for thirteen years (also in New York), most recently serving as Managing Director of a workout and restructuring group. Mr. Hiram has served on the boards of directors of companies publicly listed in the U.S., including Ulticom, Inc. since January 2000 and Comverse Technology, Inc. from 1985-1986 and from 2001-2006 (including as chairman of the board from May 2006 to December 2006). Mr. Hiram also served on the board of TASE listed E. Wardinon Ltd. (2005-2007) and on the boards of numerous privately held companies. Mr. Hiram received an M.B.A. from Columbia University in 1981 and a B.Comm. from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, in 1979.
James A. Shell is currently working as an ISO9001 Quality Systems Consultant and a technical consultant to various other industries,
A veteran of 3 decades in the petrochemical supply chain, I have worked with customers in 19 countries on four continents on formulation development, business development, recycling, logistics, and process improvement projects.
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