Dr. El-Erian is Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz and member of its International Executive Committee. He chairs President Obama's Global Development Council, is a Financial Times Contributing Editor, a Bloomberg View columnist and author of the NYT/WSJ best seller "When Markets Collide."
Dr. El-Erian formerly served as CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, the global investment management company. He re-joined PIMCO at the end of 2007 after serving for two years as president and CEO of Harvard Management Company, the entity that manages Harvard’s endowment and related accounts.
Dr. El-Erian also served as a member of the faculty of Harvard Business School. He first joined PIMCO in 1999 and was a senior member of PIMCO's portfolio management and investment strategy group.
Before coming to PIMCO, Dr. El-Erian was a managing director at Salomon Smith Barney/Citigroup in London and before that, he spent 15 years at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C.
Dr. El-Erian has published widely on international economic and finance topics. His book, "When Markets Collide," won the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs 2008 Business Book of the Year and was named a book of the year by The Economist and one of the best business books of all time by the Independent (UK). He was named to Foreign Policy’s list of “Top 100 Global Thinkers” for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Dr. El-Erian has served on several boards and committees, including the U.S. Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, the International Center for Research on Women, the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the IMF's Committee of Eminent Persons. He is currently a board member of the NBER, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Cambridge in America. He chairs the Microsoft Investment Advisory Board.
He holds a master's degree and doctorate (economics) from Oxford and received his bachelor and master degrees from Cambridge. He is an Honorary Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge University.
Chief Investment Officer, Stanford Wealth Management. Retired senior exec of Charles Schwab. 36 years active and reserve military service -- 6 in special operations, 30 in the intelligence community. Geopolitical analyst.
Author -- investment book Bringing Home the Gold.
Editor -- The Investor’s Edge®. In the 16 years from inception through year-end 2015, the Investor’s Edge® Growth & Value Portfolio increased in value from $250,000 to $1,038,453. That same $250,000 invested in the S&P 500 rose to just $422,905. (Past results are no guarantee of future performance; maybe those 16 years were pure luck.)
Featured in Forbes, Barrons, The Wall Street Journal, Financial World, Wall Street Transcript, Global Investing, Welling on Wall Street, etc.
If you have a $500,000 portfolio ($250,000 for solely mutual funds & ETFs) you may contact me for a no-obligation "second opinion." firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individual investor focused upon a limited number of diversified stocks. Seeks stocks selling below fair value; favors dividend growth. Advocates fundamental investment analysis, supplemented by the technical charts. Options strategies primarily employed to generate additional income or hedge risk.
Chris Ciovacco is the founder and CEO of Ciovacco Capital Management (CCM), an independent money management firm serving individual investors nationwide. The thoroughly researched and backtested CCM Market Model answers these important questions: (1) How much should we allocate to risk assets?, (2) How much should we allocate to conservative assets?, (3) What are the most attractive risk assets?, and (4) What are the most attractive conservative assets?
Chris is an expert in identifying the best ETFs from a wide variety of asset classes, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and precious metals. The CCM Market Model compares over 130 different ETFs to identify the most attractive risk-reward opportunities.
Chris graduated summa cum laude from The Georgia Institute of Technology with a co-operative degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering. Prior to founding Ciovacco Capital Management in 1999, Mr. Ciovacco worked as a Financial Advisor for Morgan Stanley in Atlanta for five years earning a strong reputation for his independent research and high integrity. While at Georgia Tech, he gained valuable experience working as a co-op for IBM (1985-1990). During his time with Morgan Stanley, Chris received extensive training which included extended stays in NYC at the World Trade Center.
His areas of expertise include technical analysis and market model development. CCM’s popular weekly technical analysis videos on YouTube have been viewed over 700,000 times. Chris’ years of experience and research led to the creation of the thoroughly backtested CCM Market Model, which serves as the foundation for the management of separate accounts for individuals and businesses.
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Peter Way Associates is the only known provider of the price range forecasts of widely-held, actively traded stocks derived from the hedging activities of market-making [MM] firms as they balance big-$-fund sellers and buyers in large block trades. The price ranges offer explicit downside exposure forecasts not commonly found in publicly published investment analyses.
This is all forward-looking data, based on what the MMs will pay for protection against coming unwanted price change while temporarily committed firm capital is exposed to market risks. It is available by modest subscription cost at blockdesk.com.
The behavioral analysis involved has been performed daily since Y2K, now on over 3,000 stocks, ETFs, and market indexes. That has built an actuarial history of how market prices have subsequently behaved following several million price range forecasts, issue by issue.
That data provides a qualitative backdrop to current forecasts in terms of odds of profitable positions, size of prospective gains, credibility of forecasts, and worst-case price drawdown exposure experiences.
Peter F. Way is a veteran Chartered Financial Analyst, having taken and passed the CFA Institute’s required 3 examinations in the first years they were given, 40+ years ago.
Armed with BS in Economics from the Wharton School and an MBA degree from Harvard Business School, he has managed staffs of dozens of Investment Researchers and Quantitative Analysts for the nation’s largest bank, arbitraged index options for NYSE Specialists, and managed portfolios of hundred-million-dollar equity investments for Fortune 100 corporate pension funds and non-profit endowments.
He has been elected President of professional Investment Analyst Societies in San Diego and New York City and has served on the editorial boards of the Financial Analysts Journal and the CFA Digest. He has spoken at numerous schools and professional meetings.
Dale Roberts is an Investment Funds Associate with Tangerine Investment Funds Limited, a subsidiary of Tangerine Bank wholly owned by Scotiabank. My articles are for information purposes only and do not constitute investment advice or an offer or the solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any securities. These articles are my personal opinion and are not those of Tangerine Bank or its subsidiaries. Remember past performance is not guaranteed and may not be repeated. Investment strategies are not suitable for everyone and you should always conduct your own research or speak to a financial advisor.
GuruFundPicks.com offers top buy & sell picks based on the collective or Consensus Picks' of over 330 of our hand-picked top hedge & mutual fund managers, incl. 78 legendary or guru fund managers, 27 of the world's largest or mega funds, 165 sector-focused funds (in gold, biotech, tech, energy, consumer, finance & REITs), 59 billionaires, 54 new masters and 40 tiger, 52 shareholder activist and our Winners Circle Top 100 Performing Hedge Fund Managers (updated quarterly). We offer market-beating tools and services including Consensus Picks' DIY Tools, Top 20 Small-Cap and Top 30 All-Cap Long/Short Newsletters based on the Consensus Picks system, and Trade Alert Services for Self & Auto-Trading. All of our services have beaten market averages by wide margins. See our website GuruFundPicks.com for the latest performance numbers, or contact us at support@GuruFundPicks.com.
The two authors are co-managers of a family partnership long/short equity fund since 2001, that have a successful track record in trading primarily small-cap aggressive growth companies based on a fundamental valuation analysis of current news, including quarter reports, guidance, biotech clinical study results and other news. The junior partner is a self-taught private investor with a Business degree from the New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business and the senior partner has an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, including prior MS & BS (Engg.) degrees, and with experience in business strategy consulting to large fortune 100 companies.
We are generally sector and market-cap agnostic, identifying opportunities using a 'stock picking' bottom-up, fundamentals-based, valuation-driven approach. However, we find most opportunities in the small-cap space, in technology & healthcare sectors, with some also found often in the consumer, energy & basic materials sectors.
Follow us on Seeking Alpha and Twitter (@GuruFundPicks), and connect with us on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/manishbabla)
I spend most of my time reading through annual reports looking for a small-cap stock to feature in my monthly edition of "The Conservative Investor Digest." That is where you can find my best work, and that is where I focus my research. You can become a subscriber here: https://gumroad.com/l/HmqJx
I run the long-term investing website "The Conservative Income Investor" which can be found at: www.theconservativeincomeinvestor.com
Jeffrey Dow Jones is the managing editor for Alpine Advisor. He has previously worked for PaineWebber/UBS and Ford Motor Credit Company, and he spent the last decade co-managing a group of hedge funds. He holds a degree in Business Economics with a specialization in Computer Programming from The University of California - Los Angeles.
He publishes a free weekly newsletter at AlpineAdvisor.info.
I provide economic analysis, market commentary and company-specific research. My general view is to operate a diversified basket of long-term investments in both equities and fixed income. I have a bachelor's degree in economics from San Diego State University (2007), eight years of publishing experience and over a decade of cumulative investment experience. I have been published in several newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal and Barron's.
I am an individual investor and the author of seven eBooks on dividend growth investing. I try to help self-directed individual investors profit from stock investing. I contribute articles and studies to both Seeking Alpha and Daily Trade Alert. I hold an undergraduate degree in physics from Holy Cross College and a JD from Georgetown University. My wife Sue and I live in beautiful Canandaigua, NY.
Disclaimer and disclosure: It is probable that the author and his associates have a position in the subject securities consistent with the opinion expressed in this article and they reserve the right to buy and/or sell the securities mentioned in this article, at any time without further notice.
Zorro Trades attempts to utilize fundamental analysis to identify securities and then gain an idea of when to enter said security via technical analysis.
David Hunkar (pseudonym) holds a Masters Degree in Finance and Economics. He is a part-time consultant for a financial consulting firm where he manages portfolios for manages portfolios for self and family. He has been an investor for the past ten years. David focuses on foreign stocks trading in the US markets including the OTC market. He concentrates on high dividend yield and dividend growth stocks. ETFs are his another favorite investment vehicle. In addition to his contributions here at Seeking Alpha, you can also visit him at his blog www.topforeignstocks.com
Mr. Hui has been involved in the equity markets since 1980, both on the buy side and the sell side. He is a CFA Charterholder, and has presented numerous papers to quantitative discussion groups (Sample topics include: How Global are Resource Sectors).
Thomas H. Kee Jr., is President and CEO of Stock Traders Daily. The Stock of the Week Strategy offered by Stock Traders Daily may be the best performing strategy on the market since December, 2007 (before the credit crisis), and "The Investment Rate" is arguably the best measure of the underlying economy available anywhere (it is a macroeconomic work). Our reports and analysis are currently offered by Reuters Research to their institutional clients. Economic analysis and forecasting is provided to a variety of institutional and retail clientele through Stock Traders Daily's corporate website. Mr. Kee had worked with Smith Barney, AG Edwards, and Morgan Stanley before founding Stock Traders Daily in January 2000. Stock Traders daily thrived during the Internet Debacle. (http://stocktradersdaily.com/)
I obtained my CPA in 1990 and became a CFA charter holder in 2000. I consider myself an expert in Quantitative and Qualitative analysis and have extensive experience in Technical Analysis. I also have a deep interest in stock market history and hold degrees in Economics (BSBA) and Management Information Systems (MBA). I have been actively involved with investment analysis and investment management since 1985 but have been a student of investing since the 1960s. I owned my first individual stock position while still in high school. I am a student of Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett. I have achieved a uniquely diverse experience from multiple careers that has allowed me to develop a broad perspective enabling me to look at the big picture of macroeconomics all the way down to the retail unit or factory floor. In my youth I was in retail, then served in reconnaissance during my tours in Vietnam. I have been a blue collar, union worker in a factory and a manager in services, hospitality and transportation as well as a manager of professional staffs. I have more than 20 years of experience each in both public and private sectors. I have personal points of reference that many analysts will never have. I bring more to the table than just the theories and models I have studied or built. To understand more about my investing philosophy please visit my blog on my website.
I am a medical professional, but I have been studying investing for many years so that I can control my own portfolio. DGI seems to be the best way for me to invest for my retirement while being able to sleep at night.
I have also been successfully trading cash secured puts for extra income. I share my experience on my websites, Tradingcsps.com and my blog Tradingputs.com.
Retired Project Manager - 38 years with a national utility. Married 38 years and have 3 wonderful kids. USAF Veteran. Investing primarily in solid dividend paying companies with focus to generate income, capital appreciation is of secondary concern but still important.
As an SA Contributor I write about dividend investing general principles and strategies. I'll also write about concepts that apply across the investment spectrum but my focus is generally directed to dividend paying companies.
I tend to be conservative in investing approach. I invest and trade so as to increase my "discretionary" income. I live off my retirement pension and want to increase my account to provide additional income in future years. I'm 63 but haven't made a determination as to when I'll start using the additional income, preferring to remain flexible.
As a side note the profile picture is not me, it's my great grand-dad who was born in 1833, fought in the Civil War, fathered 11 children (the last one born when he was 67), worked hard as a farmer to take care of them, and died in 1910. I use it as inspiration to remind myself not to get lazy. I am fortunate to have been raised by great parents who set a great example for work ethic and taught me that we can accomplish much if we're willing to apply ourselves. That's why I invest my own money rather than depending on someone else.
I am focussed on building passive income through dividend investing. My path to progress is smart saving, sound investing and income through dividends.
My blog can be found at financiallyintegrated.com.
Kiran is an independent research consultant in the areas of volatility-based and leveraged instruments, including several proprietary strategies.
His services include hypotheses generation, back-testing, risk/return analytics, and predictive modelling for proprietary trading strategies, as well as research consulting in the above areas. Expected and realized returns for his 2 flagship strategy portfolios exceed 100% on an annualized basis, while maintaining expected and realized Sharpe ratios over 3 times higher than the S&P 500. Kiran was mentored by Wall Street research veteran Mark Gomes. Alongside Mr. Gomes, he brought Wall Street level research to retail and institutional investors through PTT Capital's flagship newsletters.
Tech Analyst and opportunistic investor focused primarily on micro caps and up and coming technology companies. I am currently in discussions with a partner to develop and launch a investment premium newsletter website. If you are interested in learning more about my premium newsletter or would like to be added to my mailing list you can inbox me.
You can follow my personal trades and invest your own money with me via Instavest www.instavest.com My focus is on ground breaking technology and the companies that will deliver them in the future. I have managed a family portfolio since 2008 that has been focused on growth and income generation. You can follow me on twitter @MattMargolis24
Jake Huneycutt is a former Portfolio Manager. Jake holds an MBA degree with a concentration in finance from Emory University. He earned a Master of Accounting degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his B.A. in History from East Tennessee State University. Jake is originally from Johnson City, TN and currently splits time between Boston, MA and Atlanta, GA.
Larry Swedroe is director of research for Buckingham Asset Management (www.investmentadvisornow.com), a Registered Investment Advisor firm in St. Louis, Mo and an independent member of the BAM ALLIANCE (www.thebamalliance.com). He is also director of research for BAM Advisor Services, LLC (www.bamservices.com), a service provider to investment advisors across the country, most of whom are affiliated with CPA firms. Previously, Larry was vice chairman of Prudential Home Mortgage. Larry holds an MBA in finance and investment from NYU, and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Baruch College.
To help inform investors about the passive investment approach, he was among the first authors to publish a book that explained passive investing in layman’s terms — The Only Guide to a Winning Investment Strategy You'll Ever Need. He has authored seven more books: What Wall Street Doesn't Want You to Know (2001), Rational Investing in Irrational Times (2002), The Successful Investor Today (2003), Wise Investing Made Simple (2007), Wise Investing Made Simpler (2010) and The Quest for Alpha (2011), and Think, Act, and Invest Like Warren Buffett (2012).
He also co-authored five books: The Only Guide to a Winning Bond Strategy You’ll Ever Need (2006, with Joe Hempen), The Only Guide to Alternative Investments You’ll Ever Need (2008, with Jared Kizer) and The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need for the Right Financial Plan (2010, with Tiya Lim and Kevin Grogan), Ivestment Mistakes Even Smart Investors Make (2011, with RC Balaban) and Reducing the Risk of Black Swans (2013 with Kevin Grogan). He writes the blog Wise Investing for CBS’s personal finance Web site http://www.cbsnews.com/search/author/larry-swedroe, He also writes for IndexUniverse.com http://www.indexuniverse.com/sections/index-investor-corner.html and you can follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/larryswedroe).
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.
Benjamin is the founder of ModernGraham.com, a website devoted to the study and modernization of the teachings of Benjamin Graham. Benjamin graduated cum laude with a J.D. and Certificate in Taxation from DePaul University College of Law, and a B.S. in Finance (Honors) from DePaul University College of Commerce.
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The writer is a long term value investor and M.Sc graduate in Financial Markets with over 10 years experience. Value can be found in both long and short ideas and uses options to enhance the risk-return profile of investment ideas.
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