PropThink is an intelligence service that delivers long and short trading ideas to investors in the healthcare and life sciences sectors. Our Editorial Team is comprised of individuals with a strong background in science, medicine and the business of successfully commercializing therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics and healthcare services. Our ultimate objective is to leverage the knowledge, experience, and relationships of our contributors to introduce our subscribers to profitable long and short investment opportunities in the healthcare sector.
Successfully trading, and investing in emerging growth healthcare companies is a difficult task. Over 90% of drugs never make it out of the clinic. Huge capital requirements along the way result in highly dilutive equity financings often done on the backs of retail investors. At PropThink, we believe that due diligence is the key to success in this industry. We leverage a combined 50 years of experience in science, medicine, legal, regulatory affairs, finance, and operational industry experience to analyze companies at a highly technical level. This detailed analysis and due diligence process defines our editorial strategy and provides our subscribers a high level of confidence in our research. Our focus is on identifying and analyzing technically-complicated companies and equities that are grossly over or under-valued.
Visit PropThink.com to see all of our coverage and research, and subscribe to our free newsletter to receive reports, articles, and trading alerts.
Investing for over 30 years, spent some time as a broker. Very interested in markets and geopolitical effects.
Nature and animal lover, interested in health and nutrition, history buff, investments skewed to the biotech sector.
John Hodge is an active trader who follows the technology/biotech sector specifically. I have been successfully trading stocks for the last 16 years and still thank those that pointed me in the direction of Qualcomm and Amgen many years ago. I believe research and timing is the key to long term goal attainment in the market.
Red Acre applies value investing principles to mirco-cap and binary event investing.
Our Chief Investment Officer is Rajesh Patel. Prior to Red Acre, Rajesh was a Member of Technical Staff with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory where he analyzed the strategic value of emerging technologies to enhance the capabilities of the U.S. Military. Rajesh holds a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from the University of California, Davis, a Master's in Environmental Science from Rice University and bachelors degrees in both Physics and English from the University of Connecticut.
Red Acre's investment style is to look for opportunities where the intrinsic value of a stock is likely to go through a dramatic transition due to some future event about which we can predict an outcome relying on our research and due diligence experience. We are patient investors and are comfortable with having time horizons of several months to over a year for our investment thesis to fully play out.
Marc Schober is the editor of Farmland Forecast (http://www.farmlandforecast.com/) and a Director at Colvin & Co. LLP. Mr. Schober researches the investment opportunities in farmland and agriculture and has been featured in many financial publications and conferences.
Dana Blankenhorn http://www.danablankenhorn.com has been a business journalist since 1978, and a futurist all his life.He warned about the coming Houston oil collapse in 1979. He began making a living on the Internet in 1985. He launched the first e-commerce daily for CMP in 1994, warned of the coming dot-bomb at a-clue.com in 1997 and began covering the Internet of Things in 2003.Along the way he's written for a host of newspapers, magazines, news services and Web sites. Most recently he was at TheStreet.com, covering technology and investments. He still has time for freelance assignments. He lives in Atlanta.
Andrew McDonald is a healthcare investment professional with expertise in identifying transformative medicines as well as in forecasting clinical trial, regulatory, and sales outcomes. Prior to co-founding LifeSci Advisors, Andrew most recently served as senior biotechnology analyst at Great Point Partners, a dedicated life science hedge fund. From 2004-2006, Andrew was Co-head of Healthcare Research and Biotechnology Analyst at ThinkEquity Partners, a boutique investment bank. Prior to entering the financial services industry, Andrew was a medicinal chemist at Cytokinetics from 2001-2004, where he discovered and developed a promising anti-cancer agent now in clinical trials. Andrew began his pharmaceutical career as a medicinal chemist at Pfizer from 2000-2001. Andrew received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from UC Irvine and completed his B.S. in chemistry at UC Berkeley.
I hold BS degrees in Biology and Environmental Policy in addition to an M.Ed in Science Education. I have experience as a researcher in the biotech sector. Currently, I teach Biology courses as well as publish articles and research in the fields of science, education and public policy.
The Burrill Report is written for everyone who wants to understand how biotechnology operates as a business. Each month the publication focuses on the health of the industry and the strategies that will be needed to be successful. It provides actionable market intelligence on the latest global developments and trends in the life sciences industry. Available monthly, subscribers also benefit from monthly and quarterly market financial and business statistics on:
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In addition, BR provides in-depth coverage on specific sectors of life sciences including: Personalized Medicine; Diagnostics, Medical Devices and Biogreentech (Ag-Bio and Biofuels/Bioenergy). Through weekly Burrill Indices, the progress and prospects of biotech companies by size, from small through to blue-chip are also tracked.
Visit: The Burrill Report to obtain your sample issue (http://www.burrillreport.com/)
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.
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Team StockMatusow.com research and writers are:
Scott Matusow; Team Leader, owner and founder of StockMatusow.com and Dan Cohen, partner, and independent investor/scientist/inventor/trader and lead contributor at stockmatusow.com.
Scott is an independent investor/writer/trader and team leader of StockMatusow.com.
He has have about 17 years of stock market experience which include trading, investing, and managing his family’s trust as well as his personal account.
Scott has had the most success in trading/investing in smaller cap growth companies. Because Scott is not 'officially trained' in the markets, he see things outside the box, using his experience to provide clarity and alpha. Scott uses his ability to read situations, emotion, charts, times and sales, historical data, and macroeconomic and other market forces to predict stock price movements, in both short and longer terms situations.. Using these acquired allowed for him to completely divest his own and family's money near the top of the market before the 2008 financial crisis.
Dan Cohen is a partner at stockmatusow and entrepreneur in the fields of nanotechnology, medical diagnostics, and energy storage. Additionally, Dan is a Scientist and inventor. He has 7 years of experience investing and trading biotechnology focused equities with a specialty in identifying under-appreciated value in small caps. Dan utilizes his experience reading and reviewing scientific literature to evaluate prospects for success. His work with diagnostics development give him a strong background in immunology which is leveraged in evaluating immunoncology focused approaches. As well Dan has 5 years trading futures, specializing in E-minis and Treasury products. He utilizes a combination of technical analysis, deep scientific research, and macro views to generate alpha for the team.
Places you can follow Scott are:
Places to follow Dan are:
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Bill Gunderson @billgunderson is the CEO and Chief Market Strategist of Gunderson Capital Managment in San Diego, CA.
He is also a professional money manager, former research analyst, author of Best Stocks Now, and developer of the Best Stocks Now smartphone app.
He offers four free weeks to his weekly Best Stocks Now to Seeking Alpha readers at gundersoncapital.com
He also hosts a daily stock market radio show that is syndicated nationwide on the Salem Broadcast Network.
Bill has appeared on the Fox Business Channel and on Bloomberg Radio numerous times .His articles have been published in Barron's, Forbes, TheStreet.com and numerous other publications.
He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling (855)611-BEST.
An insider’s view on tech M&A transactions and trends, Inorganic Growth covers the numbers as well as the story behind them. Brenon Daly is the primary writer, with insights from across 451 Research. Hundreds of more in-depth M&A analysis reports and data can be found in 451 Research's subscriber-only Market Insight Serivce. Our M&A numbers come from The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase — a proprietary database of all tech deals since Jan. 1, 2002, sorted into more than 650 industry categories. The KnowledgeBase includes proprietary data on deal values and/or trailing revenues for key private M&A transactions. To request more information about our M&A research services, please go to the following URL: http://www.the451group.com/apply/apply.php?apply_page_id=604
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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.
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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.
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I research early (micro cap) and mid phase publicly traded companies in the Biotechnology and Medical Device sectors that are harder to at times find information on for investors. I believe that these companies, although potentially more volatile than their larger cap retail counterparts, hold great value. With a clear understanding of where their product is positioned in the market, the capitalization and the team, these smaller companies can hold incredible value over the long term.
I have a varied background in both business and in the technical sector. Currently, I also am a co founder of BCN Biosciences in Pasadena CA, a privately held biotechnology company in addition to holding a research faculty position at the University of California Los Angeles Department of Radiation Oncology.
During the IPO season Francis Gaskins, editor of IPOdesktop.com & director of research for Equities.com, regularly appears on CNBC TV, Bloomberg, thestreet.com & other financial cable channels. On the day of the Visa IPO he appeared on four cable TV financial shows including Bloomberg & CNBC.
Over the past five years he has been quoted over 500 times by such financial media as the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, USA Today among others. Those quotes are available at IPOdesktop.com.
His varied personal interests include violin playing. For example, he is concertmaster of the Palisades Symphony. He also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School (finance) and an AB from Princeton University (economics).
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.
Author of the critically acclaimed book, "Taking Charge With Value Investing (McGraw-Hill, 2013)" and the premium subscription service "Tipping The Scale" (as seen below). An analyst that ranks in the top 4% on both tipranks.com and Motley Fool CAPS for stock picking performance.
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Mr. Becker has more than 15-years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, C-level industry executive, drug developer, Wall Street securities analyst and registered financial advisor. He is also an online communications pioneer, popular blogger, and a sought-after speaker at industry events.
Before establishing MD Becker Partners LLC (www.mdbpartners.com) in 2008, he served as president, chief executive officer, and member of the Board of Directors for several publicly-traded biotechnology companies including commercial-stage Cytogen Corporation (acquired by EUSA Pharma) and development-stage VioQuest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
While at Cytogen, Mr. Becker held positions of increasing responsibility, including Vice President of Business Development, Industry Relations, Investor Relations and Chief Executive Officer of AxCell Biosciences, a subsidiary of Cytogen focused on signal transduction pathways. During his tenure at Cytogen, Mr. Becker raised in excess of $130 million in new capital through both public offerings and private placements and in-licensed Caphosol(c), a topical oral agent and prescription medical device for the treatment of oral mucositis and xerostomia.
Prior to joining Cytogen, Mr. Becker was with Wayne Hummer Investments LLC, a Chicago-based regional brokerage firm, where he held senior positions as a biotechnology securities analyst, financial advisor and portfolio manager. He was also the founder and Executive Editor of Beck on Biotech, a monthly biotechnology investment newsletter published from July 1998 through March 2001. Mr. Becker was previously with Kidder, Peabody & Co., Gruntal & Co., L.L.C., and Kemper Securities. He has previously held the following financial licenses: Series 7 (Registered Representative), Series 16 (Securities Analyst), Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent) and Series 65 (Registered Investment Advisor).
Mr. Becker plays an active leadership role as an advocate for the biotechnology industry. He is past Chairman and member of the board of trustees with BioNJ, which is New Jersey's trade association for biotechnology companies, and is currently a member of BioNJ, Pennsylvania Bio, the New Jersey Technology Council (NJTC), and the Pharmaceutical Consulting Consortium, Inc. (PCCI). Mr. Becker placed as a biotechnology/life sciences finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in both 2004 and 2005 and was listed in BusinessWeek's "CEO's 40 and Under" article in December 2006. He attended DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.
MD Becker Partners newsletter site can be found at: http://lifesciencedigest.com
I provide stock and bond analysis to a small cap specialist investor. For my own account I invest mainly in technology and biotechnology stocks. My technology and investment web site is openicon.com. I still enjoy IT consulting and always have some sort of R&D project going on.
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.