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
I participate in Angel Investing and Venture Capital transactions. I have four years of experience in the Capital Markets. This includes, as a Qualified Investor, Angel Investing, Private Equity, Portfolio Management and Equity Trading. I achieved a Bachelors Degree in Business Finance at the University of Northern Colorado.
My preferred method of contact is via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am an activist investor in US and Chinese stocks. I was previously an investment banker in New York Hong Kong and London for 9 years, focused on Equity Capital Markets. I look at both long ideas and short ideas and typically focus on a small number on names where I can spend the time to conduct very deep research. I spend my time living between Los Angeles and Beijing, China.
I worked almost 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry. I started as a sales rep after earning my degree in biological sciences and (later) biomedical sciences. I then went back to school, got my MBA, and spent the following 20 years working up the ranks. I spent the latter parts of my career working as an analyst, meaning I would analyze data on 1,000s of compounds, collect reports from scientists, and then present the information to those who decided whether the candidates would go on to clinical trials (additional preclinical studies) or would be thrown to the dumpster for some small company to find and develop further. I have worked in just about every department in the pharmaceutical industry, including biotechnology, oncology, infectious disease, genetics, etc.
Now that I am recently retired, I have joined Seeking Alpha to share my knowledge of the healthcare industry, and discuss trends that I've seen throughout my career. I have chosen the task of managing my own retirement accounts, therefore Seeking Alpha has become a great interest to me.
I am hoping to learn and teach via Seeking Alpha. Also, my grandchildren call me Shennie so that's what I go by these days
I run an equity research training program with a focus on the practical application of financial modeling, company and industry analysis.
Visit www.quadrantskewcapital.com for more details
Contact me at email@example.com
I am an accountant by profession but as a finance student have always taken a keen interest in the financial markets. Through Seeking Alpha I want to earn, and also, educate myself on the latest trends and methods of financial investing.
Travis primarily invests in smid-cap stocks for long term positions, but partakes in some event driven activity: IPO, biotech run-ups, etc. As an investor, he is looking for value stocks that Mr. Market has overlooked (J.Greenblatt).
With a professional background from public school teaching to government investigation; he utilizes a multifaceted writing and research discipline.
Twitter: DIY_S_Investor StockTwits: DIY_Stock_Investor Website: DIY Stock Investor
The Life Sciences Report features leading investment coverage of the life sciences sector, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, tools & diagnostics, and medical devices. A Streetwise Reports publication. www.TheLifeSciencesReport.com
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.
Leigh Drogen is the Founder and CEO of Estimize. Estimize is an open financial estimates platform which facilitates the aggregation of fundamental estimates from independent, buy-side, and sell-side analysts, along with those of industry experts, private investors and students. By sourcing estimates from a diverse community of individuals, Estimize provides both a more accurate and more representative view of expectations compared to sell side only data.
Leigh started his career as a quant trader at Geller Capital, a White Plains, NY based fund where he ran strategies that looked at earnings acceleration and analyst estimate revision models, as well as price momentum and several sentiment indicators.
Leigh later went on to be the founder of Surfview Capital, a New York based asset management firm that used many of the same strategies as Geller Capital, with a focus on higher beta names on an intermediate term time frame.
His educational background includes focus in economics and international relations, specifically war theory. He is a graduate with honors from Hunter College in New York City.
You can contact Leigh by emailing him at Leigh@estimize.com
Editor for The Biotech Forum (www.biotechforumsa.com), the #2 subscribed to Marketplace investment service offered through SeekingAlpha. Top 5% ranked analyst (TipRanks) 2013 through first half of 2015. Daily contributor for Real Money Pro. Hedge fund manager from 2008 to 2011. Previously technology executive at Fortune 100 firm for a decade. For Free weekly investment reports on small, attractive biotech stocks just register at www.bretjenseninvests.com
Renaissance Capital is an IPO investment advisory firm providing pre-IPO institutional research and management of IPO-focused funds including the Renaissance IPO ETF (NYSE ticker: IPO), the Renaissance International IPO ETF (NYSE ticker: IPOS) and the Global IPO Mutual Fund (ticker: IPOSX). Through Renaissance Capital’s pre-IPO research service, investors get a hard-nosed, independent opinion, in-depth fundamental analysis and customizable financial models on all IPOs. The Firm's clients also gain access to the premier IPO knowledge base with deal calendars, market commentary, fundamental data on over 5,000 past IPOs and more.
Sharon di Stefano has spent 20 years as an analyst, beginning her career at Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. specializing in medical devices, pharmaceuticals, healthcare information technology, and biopharmacology. Ms. di Stefano had also served as Senior Venture Officer for the Edison Innovation Fund, implemented through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority that provided funding for early-stage life sciences companies. Industry experience includes laboratory research for Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Department of Defense.
Ms. di Stefano received a Masters of Science degree, in Business, from Johns Hopkins University in 1986, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Delaware in 1984 with a minor in biology.
Bachar Samawi is Founder of Bachar Samawi Ventures (http://www.samawi.net).
Bachar Samawi has 29-years international experience in finance, trading, new business development, private equity and investment management, spanning multiple sectors including Banking, Energy, Technology, Agro, Industry, Healthcare and Real Estate.
As Chief investment Officer for one of Qatar Holding’s international $5 Billion subsidiary partnerships (Qatar Holding / Qatar Investment Authority is the $250 Billion Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund), Mr. Samawi was primarily responsible for evaluating and determining investment opportunities (which include Healthcare, Banking, Energy, Agriculture, and other), as well as launching projects with expected private equity requirement in excess of $100 Million per project. To such effect, Mr. Samawi deployed his Wall Street experience to lead meetings and negotiations with all stakeholders, including government officials and ministers, major banks, investors, financiers, international organizations, global corporations, diplomatic missions, and more.
As Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors and Managing Partner for Caltech Developments Limited - Your Global Partner in Energy, Mr. Samawi led strategy & structuring on multi-billion dollar long-term crude oil refining supply negotiations.
Mr. Samawi held senior level positions with multi-Billion dollar institutions in the USA and the Middle East including National Energy Group in the Washington DC area (non-regulated subsidiary of $18 Billion Pacific Gas & Electric), where he built the power trading department, Sanwa-BGK in New York (US Primary Dealership subsidiary of Sanwa Bank, which later merged with Tokai Bank and Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group, to become today’s $75 Billion Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group), where he co-founded the Fixed Income OTC Options department, and other international holding companies (diversified in Banking, Industry, Real Estate, Services and Trade).
His responsibilities included launching new businesses, setting up departments generating income in excess of $100 Million annually, negotiating and securing partnerships with Top Five international conglomerates in Energy and Finance, advising Board of Directors on Strategic Ventures, acting as Interim CEO, trouble-shooting and turning around struggling businesses, optimizing financial and real estate portfolios, and more.
Samawi graduated from Yale University with a double major in Computer Science and Economics. He has also completed numerous certifications in Finance and Management & Leadership training and is fluent in English, French and Arabic. Samawi has also authored numerous articles and white papers, and has given speeches throughout the world including France, Germany and the USA.
I added stock and bond analysis to my IT consulting business at the request of a small cap investment specialist in 2002. For my own account I invest mainly in technology and biotechnology stocks, but occasionally I invest in industrial, retail and other 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.
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.
Tipping the Scale members gain access to the TTS Portfolio Tracker. Here, members see what I am buying and selling the minute it happens, along with what I have owned, bought, and sold historically. These are just a few of the features on the TTS Portfolio Tracker.
Tipping The Scale is an equity research platform that uses a numeric scale instead of the traditional "Buy, Hold, Sell" to identify the best investment opportunities in the market. Stock coverage is determined by market catalyst, and every company goes through a vigorous test in 10 different categories. The higher the total score, the bigger the upside. In addition, Tipping the Scale also provides a number of portfolio strategies to hedge the volatility of the market and protect from downside.
Check out my instablog for more information on the popular research service Tipping the Scale, including performance information, benefits, and how it all works.
Hunter graduated with a Bachelors in Economics from the University of South Florida. He followed up with a Master's in Finance from the University of Tampa. During those years he earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
Alpha Street Research is a leading and award winning equity research firm. Our unbiased actionable and quantitative research helps investors identify individual equity opportunities and marco market opinions.
visit the site www.AlphaStreetResearch.com to learn more about the audited performance of the Alpha Street Research ranking system.
Harry Long is the inventor of Hedged Contango Capture and Hedged Convexity Capture and is the Managing Partner of ZOMMA, the world's most innovative strategy index creator.
Mr. Long is a globally recognized expert on the research and development of quantitative investment strategies. The ZOMMA IP portfolio of strategy indices is sought after by asset management firms, investment banks, hedge funds, principal trading organizations, index providers, ETP sponsors, and private equity firms to help them develop and deploy active manager-crushing quantitative investment strategies.
ZOMMA helps investors create long term value by replacing reckless emotional decision making with cutting-edge technology based upon objective evidence.
Mr. Long is a graduate of Rice University with a B.A. in Economics.
Note: Due to the sheer number of requests for bespoke quant strategies, research projects, and quant consulting services, we have instituted the following pricing for the non-exclusive licensing of our algorithms to institutions:
I. Exclusive commercial licenses for unique bespoke algorithms run six figures and up.
II. Non-exclusive AUM licensing fees for our strategy indices run 10 basis points and up for commercial licenses.
Please realize that we often get more than 3,000 e-mails per week. This means that we read everything that comes in, but we cannot respond to any email or message that does not include the sender's full name, phone number, request, and budget. Thank you for your understanding.
This Dubai-like pricing is necessary, because we can't freely give answers to tough problems which we have dedicated massive R&D capital to solving. World-class statistical talent is hugely expensive, valuable, and rare. Our clients recognize that outsourcing quant work to our firm and paying our fees represent a huge cost savings over hiring full time employees, and usually results in a far more profitable, turn-key solution.
Simple qualitative analysis is a key component of every investment thesis. I am particularly good at keeping it simple and to the point. My analysis focuses on finding undervalued opportunity in growth industries. I am a long term investor working to buy great companies with a great story at a great price.
StockMatusow.com Writers are:
Scott Matusow; Team Leader, owner and founder of StockMatusow.com.
Scott is an independent investor/writer/trader and team leader of StockMatusow.com.
He has have about fifteen 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.' Scott uses his ability to read situations and emotion, charts, times and sales, historical data, and macroeconomic and other market forces to predict stock price movements. Using these allowed for him to completely divest his own and family's money near the top of the market before the 2008 financial crisis.
Scott has his own online talk show which can be heard at www.scottmatusow.com/radio .
During market hours, we engage in talk about Stocks and Politics. After hours, Scott engages in a variety of talk issues from Poker, Sports, Politics, Current Events and whatever the chat room people wish to talk about.
Other places you can follow Scott are:
Kyle Dennis; writer, analyst, trader, website design, and team member of Stockmatusow.com.
Kyle has a Biology degree from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and specializes in trading the biotechnology sector.
Kyle has extensive experience in researching, writing, and editing articles that have been published in scientific journals. He uses these experiences to write and comment about the potential of various biotechnology companies. Kyle specializes in evaluating trial success, drug potential, and market valuations.
As an investor/trader, Kyle likes to focus on chart analysis and investor/trader sentiment to identify good entry and exit points.
Kyle can also be followed at www.twitter.com/kylewdennis @kylewdennis
Michael Kovar; writer, editor, investor, trader and team member of stockmatusow.com
Michael has spent over ten years in financial roles with companies large and small. Recently, he spent time in a consulting role with Thomson Reuters legal headquarters in Eagan, MN. He currently works in an analyst position with a healthcare organization. Since 2011, Michael has worked with Scott Matusow to help research and edit articles for Stockmatusow.com.
Michael can be followed at www.twitter.com/MMK_3399 @MMK_3399
Peter Geschek is a freelance writer, investor and the publisher of www.medfrontiers.com website. This is a site for medical innovation news and clinical trials news. Short, concise, important information about the latest is biotech and pharmaceuticals.
Alan Kotok is a Washington, DC-based reporter and writer on science, technology, business, and public policy, and editor and publisher of Science and Enterprise, a news blog on the value chain connecting scientific discovery with the marketplace. Kotok previously was managing editor of Science Careers, the online employment, career development, and funding portal of Science Magazine.
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.