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
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The Clinically Sound Investor is a pharmacist for a large retail corporation, with a PharmD and a BA in psychology. Fascinated by watching the rise of Walmart and Apple after 2008, he now follows the advice "know thyself" and puts expertise of understaning scientific literature to research biotechnology stocks. His investments early on were driven by binary events such as FDA Advisory Committee meetings and PDUFA dates (approvals). Despite initial successes, there were too few of these events, so he expanded into predicting Phase II/III trial results.
His writings should not be considered financial advice or the basis for investment decisions. While his interpretations of clinical trial results--which may be overlooked or even thoroughly misunderstood by Wall Street--could be helpful, they're only as good as the original reports they come from. Although written by scientists and doctors, there will always be a slant from the sponsoring company, or worse (like, say, missing data...).
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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.
Graduate of Cornell University, 1958. Graduate Fellow, Univ of Chicago 1958-60.
Received Doctor of Laws degree from New York University School of Law, 1976. Have practiced litigation from 1976 until retirement in 2010. Have been an active stock investor since 1964,and active theatrical investor and producer since 2010.
Non-fiction editor of Playboy (1959-60). U.S.Army, chief of gun crew on atomic cannon (1960-61 + 7 yrs active reserves). Picture story editor of Argosy Magazine (1961-65) .Co-leader of the Trans-World Record Expedition (1965-66) and co-author of Who Needs A Road. Creative director and ad agency VP (1967-72). Legislative Director of Citizens Union and Common Cause, Albany, NY (1972-74). Practiced law, 1976-2009 with focus on civil litigation... . .
We employ a long/short equity strategy and are flexible, opportunistic investors. This allows us to take advantage of the best opportunities available in the market at any given time. We are most often involved in small cap and special situations. Not currently active on the Seeking Alpha platform.
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Philip R. Davis is a founder of Phil's Stock World (www.philstockworld.com), a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders. Mr. Davis is a serial entrepreneur, having founded software company Accu-Title, a real estate title insurance software solution, and is also the President of the Delphi Consulting Corp., an M&A consulting firm that helps large and small companies obtain funding and close deals. He was also the founder of Accu-Search, a property data corporation that was sold to DataTrace in 2004 and Personality Plus, a precursor to eHarmony.com. Phil was a former editor of a UMass/Amherst humor magazine and it shows in his writing -- which is filled with colorful commentary along with very specific ideas on stock option purchases (Phil rarely holds actual stocks).
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SoundView conducts research and analysis on emerging technologies and companies for investors. The director of research, Kris Tuttle, has over 32 years of hands-on work in technology, business and markets. Early in his career Kris was an AI researcher at Carnegie Mellon University and spent 8 years with IBM developing and implementing new "bleeding edge" technologies in multiple industries.
Later he obtained an MBA in finance and moved into institutional sales at UBS and then equity research at SoundView Technology Group where he eventually came to run research there before being acquired by Charles Schwab in 2003. While at SoundView his name was closely associated with companies like Atria Software, Rational Software, BEA Systems, Business Objects, and Netscape and he was recognized by institutional investors as the "most informed, independent and money-making analyst in the market."
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John is a lawyer and accountant with over three decades of corporate finance, due diligence, M&A advisory and related legal services for manufacturers, innovators and investors in the energy storage and renewable energy sectors.
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Alan Brochstein, CFA, was the first investment professional to devote himself to sharing his observations about the cannabis industry from an investor's perspective publicly. He runs 420 Investor, a subscription-based due diligence platform for investors interested in the publicly-traded cannabis stocks and is also the founder of New Cannabis Ventures, a content aggregation site focused on investors and entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry.
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Damien Hoffman, Esq. decided to launch a financial website and exclusive subscription-based newsletter after achieving a 63% return versus a -48% return for the S&P over a nearly two year time frame as a co-founder of popular stock blog SmartGuyStocks (member of the Forbes Business and Finance Blog Network, and certified by Seeking Alpha). Mr Hoffman is currently Editor-in-Chief of Wall St. Cheat Sheet and trades full-time. After graduating early with honors from Duke University, he raised private equity with friends during the late Nineties to launch a successful start-up. Mr. Hoffman went on to work for boutique sports investment bank Inner Circle LLP where he worked on the sale of the NBA franchise New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn real estate development firm Forest City Ratner Companies (NYSE: FCE-A). Mr. Hoffman also graduated with honors from the University of Miami School of Law as a Dean’s Merit Scholar. He clerked at the Florida Supreme Court for the Honorable Justice Kenneth Bell and Central Staff. In 2006 at Harvard Law School he gave a guest lecture entitled, “Business and Law in the New Independent Music Industry.”
Derek Hoffman joined efforts with his brother to launch Wall St. Cheat Sheet after a decade of investing experience and outperforming the S&P 500 over the past 5 years. Mr. Hoffman is currently the CEO of Wall St. Cheat Sheet and trades full-time. He is a regular contributor to CNNMoney. His long-term investments and short-term trades have yielded extraordinarily successful results: double digit annual returns. Mr. Hoffman has handled media investment and tactical strategy planning for Procter & Gamble and Gillette’s national asset portfolio. He has also worked in private wealth management for Morgan Stanley. Mr. Hoffman graduated early from the University of Michigan’s world class economics department.
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I write The 5th Column, a weekly research product which goes to a number of institutional clients around the world. I seek to supply my clients with heretical opinions and facts that can give them a more informed view of the world. 5th Columnideas is completely independent and therefore does not have to provide research that requires the approval of corporate financiers, or dissenting colleagues.
Gary Tanashian is proprietor of NFTRH.com and Biiwii.com. Actionable, hype-free technical, macro economic and sentiment analysis is provided in the premium market report 'Notes From the Rabbit Hole' (http://nftrh.com/nftrh-premium/). Complimentary analysis and commentary is available at the public site (http://nftrh.com), at http://biiwii.com and by email with our free - and spam free - eLetter service (http://nftrh.com/free-eletter/).
The Oil & Gas Investments Bulletin (http://www.oilandgas-investments.com) is an online subscription-based service that finds, researches, and profiles growing oil and gas companies that have high growth rates (or high growth potential.)
Its team of writers work under Keith Schaefer, Editor/Publisher, who shares his knowledge of the oil and natural gas markets in a simple, easy to read manner. The bulletin outlines which TSX, NYSE and NASD-listed energy companies have the ability to grow, and bring shareholders prosperity even in tough times.
There is tremendous potential to profit in oil and gas companies for informed investors. Mr. Schaefer has a degree in journalism but has spent the last 15 years assisting public resource companies in raising exploration and expansion capital.
Jim Van Meerten is an advisor to Marketocracy Capital Management and writes on financial subjects here and on Barchart Portfolio Blogs and Seeking Alpha. He earned a BS in Accounting and Business Administration from Berry College; a Juris Doctorate from the Woodrow Wilson School of Law; and attended post-baccalaureate and graduate courses in Business Administration, Quantitative Math, and Education at Florida Atlantic University, Georgia State University and University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In the past he has been an accountant, attorney, adjunct professor in Business Law, Accounting and Internal Auditing, financial advisor, supervisory principal, and compliance officer. He also passed the Georgia CPA Exam, the Certified Internal Auditor Exam, and the FINRA Series 7, 24 and 9/10 exams.He is presently also a contributor on MSN Top Stocks Blog, Motley Fool and is a member of the M100 on Marketocracy, an elete honor chosen by the editors of Marketocracy as being in the top 100 portfolio managers of over 100,000 portfoiios they review. He would enjoy hearing your comments at JimVanMeerten@gmail.com.
Marco is a trader of stocks, options, currencies, and futures. He has been fascinated with the financial markets ever since he bought his first stock at 11 years old. Marco entered the business world at the age of 13, with the creation of an extremely successful retail website (GoldenAgeCheese.com), that of which he still has a major role in today. Marco writes about stocks and options whenever he gets the chance. He's dedicated to educate his readers to the best of his ability about the financial markets, particularly about buying/selling options and different strategies. 2008 was one of the most profitable years trading stocks and options for Marco. He trades based on technicals and fundamentals, so you may find many of his posts valuable.
Momentum Trader/Technical Trader. Move fast when an opportunity arises, cut losers fast to protect from losses, keep risk low, play the odds when in your favor, don't feel obligated to buy as that will ruin your mindset. Plenty of opportunities out there, don't let yourself feel rushed.
Business Owner/Entrepreneur first, Trader second, author third. This business limits my ability to trade, so not as as many articles and updates as some of you were used to in previous years.
Website being rebooted & launched in 2016.
Mike Kudrna and the information on his blog are for educational purposes only. You should speak to your own financial advisor before making any decisions based on Mr. Kudrna’s opinions. Mr. Kudrna is not responsible for any actions you take upon reading his perspective and opinion. Keep in mind that positions that Mr. Kudrna has can change at any time without written notice.