Mr. Roche is the founder of Orcam Financial Group, LLC, a low fee financial services firm based in San Diego, CA as well as the founder of the popular financial website Pragmatic Capitalism (some articles from Pragmatic Capitalism get syndicated on Seeking Alpha so please see the full site if you don't want to miss articles by Mr. Roche).
Orcam Financial Group, LLC (www.orcamgroup.com) is a low fee financial services firm offering asset management, personal advisory, consulting and educational services. Pragmatic Capitalism (http://pragcap.com) was founded by Cullen Roche in the midst of the financial crisis of 2008. Mr. Roche foresaw many of the events that led up to the crisis and felt that the government was slow to react and when it did finally react, responded with the wrong medicine.
Mr. Roche's primary areas of expertise include global macro portfolio construction, quantitative risk management, monetary economics and behavioral finance. Prior to establishing his own business, Mr. Roche worked at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management where he worked on a team overseeing $500MM+ in assets under management. Upon leaving Merrill Lynch, Mr. Roche managed a private investment partnership for 7 years generating substantial positive alpha (high risk adjusted returns) without a single negative year of returns. He has since transitioned back to retail asset management to better serve the much needed low fee retail space with sophisticated but simple asset management and financial planning services.
Mr. Roche is also a prolific writer. In addition to the daily musings on his website, he is the author of the popular book “Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Know About Money and Finance” as well as “Understanding the Modern Monetary System”, one of the top 10 all-time most downloaded research papers on the SSRN academic research network. He was named one of the “Top Wall Street Economists, Experts and Opinion Leaders” of 2011 by Wall Street Economists and was named one of the “101 Best Finance People” by Business Insider where he was described as “one of the most influential economic thinkers today.” In 2015 Mr. Roche was named one of the “40 Under 40” most influential people in finance by InvestmentNews. He is regularly cited in the Wall Street Journal, on CNBC and in the Financial Times.
Mr. Roche is a Georgetown University alumnus, growing up in the DC area and now living in Southern California with his wife Erica, troublesome collie Cal and 4 irritable laying hens. In addition to being a financial dork Cullen is an avid outdoorsman, mediocre gardener, proficient complex carbohydrate consumer (i.e., loves brownies and cake) and finisher of one of the most difficult IRONMAN races at Cabo in 2015.
According to Greek mythology, Glaucus, a god of the sea blessed with the power of prophecy, frequently came to the rescue of distressed sailors and fisherman. We founded Glaucus Research Group California LLC (a California Limited Liability Company) to help capital markets investors navigate treacherous financial waters in search of great investment opportunities.
A*L was established in 2010 by Jon Carnes, a growth and value-oriented investor who lived for six years (from 2005 to 2011) in China where he researched and invested in dozens of Chinese companies, first long (2005-2009) and then primarily short (2010-2012). Mr. Carnes outperformed other investors by performing extensive “on the ground” due diligence, conducted by a team of experienced analysts and local researchers. His investment opinions were greatly respected by other China focused fund managers attracted to the booming economy but wary of getting duped.
Over several years of scrutinizing over a hundred companies in every corner of China, Mr. Carnes realized that many of those that had gone public were seriously exaggerating their financial performance in their SEC filings. Investors raced to invest billions into Chinese companies that were dishonest and legally accountable to no one, a recipe for disaster for investors, both large and small.
Deciding to take action, Mr. Carnes decided to publicly expose the most egregious frauds he had discovered over the years, focusing on the worst offenders: companies that had exaggerated their profitability by at least 100%. In February 2010, he published a series of reports titled “Management Leaving Investors Stuck at the Pumps” showing that China Natural Gas (formerly NASDAQ: CHNG) management defrauded investors by failing to disclose and likely misappropriating $20 million from an acquisition of an undisclosed related party.
Unfortunately, when CHNG discovered that Mr. Carnes wrote the reports, its chairman Qinan Ji responded by sending an agent to threaten him where he lived in China. Frightened by Ji’s threat, Mr. Carnes removed the reports from the Internet. From this point onward Mr. Carnes knew that publishing the truth while living in China might get him killed.
Mr. Carnes nevertheless chose to remain in China to continue exposing fraud. Knowing that the safety of his researchers depended upon absolute secrecy and anonymity, he published my reports anonymously online using the obvious pseudonym “Alfred Little.” Beginning with CHNG, over the next two years Mr. Carnes exposed a diverse array of investment fraud committed by a U.S. listed Chinese companies.
After two years, CHNG Chairman Qinan Ji’s effort to conceal his fraud finally failed. On 9/21/11 NASDAQ halted trading of CHNG and on 3/8/12 CHNG was delisted. Most importantly, on 5/14/12 the SEC filed fraud charges against CHNG and its Chairman Qinan Ji.
Two more of the companies that Mr. Carnes first exposed faced the same fate. On 2/22/12 the SEC charged Puda Coal (formerly AMEX: PUDA) Chairman Ming Zhao with fraud, confirming each of the allegations in his 4/8/11 report, “Puda Coal Chairman Secretly Sold Half the Company and Pledged the Other Half to Chinese PE Investors.”
Then on 4/23/12 the SEC charged SinoTech Energy (formerly NASDAQ: CTE) and two of its officers with fraud. On 8/16/11, Mr. Carnes was the first to blow the whistle exposing CTE’s massive fraud in a report titled “SinoTech Energy: Enhanced Oil Recovery or Capital Extraction.” Unlike other numerous smaller “reverse merger” frauds, Sinotech was a $168 million IPO listed on NASDAQ underwritten by UBS and Lazard Capital Markets and audited by Ernst & Young.
Three companies, Deer Consumer Products (“DEER”), Sino Clean Energy (“SCEI”) and Silvercorp Metals (“SVM”) criticized in reports published by A*L sued Mr. Carnes for defamation. The three companies coordinated their legal and retaliatory efforts, both in the U.S., Canada and China to silence Mr. Carnes.
The epic battle that followed ended swiftly in a complete rout. NASDAQ delisted DEER and SCEI. SVM and DEER both lost their defamation claims against Mr. Carnes. SCEI abandoned its defamation claim against Mr. Carnes.
After winning the battle against DEER, SCEI and SVM, A*L emerged with the best track record of any China focused investment blog.
I am a research analyst for a long/short value-oriented hedge fund. Most of my attention is focused on the tech, telecom and media sectors although I occasionally look for value (or its opposite) in other areas.
Note that I take long and short positions in the stocks I discuss on Seeking Alpha. Although I disclose my positions at the time of publication, these may change at any time without notice. Nothing I write should be construed as investment advice or a recommendation to buy or sell specific securities. Please do your own research and/or consult with a financial adviser. While everything I write is factually correct to the best of my knowledge, I encourage you to notify me in the comments section when you think I may be in error.