Over 20 years experience in various financial roles. Positions included Financial Consultant with A.G. Edwards and Sons, Hedge Fund Manager for the Abacus Small Cap Growth Fund. More recently, full time focus is on investing/trading undervalued companies within strong secular industries.
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“one of the last great advocates of reason”
We manage a hedge fund that utilizes value investing principles and rigorous analysis.
Prospective investors, financial reporters, etc. can reach us using the Seeking Alpha messaging platform.
I focus on the microcap space (market cap below $250 million) because it is one of the most inefficient and "alpha rich" areas of the global equity market, which provides the greatest opportunity to generate alpha through fundamental research.
I use a bottom up, investment decision making process. The ideal investment has an asymmetric risk/return profile with a limited downside (e.g. high net cash balance, strong cash flow) and significant upside (e.g. asset value extraction, overlooked business model transition).
Microcaps are particularly attractive to the following groups:
Activist investors. A small absolute investment (on a dollar basis) can be leveraged into a relatively large position (as a percentage of shares outstanding), which provides a greater ability to demand change.
Private equity firms. The persistent microcap discount can be “arbed away” via an LBO with the new owners accruing all of the gains for themselves. The small absolute size of many microcaps on an EV basis significantly expands the number of firms able to pursue this strategy.
This inefficiency exists for several reasons.
A lack of analyst coverage due to lower trading volume (less soft dollars from HF/MF), the global settlement that permanently severed the link between research/banking and the rise in electronic trading/decimalization. Moreover, none of these trends are likely to reverse for the foreseeable future (if ever).
A lack of institutional products given the natural capacity constraint for new/existing managers.
An inability to effectively implement a passive approach (e.g. ETFs, index funds) due to the lower liquidity and wider bid/ask spread. However, each of these obstacles can be overcome by using a combination of electronic trading tools (e.g. algos) and patience in building a positive size.
Inaccurate and persistent misconceptions about microcaps (e.g. they are riskier than larger cap stocks).
I currently trade for my personal account but would like to move into the investment management side of the industry.
Bay Area Biotech is a group of self-organized life science graduate/medical/business students and postdoctoral scholars who are interested in utilizing our scientific training to evaluate biotechnologies and identify investment opportunities. Opinions published here are those of the authors.
Hospital based interventional radiologist located in New London, CT. with special interest in event driven investing and biotechnology companies with breakthrough therapies.
Sheldon Robbins, M.D.
Lawrence and Memorial Hospital
Dept. of Radiology
365 Montauk Ave.
New London, CT 06320
I have written 2 dutch books on value investing (search bol.com for "ruerd heeg"). As a mathematician (Ph.D.) I use quantitative strategies with statistically extremely high returns: net-nets and companies with low Enterprise Value/Earnings before Tax & Interest (EV/EBIT). When ranking on several metrics the 30-50 best stocks have 20-30% average annual returns. Since such stocks are rare I invest globally. See my article "Use Your Extraordinary Edge With These 2 Investment Strategies" (author's picks left below). Get the free trial of my Marketplace newsletter to learn more.
I'm a value investor focused on buying companies trading below the intrinsic value.
I've a back ground in engineering & finance. I'm also a Chartered Financial Analyst. I did my MBA from Emory University's Goizueta School of Business
I am a highly trained professional equity analyst. My specialty is finding companies with excellent ratios of risk to reward. Before going independent, I was the head analyst at a boutique Israeli hedge fund. Today I am a consultant to several multibillion-dollar firms. I have covered many sectors, including technology, solar and semiconductors. I have learned to connect the dots and discern how forces in these various industries will affect individual companies. I am a big believer in analyzing investments from the top down. This means identifying themes and trends that can reveal where industries and individual companies will be in the future. There are no magic formulas for this process, just a lot of hard work. After I've found a company, analyzed it and concluded its value, then it is just like a poker game with endless cards. All we have to do is sit and wait for the next card to reveal itself and adjust our thesis accordingly. Once we find the true value of a company, we must ignore day-to-day market chaos. If we have done our research properly, we do not need to worry if the Dow goes up or down a particular day, week or month. Peter Lynch, Ben Graham and Phillip Fisher are my biggest influences. I encourage anyone who wishes to learn more about the market to read any of their books.
Mariusz Skonieczny is the founder and president of Classic Value Investors, He is also the author of several books on investing including Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market, The Basics of Understanding Financial Statements, Due Diligence: How to Research a Stock, 100 Ways to Find Investment Ideas, Investment Wisdom and Gold Production from Beginning to End.
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.
I currently work in the health care field. I am a long-term investor who conducts extensive research as part of my due diligence when considering a stock. My articles hope to provide unbiased background information to help others make an educated decision.
Although I recommend a diversified portfolio, I have a special interest in biomedical firms. Since biomedical investing is often very risky, I believe that research is especially important when investing in this industry. I find biomedical investing rewarding because these investments may not only yield high returns but also help save lives.
Eugene Eliot Narrett was born on December 27, 1948. He died on the night of December 6, 2013. Having just left an art gallery in Brattleboro, Vermont, where his paintings were on display, he crossed Union Street and was struck by a hit and run driver.
Professor Narrett was the first of five sons born to Dr. Sidney S. Narrett and Mrs. Beatrice Narrett.
Professor Narrett grew up in Passaic and Clifton, New Jersey. In 1963, at the age of fifteen, he won the Quality of Latin Certificate of Merit from the Philadelphia Classical Society. He attended Upper Montclair College High School and matriculated at Columbia University.
Professor Narrett graduated from Columbia in 1970 with a BA in Art History. He received his Masters degree with Honors in English and Comparative Literature in 1975 and his Ph.D in 1978 in these same disciplines all from Columbia University.
Professor Narrett’s dissertation on the Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Comedic Vision of Shelley's Poetry, was written under the Columbia University scholar and professor, Karl Kroeber, who taught for nearly half a century in the English and comparative literature department. At the time his dissertation was completed, Professor Kroeber labelled Eugene Narrett as the greatest interpreter of Shelley extant.
Professor Narrett had a thirty plus year experience as a College teacher and was a published author in comparative literature, poetry, and art criticism. In 2010, Professor Narrett published in the English-American Association Journal, Identity, Theft, and Image Play in Coleridge. In 2010, Professor Narrett also authored a series of essays on Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and other western authors commenting on the nature of Western culture and how their views make use of or reflect on the relation of Judaism to the West.
In addition, Professor Narrett was an exhibiting artist (1977-92) and had gallery shows in New York City, Boston, Cambridge and Maynard Massachusetts and most recently and fatefully in Brattleboro, Vermont. He was also an accomplished self-taught flute player who once entertained strollers in the parks of Salzburg, Austria.
Professor Narrett taught, designed, created and directed many Liberal Arts courses and programs in fields including Art, Art History, History, Literature and Philosophy. His wide-ranging knowledge of history and his ability to integrate disciplines provided a comprehensive overview and rare insight into the most challenging conflicts and currents of our times. He published extensively on American politics and culture and on geopolitics and the Middle East. He is the author of three books: Gathered against Jerusalem: Essays on a False Peace; Israel Awakened: a Chronicle of the Oslo War; and Israel and the Endtimes: writings on the logic and surface turbulence of History (2006).
For much of his published work and radio guest appearances please see Israelendtimes.com as well as Amazon.com.
On language please see: http://www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=narrette&date=060924
As interpreter of Shakespeare please see: http://israelendtimes.com/blog/2010/08/28/thoughts-from-shakespeare.htm
Professor Narrett’s lifetime of scholarship and effort to find the essence in human behavior, as manifested in literature, art, and geo-politics came to a corporeal conclusion on a dark night in December but he always carried and forever will his soul carry the banner of learning and knowledge.
Professor Narrett was survived by his son, Gabriel Narrett and four younger brothers, David, Zachary, Seth and Matthew.
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.
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.
Investing for about 25 years and enjoy analyzing companies, especially special situations. I live in the US, have a PhD in the biological sciences, with about 20 years experience In clinical development and commercialiation/marketing of Therapeutic biologics, small molecules, and medical devices.
As I have grown older, my philosophy has evolved from one of short-term trading, to finding stocks that can be held longer-term, preferably forever. I enjoy researching biotech stocks, but seldom invest here due to the volatility and risks. I rely on my own fundamental analysis but will also consider chart patterns when deciding opportunities to buy or sell. I always do my best to figure in investor & analyst psychology, and use basic financials to reassure me of my analysis (including mistakes) when volatility gets extreme. Do not consider myself to be an expert on technical analysis and as a scientist with training in statistics, am skeptical of that the historical movements of a stock can be used to reliably forecast buy/sell signals (if charting were that reliable as a predictive indicator, everyone would be using this to their advantage).
In addition to looking at company's financials, I like to consider companies that are positioned to capitalize on changing demographics (growing per capita income in developing countries, aging of America, obesity epidemic, etc.), and strongly prefer companies with a wide economic moat. I frequently sell covered calls to mitigate and take adtvantage of market volatility. When I find a high conviction company that I want to own, not infrequently I will sell naked puts to reduce my cost basis and generate some cash flow.
Private Investor with 10 years of biotech trading experience.
I use basic disciplined research approach to discover new investment ideas. Biotech sector is full of violent stock moves and trial failures. On one hand it requires traders to be quick on their feet and on the other hand it forces investors to have a great deal of patience.
I enjoy the challenge of mining for hidden gems, because its 10 times as hard to do that than predicting failures. Failure is the norm in biotech, I look for exception to the norm!
Grant Zeng has over 10 years of professional experience in equity research and analysis. Grant joined Zacks Investment Research Inc. in March 2006, and currently is a senior equity analyst covering biotech/pharma industry. Before joining Zacks, Grant worked for TheStreet.com as a biotech analyst from 2005-2006. From Sept 2001 to December 2003, Grant worked for China Pacific Insurance Co. as an senior equity/fund analyst. Grant was a healthcare equity analyst with Young & Partners, LLC from Aug 2000 to September 2001. Grant had also teaching and researching experience in pharmaceutical science.
Grant Zeng obtained his MBA with a major in Finance in 2000 from McMaster University, Canada. He also holds a Master of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Western Ontario, Canada; Master of Pharmacology and Bachelor of Medicine from Second Military Medical University, China.
Grant Zeng is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder.
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.
I am currently employed by a Fortune 20 company, on any given day I am assessing risk management and the financial health of various companies. My time is spent looking at charts and numbers all day and I specialize in statistical analysis. I use the writers of various finance sites for my investing ideas, then do my own research prior to investing.
Thanks to those of you that have given me feedback and responded to my messages. I have found the writers at Seeking Alpha to be very accommodating and informative.
Theodore J. Cohen, Ph.D., a research scientist, has been an investor for more than 50 years. Since 1980, he has focused his attention on investment research and investigative analyses of companies developing therapeutic drugs in the biotech sector. Dr. Cohen is a frequent contributor of Guest Opinions (op-ed pieces) to the Bucks County (PA) Courier Times (circulation: 80,000), where, since 2007, he has addressed such varied subjects as the conflicts of interest (COIs) associated with two members of the Provenge advisory committee (AC); the U.S. Senate’s Durbin Amendment, to tighten COI reviews of FDA AC members; and naked short selling. Cohen is the author of the award-winning novels Death by Wall Street: Rampage of the Bulls (AuthorHouse, 2010) and House of Cards: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Outskirts Press, 2011), which were inspired by real events. The books are available from Amazon.com, B&N, and 26,000 online bookstores worldwide. For details, see http://www.theodore-cohen-novels.com.
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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.
Mr. Axler is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Spruce Point Capital Management, an activist hedge fund manager. Mr. Axler also co-founded Prescience Point Research Group (2012-2014). Mr. Axler specializes in activist short-selling, forensic financial research, and has exposed over $1.0 billion of alleged listed frauds on Nasdaq and the NYSE. Prior to founding his company in 2009, Mr. Axler spent eight years as an investment banker with Credit Suisse and Barclays Capital where he structured and executed billions of dollars of financing, derivative risk management, and M&A deals for leading Fortune 500 clients.
Mr. Axler is a contributing writer to Seeking Alpha, has been profiled in Barrons, and in the book "The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work." Mr. Axler's short research has been profiled by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in an analysis entitled "How Constraining Are Limits to Arbitrage? Evidence from a Recent Financial Innovation," and shown to produce superior investment returns. In addition, according to a research study from Sumzero analyzing 12,000 analysts recommendations since 2009, Mr. Axler ranked #1 globally for idea performance. A recent analysis by Sentieo ranked Mr. Axler's @sprucepointcap profile the 13th most influential financial blogger on Twitter.
Mr. Axler graduated from Yale University with a masters degree in Statistics, and received both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Statistics and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Business Administration from Rutgers College, where he graduated with Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors.
Mr. Letourneau, PGeo is founder and editor of the Big Picture Speculator, and a professional registered geologist living in Calgary, Alberta, with over twenty years experience from the oil & gas sector. His unique perspective as a professional geologist, dynamic speaker, communicator and investor, is sought after as a valuable source of current information on ongoing developments from the oil & gas sector. Mr. Letourneau is frequently interviewed in the national media, including the CBC, Resource World Magazine, Business in Calgary Magazine, The Korelin Economics Report, SeekingAlpha.com, HoweStreet.com and Minyanville.com. He has nurtured a powerful social media web which integrates the power of web-based platforms, a captive email network, and his blog. Mr. Letourneau has served as an expert witness to Canada's National Energy Board, and has received several professional awards including the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists Link and Tracks Awards.
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.