One of my favorite boxers of all time is former heavyweight champ Larry Holmes. The "Easton Assassin" not only brought his A-game every time out, he was also brutally honest. So, it should come as no surprise that his local television show in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley area is called "What the Heck Were They Thinking?" That title came to mind recently after reading through some reader feedback, particularly the feedback from those who commented on my
You'll recall that
I took issue with the timing of Dynavax's hastily arranged offering of 6.2 million shares just hours before positive clinical trial data were published, news that sent the stock up 75% from the price at which the funding closed. I stated that it not only appeared the company left a lot of money on the table, as it knew the data were going to be released, but that it smelled of rewarding a few shareholders at the expense of all investors in the company.
I was quite surprised at how many readers jumped to Dynavax's defense, when (presumably) they were the ones getting slighted.
As a side note, let me attempt to put the conspiracy theories to rest. I don't own or short stocks, per
policy. I don't work for or with Jim Cramer, so he does not put me up to anything.
( TSCM) doesn't own stocks, so the company has no interest in driving a stock down in order to buy it at a lower price. I am not in cahoots with the shorts. While some of my sources are short, a fact I disclose if I quote them, I don't get paid or derive any benefit from working with them, other than to publish a strong story. Shorts tend to do a lot of homework on companies before they initiate positions.
B.H. and I had a lively debate that started with the typical conspiracy theory accusation but gradually became more civil.
"Don't you think it is more ethical and better perceived by real investors like myself to raise new funds, bring in new investors prior to a news story that would temporarily create an inflated stock price?"
I understand B.H.'s argument and might agree if the deal had been in the works for some time. But the transaction was arranged in 24 hours, after the company had been given notice that the
New England Journal of Medicine
would publish the data.
After I reiterated that point, B.H. replied:
"When ur sic a small r&d company and you'll most likely need more money in the future, it's sic important to be good to the hand that feeds you!"
So the reader believes it's OK to give away shareholders' equity because the company may need to raise more money in the future. If the company is so desperate for capital that it needs to curry that kind of favor with a few select investors, perhaps it's time to look for a different investment.
C.H. had a problem with the fact that I picked on a small-cap name. He said:
"... no daytrader and very few investors know what you're talking about, except it sounds negative. Companies that are not profitable are essentially worth 0 (zero). Anybody who pays up beyond that are betting on the future. Most players know what could happen to the stock if management doesn't perform. The market will take care of itself. But pieces like yours can really hurt people who just got in, especially relatively low-float stocks. Let the market take care of it! Stick to bigger-cap stocks if you're gonna do a negative piece."
Hmm, so I shouldn't write about details of a company because its investors may not know what I'm talking about? Here's logic that I don't understand. The reader would rather have his head stuck in the sand than enlightened to a potential problem with the company. Letting the market take care of it simply means that the big investors that are already in the know will have an advantage over the little guy. Interestingly, this reader wasn't the only one to blast me for writing negatively about a small-cap.
Chris sent me three emails in less than an hour. The basic premise of each one was the same as what he said in the first salvo: "
One analyst questions it, and you're printing this (expletive deleted)? What if we go higher? You would have caused investors to jump ship.
It was more than one analyst who had suspicions, but since they all insisted on anonymity, in the interest of brevity, I only quoted one in the column. Besides, once I saw what was going on, it wasn't just the analysts that I spoke with who had questions. I also believed it looked odd.
As for Dynavax going higher, taking a stance on a stock and/or publishing a story such as this is not a responsibility that I take lightly. The stock could continue to rise. Nevertheless, I believe a company with a management team that appears to have so little regard for its investors is not one that deserves your hard-earned investment dollars.
Finally, someone who agreed with me on a different topic.
M.S. summed up my
rather efficiently. Had I seen his email first, I could have saved myself 700 or so words: "
ImClone has too much baggage. What a history of ups and downs. It's time to be sold.
And lastly, I received many emails regarding
my post in
Columnist Conversation that smoking pot may prevent Alzheimer's. M.M. from Bellingham, Wash., provided
this link to a more in-depth article. But my favorite response came from G.T., who lamented, "
It sucks to be 53 years old and have 0 cool friends.
Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider Dynavax to be a small-cap stock. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.
In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, Lichtenfeld doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships.
Marc Lichtenfeld was previously an analyst at Avalon Research Group and The Weiss Group and a trader at Carlin Equities. He holds NASD 86, 87, 7 and 63 licenses. His prior journalism experience includes being a reporter/anchor for On24 in San Francisco and a managing editor of InvestorsObserver, a personal finance Web site. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany. He appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.