Sunday, August 23, 2009
Goldman Sachs Gives Tips to Best Customers and Traders: you get the leftovers
*GS talks up a stock in "trading sessions" and then tells its best clients. Traders buy it at 23, then top clients buy it at 26 then GS upgrades to BUY at 27 then starts to decline. And who do you think is selling it to you after that? Suckers!
Goldman's Trading Tips Reward Its Biggest Clients
By SUSANNE CRAIG
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. research analyst Marc Irizarry's published rating on mutual-fund manager Janus Capital Group Inc. was a lackluster "neutral" in early April 2008. But at an internal meeting that month, the analyst told dozens of Goldman's traders the stock was likely to head higher, company documents show.
The next day, research-department employees at Goldman called about 50 favored clients of the big securities firm with the same tip, including hedge-fund companies Citadel Investment Group and SAC Capital Advisors, the documents indicate. Readers of Mr. Irizarry's research didn't find out he was bullish until his written report was issued six days later, after Janus shares had jumped 5.8%.
Every week, Goldman analysts offer stock tips at a gathering the firm calls a "trading huddle." But few of the thousands of clients who receive Goldman's written research reports ever hear about the recommendations.
At the meetings, Goldman analysts identify stocks they think are likely to rise or fall due to earnings announcements, the direction of the overall market or other short-term developments. Some of their recommendations differ from ratings printed in Goldman's widely circulated research reports. Some Goldman traders who make bets with the firm's own money attend the meetings.
Critics complain that Goldman's distribution of the trading ideas only to its own traders and key clients hurts other customers who aren't given the opportunity to trade on the information.
Securities laws require firms like Goldman to engage in "fair dealing with customers," and prohibit analysts from issuing opinions that are at odds with their true beliefs about a stock. Steven Strongin, Goldman's stock research chief, says no one gains an unfair advantage from its trading huddles, and that the short-term-trading ideas are not contrary to the longer-term stock forecasts in its written research.
Former Goldman client George Klopfer of Park City, Utah, who was unaware of the trading tips until recently, says the practice is unfair. "When I joined Goldman as a client, I got all these fancy brochures saying they put the client first," he says. "I just don't want to have to worry about them or big clients trading on stuff like this. I was at the end of the food chain." He says he pulled out most of the $20 million in his account earlier this year after losing money on several Goldman funds. Goldman says individual clients like Mr. Klopfer typically have a long-term investing approach and are not focused on individual stocks. wsj.com