Susanne Craig at WSJ takes a deep dive into the practices of Goldman Sachs (GS) stock analysts, and notes that preferred clients get, well, preferred access to ideas and advice.
Here’s the nut of it:
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 favoured 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.
This story will bring fresh, unwanted attention to the bank, which is reeling from a string of undesirable media stories.
Goldman’s response is that ideas from the company’s “huddles” are consistent with the research the firm is broadly disseminating, and that it’s rare for anything particularly significant is disclosed in such meetings. In other words, the company denies that it gives advance info to anyone — it’s more like top tier clients get more time with the personal trainer.
Still, others feel differently about the practice:
The tips usually go to top clients who have expressed interest in having the information and have short-term investment horizons, he says. Goldman doesn’t want to overload other clients with information that isn’t relevant to them, he says. “We are not in the business of serving thousands of retail customers,” he says.
At least one competitor discloses such trading tips much more broadly. Morgan Stanley’s research department sends blast emails with short-term views on various stocks to thousands of clients, and posts the information on its Web site. It doesn’t call customers to convey the tips, because Morgan Stanley officials decided that could expose the firm to questions about selective disclosure, according to people familiar with the matter.
We’d be pretty curious, though, how profitable these huddles are for top traders. We find it hard to believe that the top hedge funds in the world get a lot of value out of Buy/Sell ideas from analysts, unless they’re blatantly telegraphing market-moving reports, in which case that could be trouble.
Still, this timeline looks pretty damning:
NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.