Roth ‘n Roll

I just returned from the 20th Annual Roth Conference in Dana Point, Calif. All of the usual suspects were there toting their Roth beach bags around like tourists in search of a secluded cove, or in this case, a quiet table to talk shop.
 
Not sure if Roth put something in the water, but everyone seemed excessively happy. I looked around the room during our one-on-one session and noticed a sea of smiles meeting and greeting and eating.
 
The stock market is down, smelling salts of a recession are in the air, and the Fed keeps cranking out weak data.  Am I missing something? Is there a Prozac vendor nearby?
 
I realize that nearly a third of the attendees hail from the East Coast, and popping pastries at the Ritz-Carlton Dana Point in mid-February is a lot more appealing than popping antacid while knee deep in traffic on the Major Deegan. But investors and presenting companies were practically gleeful at this year’s Roth conference.
 
The fact is Roth knows how to throw a good party. Our buy-side meetings were with top-notch firms. The evening entertainment included In-N-Out Burger and alt-rockers Good Charlotte. And the Ritz-Carlton box lunch included a cookie that was moist and, well, delicious.
 
I suppose my only complaint is the noise level that emanated from neighboring tables during our one-on-one meetings. That, of course, and the distracting view of the handful of surfers and the Pacific Ocean that serve as a backdrop from nearly every vantage point at the hotel. 

 

Evan Pondel, Senior Associate, epondel@pondel.com
 
 

The Lerach Effect

The last name “Lerach” may be prone to cause indigestion, especially for those public companies that were named in one of his myriad class-action lawsuits. Before he was sentenced to two years in prison Monday, Lerach ever-so-artfully said, “I knew what I was doing was wrong.”  And so it goes. In my reporter days, receiving a press release from Lerach’s law firm seemed like a cheap and easy thrill when hunting down a juicy business story. But after reading a couple of paragraphs something always smelled a little fishy. With the market in a state of flux, it wouldn’t surprise me if we begin to see a new flurry of unfounded class-action lawsuits.

 

Evan Pondel, Senior Associate, epondel@pondel.com
 
 

In and Out

Effective with the start of trading on February 19, the Dow Jones Industrial Average will add Bank of America Corp. and Chevron Corp. and drop Altria Group Inc. and Honeywell International Inc.  Reuters said that this is the first change in the 111-year old Index since April 2004.
 
The composition of the index is determined by editors of the Wall Street Journal and while there are no set criteria for a stock to be added or deleted, the editors of the Journal intend that all of the components of the index be highly established U.S. companies that are leaders in their respective industries.

 

Laurie Berman, Senior Vice President, lberman@pondel.com
 
 

New SEC Financial Agent

The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Management Service has designated U.S. Bank of St. Louis, Missouri as the new Financial Agent for General Lockbox Services for the Securities and Exchange Commission. US Bank assumed responsibility from Mellon Bank on February 4, 2008. All fee payments (wires and checks) must be submitted to US Bank on and after this date. No payments should be submitted to Mellon Bank after February 1, 2008.
 
Click here for general information on filing fee procedures, or refer to 17CFR 202.3a, Instructions for Filing Fees.
 
For other questions or additional information, contact the Fee Account Services Branch in the Office of Financial Management at (202) 551-8989.

 

– PondelWilkinson, investor@pondel.com
 
 

Nasdaq Update

Nasdaq recently began placing its relationship managers in the field to keep them geographically closer to the listed companies they serve.  For example, Southern California (from San Diego to Santa Barbara) is now covered by two Nasdaq relationship managers who reside in the region.
 
Listed companies should maintain proactive relationships with their relationship managers as these folks can trouble shoot any issue from compliance to listing standards to bell-ringing ceremonies to renting out the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City for your next analyst day.
 
We were reminded of a couple of interesting tid-bits when Nasdaq visited our offices recently:
 

  • Nasdaq’s 2008 Core Services for listed companies (which include free webcasts, a dynamic annual report and Board tools, among others) are valued at $25,000.
  • Participation in bell-ringing ceremonies, at the open and close, are market cap driven.  In general, a listed company must have a market cap of $500 million to open the market and $250 million to close the market.
  • Nasdaq’s European investor conference is open to companies with market caps of at least $1 billion.
  • Pre notification to Nasdaq for all press releases is now handled via an electronic disclosure form at https://www.nasdaq.net/ED/IssuerEntry.aspx.
  • Each listed company has a dedicated surveillance account manager called a market intelligence director (MID).  Your MID can provide you with information about large block trades or significant price swings in your stock.  You can work with your market intelligence director to initiate calls when your stock price moves by a pre-determined percentage or when a block of a pre-determined amount of shares changes hands.  You can also call your market intelligence director whenever you need more clarity on how and why your stock is moving.

 
Log on to your company’s Nasdaq home page here for more information.

 

Laurie Berman, Senior Vice President, lberman@pondel.com
 
 

Saying Tata to Economic Jitters

If there is any indication that the economy is softening and consumers are interested in curbing their spending habits, it’s the Tata. Yes, the Tata. Despite a name that is often associated with someone saying goodbye, the world is saying hello to arguably one of the most inexpensive cars on the road. Both Portfolio and The New Yorker ran stories about the Tata in recent weeks. So, how inexpensive is the Tata? Try $2,500. And you thought the Smart car was an economical solution to rising gas prices, market volatility and the lack of coolness in your life.

 

Evan Pondel, Senior Associate, epondel@pondel.com