Analysts don't get a lot of attention, unless their doing something illegal or immoral. This week in financial history marks one time an analyst made the news for doing the right thing and getting punished for it. We'll look at this and much more, this week in Wall Street's History. (Missed last week's article? Check out Wall Street History: Greenspan And IPO Madness.)
The Klondike Gold Rush
On August 16, 1896, George Carmack – or more likely, one of his companions – discovered nuggets of gold in the Klondike River in Canada's Yukon. The discovery of a rich claim sparked a gold rush that saw 50,000 caught up in the excitement of finding a fortune in the frozen north. Tons of gold were removed from the Yukon, and mining claims were gradually bought up be larger companies that were still mining in the 1960s. Carmack, whether the discovery was his or not, walked off a millionaire and returned to the states to enjoy the fruits of his lucky find. (Read more, in 8 Reasons To Own Gold.)
DeLorean Beats Drug Wrap
Anyone who has seen Back to the Future will recognize John Z. DeLorean's most famous car. On August 16, 1984, the creator of the DMC 12 was acquitted of drug trafficking due to entrapment. The flamboyant CEO was at the head of a failing company when an FBI informant offered to help out financially by bringing DeLorean in on a cocaine smuggling operation. DeLorean won the case, but his company had long since ceased as a going concern. By the time it was featured in Back to the Future, the DMC 12 was already part of the past.
On August 16, 1978, the U.S. Federal Trade commission levied a $25.6 million fine on Xerox for anti-competitive behavior. The company was charged with using technical patents to lock-up the market for photocopiers and prevent competitors from getting a start. The company was forced to share some of the patented technology. Many of these licenses ended up in the hands of Japanese companies that quickly filled in the lower-end copy market. Although Xerox continued to hold onto the top-end segment for years, the loss of its patents severely shortened Xerox's ability to enjoy outsized profits for its years of R&D. What this cost the company in the short- and long-term is a question that many of Xerox's shareholders have no doubt agonized over. (Read more background info, in Female CEOs: What It Takes To Climb The Corporate Ladder.)
The New Tech Gorilla
On August 19, 2004, Larry Page and Sergey Brin saw their six-year-old company go public. Google hit the market at $85 a share, raising $1.67 billion. The company's market cap was in excess of $23 billion. In 2007, shares of Google hit $700, and even now trade near the $500 mark. Founded as a search engine, Google is among the largest tech companies in the world with a wide range of interests – energy, phones, video, advertising and social media. Apple may be on top now, as far as tech market cap, but Google's day will likely come soon. (Read Gauging Major Turns With Psychology to find out how to use Google's technology to your advantage.)
Sell Enron? You're Fired
On August 21, 2001, Chung Wu, a broker for UBS PaineWebber, was fired for advising his clients to sell Enron stock in spite of the firm's strong buy rating. Wu was fired on the same day due to pressure from Enron on UBS management. Wu's story made headlines once the bankruptcy and fraud came to light. He settled with the firm in a NASD arbitration, but no details were released. As for UBS, the conglomerate later bought pieces of Enron and took on many of the higher-level employees after the bankruptcy.
On August 22, 1992, Hurricane Andrew struck Florida, causing billions in damage and killing more than 20 people. The final bills for clean up and repairs were in excess of $25 billion. Andrew was surpassed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as the most costly hurricane ever, causing over $80 billion in damage. (Find out more about natural disasters, in Preparing For Nature's Worst.)
Next week we'll look at Boesky, Siegel and more.
Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: Billionaire Pledges and Other Positive Press.