Congratulations to Barron’s for printing William Alpert’s recent piece on ParkerVision (“PRKR”). Alpert calls attention to the deep research recently undertaken by short sellers to expose PRKR. Most importantly, the article details Oscar Schafer’s 2001 irresponsible promotion of PRKR in Barron’s 2001 Annual Roundtable. As Alpert points out, Schafer claimed PRKR would see profits in 2001 and soon earn between $5 and $10 per share.
Needless to say, Schafer’s predictions failed to materialize. Alpert’s article provides an excellent outline of PRKR’s ridiculous history. In seventeen years, the company has lost over $17 million. It has never turned a profit and manages to survive on its executive’s exaggerations and baseless promotional announcements. Alpert effectively exposes the different issues surrounding PRKR, including the company’s relationship to Whale Securities and Banca del Gottardo.
However, there is an obvious problem with Alpert’s treatment. The article does not mention that most of this information was available in reports published by Asensio & Company, Inc (“Asensio”). Asensio initiated coverage of PRKR in 1999 and distributed its findings free of charge to the investing public. Eventually, Asensio’s research led to a Front Page Wall Street Journal article (click here to view article) that described the company’s involvement with Whale and Banca del Gottardo. Asensio’s work also led to Nueberger Berman’s suspension of Jack Ferraro for his unsavory ties to PRKR and positive changes within the firm. (Click here to read this Asensio report.)
Finally, it is important to note that in 2003, Asensio & Company, Inc. questioned Barron’s failure to provide an opposing view to Mr. Schafer’s dubious promotion of PRKR’s stock in Barron’s Annual Roundtable.
(Click here to view this Asensio report.) Barron’s conveniently ignored Asensio’s admonitions in 2003. Now, more than four years later, the financial periodical is tooting a different horn. Alpert should be praised for publicizing PRKR’s misconduct. Yet why does he fail to give Asensio the credit it deserves? The article refers to short-seller’s work on PRKR and includes a chart that shows the stock’s volatility. In 2001, PRKR reached its peak and the work of Asensio brought it down. It is great to see Mr. Alpert’s objective treatment of short-selling’s positive role in the marketplace, but why did he remain quiet during the 2001 promotion of PRKR?
Most importantly, how many investors were misled by Schafer’s unchecked propaganda in Barron’s?