Manuel P. Asensio founded Asensio & Company, Inc. (ACO) as a FINRA and SEC registered investment firm in 1992. In January of 1996, ACO become the nation’s first registered investment firm to publish an investigative short selling report on this website, asensio.com. This is the first “Strong Sell” report ever published by a securities firm. It occurred at the birth of the Internet. The subject was Diana Corp. that was the first Internet-related high-flying stock. The transaction was a spectacular success.
asensio.com went on to play a seminal role in developing activist short investing and the distribution of short-focused investment research via the internet.
Bringing short-selling into public dialogue and making short-focused research available to all investors have been core parts of asensio.com’s mission since 1996 – the New York Times labeled asensio.com’s work “something radical and remarkable” in 1998. It is difficult to imagine a time when stock news website did not exist and the brokerage firms were not yet on the Internet. Investors access to new and reports on publicly traded company was restricted to sell-side analyst reports, company publications and most the Dow Jones newswire and the Wall Street Journal. This was the environment in 1996 when asensio.com issued its first report.
While Mr. Asensio’s innovative approach to publicly advocating short theses has been controversial, it has yielded important public benefits, and has spawned several similar websites.
Some of the most important cases in asensio.com’s history are highlighted here. These cases show major regulatory changes and political events that resulted from Mr. Asensio’s work. Most importantly, asensio.com’s reporting exposed numerous instances of stock fraud, serving as a warning signal to investors – in all cases, asensio.com was able to point to what would ultimately bring about the company’s downfall.
Mr. Asensio’s work has been highlighted by publications such as The New York Times, Bloomberg, Forbes, USA Today, and many others. A complete record of articles about Mr. Asensio’s work can be found here. Mr. Asensio has also made multiple television appearances, including on CNBC and Bloomberg TV.
A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (“NBER”) named Mr. Asensio the pioneer of activist short selling, a new class of short sellers that are “information producers as arbitrageurs.” The NBER is the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization with twenty-four Nobel Prize winners in Economics and thirteen past chairs of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers as members.
The NBER study found the “pioneer [of “information producers as arbitrageurs] is Manuel Asensio of Asensio & Co., which was founded in 1992 and started publishing reports on overvalued companies in 1994” and that “Asensio & Co.’s reports yield the highest returns’ by the study’s measure and during the study’s timeframe.”
ACO published the 1994 report referenced by NBER on PR Newswire. This was the first time that PR Newswire granted access to its newswire to a short seller.
Mr. Asensio completed an undergraduate degree at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA at Harvard Business School. In his post-MBA career, Mr. Asensio began working at Bear Stearns in mergers and acquisitions in 1986, after selling his first FINRA-member firm, which Mr. Asensio formed directly after graduating from Harvard. In 1993, Mr. Asensio founded Asensio & Company, Inc. (ACO), which became the first FINRA- and SEC-registered brokerage firm dedicated to short-focused research and trading. asensio.com was initially started in 1996 as a venue to release ACO’s short-selling research to the public, making it the first website to be exclusively focused on distributing original short-selling ideas. Since starting ACO, Mr. Asensio has focused professionally on research, trading, and advising investors, particularly regarding special-situation short investments. The investments covered by asensio.com spanned all types of industries; the uniqueness of asenso.com’s reporting consisted of a focus on the fundamental economics of the product, even in the most purportedly “high-tech” industries.
Mr. Asensio was born in Cuba. His is a Cuban immigrant from the Bay of Pigs era. Mr. Asensio’s mother, Caridad Asensio, is the founder of the Caridad Center. Mr. Asensio’s parent arranged for him to be adopted by his aunt and uncle, Alicia and Abilio Hernandez, so that they could take him out of Communist Cuba under a their travel permit. They felt Cuba on a merchant ship headed from Spain on May 15, 1961, a day on which Mr. Asensio celebrates America. They changed their plans and disembarked in Caracas, Venezuela. Abilio and Alicia made this decision based on information on employment opportunities they received from friends who came to see them on the ship while it was docked in Venezuela.
Here you can view Mr. Asensio’s travel documents of his coming to America journey described above.
https://asensio.com/wp-admin/upload.php?item=11932 May 15, 1961 departure from Communist Cuba
https://asensio.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/fb8a2440-8e10-4423-acb8-9bd88a9a477f.jpg August 15 , 1961 left caracas, Venezuela and landed at JFK alone. Abilio and Alicia, and Mr. Asensio’s cousin removed in Caracas. Mr. Asensio’s mother and father made their way out of Communist Cuba separately later. Within a year the family was reunited in Brooklyn, New York. They lived in a rental apartment building occupied by Cuban refugee families.
Mr. Asensio’s Green Card: