(Bloomberg) -- Leon Black viewed Jeffrey Epstein as a “confirmed bachelor with eclectic tastes, who often employed attractive women.”The private equity titan was willing to overlook that Epstein had served 13 months in a Florida jail after soliciting an underage prostitute. That was partly because Epstein claimed the girl had lied about her age, while Black, co-founder of Apollo Global Management Inc., believed in second chances, particularly for his well-connected friend.Thus continued a relationship between the men that was laid out in a report released Monday by law firm Dechert, commissioned by Apollo’s board after news stories about their financial ties. The investigation found that Black paid Epstein $158 million between 2012 and 2017 -- after the sex offender pleaded guilty to felony charges in 2008 -- for advisory services that helped expand the wealth of one of America’s richest men.The report made clear that Apollo never retained Epstein for any services and that he never invested in any Apollo-managed funds. Dechert found no evidence that Black, 69, was involved in any way of Epstein’s criminal activities, and the billionaire maintains he had no knowledge of Epstein’s abuse of underage girls. Still, the findings showed how the disgraced adviser’s knowledge of the tax system and skill managing the affairs of the ultra-rich helped Black save at least $1 billion, and potentially more than $2 billion.At the same time Apollo revealed details of the report, the company said Black would step down as chief executive officer. He’ll remain chairman.Tax SavingsThe Dechert report details a friendship going back to the 1990s, with Black impressed by Epstein’s ties to prominent figures in business, politics and science, including researchers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Black was a frequent visitor to Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, confided personal matters to him and visited his homes around the globe.Dechert also laid out the ways Epstein was useful to Black, who’s worth almost $10 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.The business arrangement started in 2012, according to the law firm, which reviewed over 60,000 documents.Black a few years earlier had set up a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust, or GRAT. These vehicles, which are popular with extremely wealthy Americans, are structured so that appreciation in assets placed in a GRAT can go to heirs without paying U.S. estate and gift taxes. But Black’s had a flaw and there was a risk of a tax assessment of $500 million, which could rise to $1 billion or more if it wasn’t resolved.Epstein offered what the report described as a “unique solution.” It was the first project Epstein worked on for Black and possibly the most valuable.In 2015, Epstein helped with another transaction designed to save Black’s children on taxes, known as a step-up basis transaction. The complicated arrangement, which took nine months to execute, involved loans between Black and trusts, and avoiding capital gains taxes for his beneficiaries. Epstein claimed the move saved $600 million.Yachts, PlaneEpstein, a Brooklyn native, was an enigma to many inside and outside of finance. He attended Cooper Union and New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences but left both without a degree. He briefly had a job at Bear Stearns Cos. and before his first arrest worked extensively for lingerie mogul Les Wexner. The L Brands founder severed ties with Epstein after his first conviction and later accused him of misappropriating “vast sums of money from me and my family.” But Epstein had helped Wexner with his finances and purchases such as real estate.He did many of those same things for Black.Epstein helped respond to audits, and advised on how to manage Black’s art, yacht and airplane, according to the Dechert report.“Epstein would get into the weeds on obscure issues about which otherwise highly competent Family Office employees were not knowledgeable,” the report said.One of Epstein’s contributions, according to the report, was convincing Black to focus on these issues, as well as meeting with his family and explaining how the estate was organized. He would prepare detailed “fire drill” plans, testing how Black’s estate would be taxed under different scenarios.‘Caustic Force’Black’s full-time staff didn’t always appreciate Epstein’s contributions. He was “generally a disruptive and caustic force within the family office,” the report said, one who “had a habit of overdramatizing even minor perceived errors.”Epstein would take credit for others’ ideas, while compiling long lists of his own suggestions. Many of his creative estate-planning schemes didn’t hold up under scrutiny. According to witnesses, including Black, “part of the challenge of working with Epstein was separating the good ideas from the bad ones.”“What’s bizarre to me is having Epstein in any way in charge of your estate planning,” said University of Richmond law professor Allison Tait. “He didn’t just leave this to his family office staff, who were likely highly competent.”But the payments racked up. Black paid Epstein $50 million in 2013, $70 million in 2014 and $30 million the following year. He made a $10 million donation to Gratitude America in October 2015, which was a charitable organization affiliated with Epstein.That sort of compensation is unusual. Estate planning attorneys and tax advisers are typically paid by the hour or by the transaction. IRS regulations forbid tax practitioners from charging contingent fees “in connection with any matter before the Internal Revenue Service.”But Epstein, with his atypical role and background, could avoid those rules, said Jay Soled, a Rutgers University professor who is also a practicing estate tax attorney. “This is a very unusual arrangement because he doesn’t really have training.”Beginning in 2016, “Black and Epstein’s professional and personal relationship deteriorated,” according to the report. One dispute was over a payment tied to the step-up transaction, with Black refusing to pay Epstein tens of millions of dollars that Epstein believed he had earned.Epstein pushed back on the issue through emails that invoked his friendship with the billionaire and referenced personal matters shared in confidence. Black held firm and at an April 2018 meeting it was determined that while Epstein had played a key role in the deal, the idea came from one of Black’s external lawyers.Black also thought that the amounts he was paying Epstein would be fully deductible on his tax returns -- because this is what Epstein told him -- and this wasn’t the case.Black’s last payment to Epstein was made in April 2017, and in 2018, Epstein repaid a portion of two loans that were outstanding to Black but never repaid the balance, according to the report. Black and Epstein stopped communicating in 2018, the year before Epstein was arrested on charges of sex trafficking minors and later died in jail. His death was ruled a suicide.(Updates with external comment in 19th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Goldman Sachs sounds the alarm on some very hot tech stocks.
Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday said it expected to report eagerly-awaited data on its COVID-19 vaccine early next week, and that it would be able to meet the delivery target for doses to countries with which it had signed supply agreements. Public health officials are increasingly counting on single-dose options like the one being tested by J&J to simplify and boost inoculations given the complications and slower-than-hoped rollout of authorized vaccines from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc, which require second shots weeks after the first. The company forecast 2021 profit well above Wall Street estimates, and its shares rose 3.4% to $171.55.
Your retirement savings are $1 million. You want $100,000 of yearly retirement income, including Social Security. Is that doable without tons of risk?
In the old days, starting in 1994 with Bill Bengen’s seminal study, financial advisers estimated how long your portfolio might last using historical returns and a safe withdrawal rate. For those unfamiliar, Bengen’s research left us with the 4% rule, which is considered (rightly or wrongly) the holy grail of retirement planning in some circles. Then, starting in 2005, investment firms and advisers were given the green light to use something called Monte Carlo to predict your portfolio’s probability of success — success being the probability that your nest egg would adequately fund your desired standard of living throughout your retirement.
(Bloomberg) -- “You guys still awake?”It was 12:43 a.m. on Jan. 19, and TRGainz, a frequent user of the social media platform Stocktwits, was getting antsy. So too was Alwaysliquid. “Can’t sleep,” he shot back seconds later.In some nine hours, financial markets would open in New York, and when they did, an obscure penny stock by the name of Blue Sphere Corp. would suddenly, and seemingly miraculously, soar, handing a windfall of some $30 million to those who had loaded up on the stock in the weeks before.TRGainz and Alwaysliquid knew what was coming and were struggling to contain their excitement. For days, chatter on this Stocktwits page and others, like a message board for Reddit users dedicated to penny stocks, had been steadily building about Blue Sphere.That the company had neither a stock exchange listing nor recent financial disclosures of any kind seemed not to matter to anyone. It was a clean-energy company and, with the Democrats taking control of both the White House and Congress, that was enough to make it a sellable story to the day-trading masses who had turned into an unstoppable force in the great pandemic stock rally.Moneyman223 was a prominent voice throughout, imploring fellow members to jump in before the stock exploded. “Get in or regret not getting in,” the moneyman posted early Jan. 14, a day after another Stocktwits member had tagged Blue Sphere as a clear winner from the Democrats’ climate-change agenda.Late the next day, the final session of trading before the long weekend, Moneyman223 was prodding again: “not too late for you fools to still get in.” Then a character named byelowsellhi declared: “Have a great weekend fellow future millionaires.”Blue Sphere soared as advertised on Jan. 19. By the end of the day, it was up 451%, having risen from six-tenths of a penny to over 3 cents. Roughly 2 billion shares traded that day, staggering and yet not altogether abnormal volume in a burgeoning new age of penny stock speculation. The chat-forum posts came in fast and furious as the stock soared: “Incredible day everyone,” “we r gonna filthy rich together” and “congrats to everyone who took the risk & believed in yourself!!!!!!”On any given day, there are a dozen or more Blue Sphere-like stories of tiny, profitless companies that mysteriously go from obscurity to viral sensation. Lately the frenzied pace of boom and bust in these penny stocks has started to drown out all the other forms of speculative mania in the pandemic-era market. Call it another froth marker -- retail traders beset with mass psychosis amid zero-commission fees and zero benchmark interest rates -- to be filed alongside the GameStop Corp. saga, the three-fold rally in cryptocurrencies, the SPACs that are minted daily and the record highs being plumbed by major equity indexes.“People start to look around and say, ‘What else can I do with my money?’” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. Rules regarding trading over-the-counter securities vary broker to broker, but they can be purchased on any of TD Ameritrade’s trading platforms for a fee. “Those would be one of the ones on the top of my list to say to people, ‘Please understand the risk that you’re taking going in there.’ I learned early in life, if there’s a lot of upside, there’s a lot of downside. People just might not want to tell you about the downside.”For anyone observing at a distance, it’s hard to understand how penny stocks of the moment are chosen. How does critical mass form around them? The universe of companies that make up off-exchange trading in America is vast, and they trade on lightly regulated quotation services where information is scant to non-existent. Like everything on the internet, it’s next to impossible to track down exact origins. But in trying to locate the spark, these types of message-board conversations almost always presage takeoff.And while nobody so far is ascribing illicit intent to the goings-on in today’s trader-chat rooms, it’s hard not to note the similarity to the penny-stock crazes of yesteryear, when schemes like “pump-and-dump” and “greater fool” were the rage.Stocktwits, which bills itself as the largest community for investors and traders, has been increasing its focus on content moderation and support to crack down on get-rich-quick scams, according to Chief Executive Officer Rishi Khanna.“It’s something we keep our eye out for. Now we can’t obviously pay attention to every single screen, so we depend on the community to report something that might seem a little bit off or funky,” Khanna said in an interview. “We’re not going to stop it all -- that’s just physically impossible -- but we do our best.”Attempts to contact officials at Blue Sphere for comment were unsuccessful. Emails and voicemails left by Bloomberg News weren’t answered.The company hasn’t filed a report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in roughly two years. In the aftermath of the stock’s surge last week, a Stocktwits member with the user name WolfeRegalia, wrote, “I can’t find any real information. Company’s website has financials backed to 2018. Any leads someone can recommend? Thanks in advance.”Such is the challenge of telling a true long-term penny stock investment from a straight pump -- when a group of people pile into the same stock at the same time to quickly influence prices.One rapidly growing Reddit forum dedicated to penny stock trading recently updated its rules to curb user shilling. The page, r/pennystocks, now boasts over 430,000 members -- “astronauts,” using the site’s own nomenclature. That’s up 21% from the end of December, according to Breakout Point, a data and analytics firm that tracks such information.At the top of the r/pennystocks page is a frequently asked questions drop down menu. One option reads, “Identifying a pump,” and links back to a three-year-old post titled, “How to find, and ride pumps.”The first step? According to the post, start by downloading Stocktwits, but use your own discretion.“I hesitate to tell you this simply because I don’t want you to buy into all the hype on there,” the post reads. “Remember, don’t trust anyone, especially all the talk on Stocktwits. Most of it is all garbage. Don’t believe it.”Then find a stock that’s recently gone parabolic, do some research to see which people were telling folks to buy before the surge (they’re the pumpers), follow those people and set up alerts for when they make new posts.“Don’t cross the line,” the post reads. “Now I do want to stress the importance here that pumping a stock is illegal. However investing in a stock that is rising in price and volume is not.” But in closing, “Good luck everyone! May your losses be low, and your gains be high.”These days, there’s plenty of hopefuls out there.“The newly minted day traders which have been such dominant forces in the market -- they keep finding other places to go and bring that speculative fervor into the mix, and it seems penny stocks is the latest,” said Liz Ann Sonders, Charles Schwab’s chief investment strategist. Trading of OTC stocks is available for those with Schwab brokerage accounts. “I have no speculation or knowledge or even guess on what starts that, but whatever does, it feeds on itself and year-to-date that’s been another hot trend.”As for Blue Sphere, it appears the fever hasn’t broken. The stock price did almost collapse 50% in the first three days after its Jan. 19 pop, but on Monday, it shot higher once again, ending the day at 2.2 cents, for a gain of 26%.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Speaker Pelosi and other leaders want quick approval. How soon could you get more money?
A mix of choices for investorsMutual funds can help diversify your retirement portfolio, whether you're looking for growth through equity exposure or dividend income. Vanguard has a reputation for offering low-cost index funds and exchange-traded funds to help investors achieve their retirement goals.
Plug Power raised its 2021 guidance and a 2024 target as fuel cell stocks continue to rally amid hopes for more green energy policies.
During my working career, I saved money in taxable brokerage accounts, IRAs and 401(k)s, but never focused on Roth accounts. As an experienced investor but a Roth novice, I wanted initially to take it slowly. The first thing I learned is that you should start a Roth IRA by age 55, so you can withdraw all amounts—contributions and earnings—tax-free beginning at age 59½.
Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya said Tuesday that he had purchased February call options on GameStop amid the stock's controversial Wall Street surge.
PepsiCo, the planetary purveyor of sugary drinks, greasy chips, and (weirdly) oatmeal, hummus, and gazpacho(?) is partnering with Beyond Meat, the publicly traded plant-based protein provider, on a poorly named joint venture to hawk new plant-based food and beverages to consumers. The PLANeT Partnership (which was clearly branded by the same genius behind the comic sans font), will combine Beyond Meat's skills with protein prestidigitation and PepsiCo's marketing and manufacturing savvy to flood the global market with new snacks and drinks, the two companies said. Neither company disclosed any financial terms and other pesky details around who, what, where, and when, except to say that the the joint venture operations will be managed through the newly created PLANeT Partnership.
Lockheed Martin reported mixed fourth-quarter results and guided 2021 earnings below consensus on Tuesday.
Top news and what to watch in the markets on Tuesday, January 26, 2021.
2020 was an absolutely unbelievable year for electric vehicle stocks, but with a new administration set to take the wheel, this year could be even bigger
Some companies favor a "do one job and do it well" approach. However, that is not the Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE) way. While being laser-focused on just one objective can have its advantages, having a wider-based remit can be just as effective, if done well. That is certainly the opinion of Alliance Global analyst James Molloy when evaluating Sorrento’s prospects. “SRNE combines one of the most active and promising pipelines in the COVID space with a potentially transformative non-opioid pain pipeline, and adds in a deep oncology pipeline,” the analyst said. “Most of SRNE's pipeline has significant catalysts over the next 1-4 quarters, with multiple late-stage clinical data read-outs and multiple potential Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) launches as well.” So, what’s on offer from the Sorrento menu in the near-term? The company has already filed an EUA for COVI-STIX, a 15-minute nasal swab antigen test for SARS-CoV-2, in the US and Mexico, and the test could be launched as early as 1H21. Accurate COVID tests are still needed in the US and around the globe, and Molloy expects the assay to gain EUA approval and could “rapidly approach $500M in sales as soon as 2022.“ SRNE's 8-minute SARS-CoV-2 antibody test COVID-TRACK could swiftly follow in its footsteps with an EUA anticipated to be filed in the year’s first half, too. “This could easily be another $500million+ near term opportunity,” Molloy said. Furthermore, the company’s two neutralizing antibody treatments, COVI-DROPS and COVI-AMG, against SARS-CoV-2, could be launched in 2022. Each of these, as well, have the potential to bring in more than $500 million in sales, according to the analyst The company’s non-opioid pain pipeline also has several late-stage catalysts. Fast tracked by the FDA, Phase 3 data for sciatica pain candidate SP-102 should be available this year, while RTX for OsteoArthritis (OA) knee pain and intractable cancer pain will kick-off Phase 2 and Phase 3 studies, respectively, in 2021. Both target “substantial market opportunities.” Last but not least is Abivertinib, the company's oncology lead candidate, indicated for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and B-cell lymphomas, and currently in Phase 3 trials in China with top line data anticipated in 1H21. To this end, based on the progress of the company's pipeline, Molloy sees significant gains in SRNE's future. The analyst rates the stock a Buy and his $35 price target implies a hefty 277% upside. (To watch Molloy’s track record, click here) Overall, Sorrneto currently has few, yet very positive analysts tracking its progress. With Buy ratings only – 3, in total - the stock has a Strong Buy consensus rating. There’s plenty of upside projected, too; At $28.67, the average price target suggests gains of ~209% over the next 12 months. (See SRNE stock analysis on TipRanks) To find good ideas for healthcare stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
DraftKings is one of the top IPO stocks to watch, as gambling legalization gains steam. Here is what the fundamentals and technical analysis say about buying DKNG stock now.
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