Boots Asensio's Brokerage
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Who is Bill Wexler?
Asensio's work is widely promoted on Internet chat boards. One of his
longtime cheerleaders is Bill Wexler,
who also gives short-selling advice of his own.
Actually, the two differ more than enough to rule out the notion.
Which does not rule out the possibility
that they are business associates who have worked together for years.
Wexler has hosted two discussion boards at Silicon Investor: Bill Wexler's Profits of DOOM, and its successor, Bill Wexler's Dog Pound. Both have served as billboards for his stock picks, which he has also publicized on Yahoo message boards.
Like a traditional analyst, Wexler would "initiate coverage" on a stock. But the similarity ended there. His short recommendations were more akin to Asensio's "fraud alerts." Initial commentaries were followed by a steady stream of further accusations about his targets--and occasionally, even plans to contact regulatory authorities. Anyone who disagreed with him was promptly denounced as a "shill."
One thing Wexler did not do was reveal his qualifications. But through his posts, he cultivated an image--that of a fabulously wealthy independent investor, living in the Bay Area and writing under his real name. One who could be counted on to answer any criticism with a reminder of how rich, how smart, and how right he was.
Until late in May, 2002. When without notice, the normally combative Wexler
suddenly vanished from his site.
Why Wexler abruptly stopped posting at his Dog Pound is unknown. But by the summer of 2002, his self-portrait as an independent investor had run into some resistance. One reader asked if Wexler was "part of Elgindy's outfit," a reference to the short-seller arrested for an alleged racketeering and extortion scheme. Wexler broke his silence to say he was simply taking some time off.
Another observer pointed to a recent message that named nine short picks. Wexler was asked to explain the astonishing coincidence of all nine turning up in the holdings of a hedge fund located in the city where he lives. And not just any hedge fund, but Asensio's longtime client, West Highland Capital.
Wexler never answered the question.
Coincidence? Or Smoking Gun?
nine stocks were just the beginning. Wexler actually commented on 41 stocks
held by West Highland between 1998 and 2002. Often
(though not always) its position was fairly small for an institutional investor. Such a holding
is frequently a marker for a far larger short position.
Just as striking are Wexler's messages that name multiple stocks. With thousands of stocks trading on U.S. exchanges, someone who picks three to 10 has very little chance of having even one match with a small hedge fund. And infinitely less chance of matching the fund three times out of three, or four times out of six, or seven times out of nine. Yet, Wexler repeatedly beat the extraordinary odds and did precisely that.
People Are Talking
Wexler is aware of the talk that he is actually Mike Wilkins. Evidence that he has either admitted or denied the rumors appears elusive.
The Bottom Line
It looks fishy, to be sure. But determining who Bill Wexler is with certainty will probably require filing a subpoena for records from Silicon Investor.
Until someone does so successfully, investors will have to reach their own
opinion about Wexler. Was he truly offering independent advice? Or
presenting himself as a crusader against deception while promoting the
fortunes of an undisclosed institutional investor?