After 35 years of stockbroking for some of the biggest houses and investors in Australia and the UK, the Secret Broker is regaling Stockhead readers with his colourful war stories — from the trading floor to the dealer’s desk.

As we move from the last 12 months and look forward to our hopes and dreams for the next 12 months, it’s good to clear a few of those WTF financial moments out of the old memory bank before you sink into a New Year-induced food and drink armchair coma.

If we were going to hold an award ceremony, it would be more in the style of Ricky Gervais than Karl Stefanovic.

Ricky just sold 3 million tickets for his world stand up show and who watches the Golden Globes without him presenting? So much for political correctness.

The person awarded ‘Compliance Officer of the Year’ is none other than Gene Levoff.

Gene was employed by Apple Inc to enforce the tech giant’s insider trading policy. He got to know inside information that staff were aware of before any public announcements, and his job was to police the company’s strict staff trading policies.

On October 24, our Gene was charged with insider trading Apple Inc stock.

It turns out that the Fox had been put in charge of the Chicken coop, as he had made $US277,000 ($398,102) ahead of sexy sales figures and saved over $US377,000 by selling ahead of not so sexy figures.

In true lawyer fat fee speak, his lawyer stated that: “We look forward to vigorously defending Mr Levoff with respect to these allegations”. Good luck with that one. Looking at 20 years plus fines.

I termed this Imapplement.

Talking of fat Lawyer fees, the ‘Are we there yet?’ award goes to all those involved in earning some of the $200m in fees paid out in a 24-year-old (running) litigation case.

This works out at about $8m a year and on the 21st of December it was announced that a final settlement had been agreed upon by all parties.

The biggest winner out of all of this is the Belgian dentist, Louis Reijtenbagh, who has been funding part of these fees for most of the 24 years.

Louis is now 73 years old, which means he was 49 years old in 1995, when he breathed in some of his medical laughing gas and hit the ‘Lets Litigate’ button.

If you are 34 years old today, you would have been a Pacman playing, 10-year-old kid. It was also the year Wonderwall by Oasis was voted The Best Song by Triple J listeners.

This whole case was based around my old bathing buddy Alan Bond and some of his companies, and even poor old Alan had departed earth four years before this mammoth settlement was reached. Louis should net a cool $280m for his efforts.

That’s a lot of gold fillings and, for the record, I have seen Louis’ teeth but never shared a bath with him!

The award for ‘The Best Named CEO’, goes to Jayne Hrdlicka, who lasted 18 months steering A2 Milk (ASX:A2M).

I never took much notice of her name until I saw the headline that she had overseen the company spending $18.9m on consultancy fees in that time.

(Yes, it looks like milk. It even tastes like milk. Then it must be milk. OK, well done team send A2 Milk our monthly bill for $1m).

I was always taught that you should not mix milk with hard liquor and this obviously came to a head when the board also remembered this, as on the 9th of December, it was announced to the market that the mix of Hrdlicka and milk had made the board sick.

The award for ‘The best ASX lodgement’ goes to Gabriel Hewitt for his three lodgement attempts and the honesty portrayed in finally getting them over the line.

In a year, I read thousands and thousands of announcements but nothing ever stood out more than these three full announcements by MCS Services (ASX:MSG).

On his second attempt he even added a footnote, just to clarify how things were going, stating:
“I apologise to the ASX for the nature of my previous notice. I am under a lot of stress at the moment, and had started drinking. I have a phobia of forms and knew it would be easier to complete my sub holder notice whilst inebriated.”

There you go tell ‘em just how it is!

First attempt

Second attempt

Finally!

The HC comments are just as brilliant! Remember these are legal documents, so maybe next time he should just buy 4.99 per cent and save himself from going through all that grief.

According to Stockhead, there were 114 listed companies that changed their names in 2019. The award for ‘The Best Name Change for 2019’ goes to Veriluma (ASX:VRI).

The company already had a weird name and no one seemed to know what it meant, so it had a vote and it has now been changed to: Houston We Have Ltd (ASX:HWH) — and still no one understands what the company actually does.

Can’t wait to phone them up after the holidays and see how the receptionist answers the phone and pray to God that her name is not Whitney, otherwise it would be ‘Hello, Houston We Have Whitney speaking’.

The company’s new logo seems to sum up how its thought pattern came up with this bit of marketing brilliance.

My old favourite ShareRoot (ASX:SRO), came in a close second having changed its name to Oply. Both have had share consolidations and used the age old trick of thinking that if they also change their names, then their past performance nightmares will be papered over.

‘Best Non-Appropriately Named IPO Company’ goes to Prospa (ASX:PGL), which took two attempts at a full IPO.

The first one raised $60m but was pulled 15 minutes before trading was due to start on ASIC concerns.

However, the second attempt saw Prospa actually list at a price of $3.78, but the company hit everyone expectedly with a profit downgrade just five months later and the stock tanked 28 per cent and now currently trades at $1.84, down 52 per cent.

That’s all from me for this year. I would just like to say a big thank you to Gerry Harvey, who’s AGM antics bring great enjoyment to what is normally regarded as a boring event and well worth my back of the room giggling.

Also, a big thank you to Elon Musk, who hates short sellers for pushing down Tesla stock but now loves them, as one of the biggest short squeezes I have ever witnessed pushed the price to $US420, which was his hash smoking ($US20m fine) prediction boast.

Cheers,
TSB

The Secret Broker can be found on Twitter here @SecretBrokerAU or on email at thesecretbroker@stockhead.com.au.

Feel free to contact him with your best stock tips and ideas.