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Investment Analyst Threatened After Downgrading Stocks

Aired July 14, 2000 - 1:07 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: When financial experts talk, Wall Street listens. But some investors are unhappy with what they're hearing and trying to take matters into their own hands. When one investment bank recently downgraded a group of stocks, one of its analysts became the target of death threats.

Steve Young of CNN Financial News has the story from New York -- Steve.

STEVE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, that's right. Just the other week when Salomon Smith Barney downgraded the entire semiconductor sector, which includes a whole range of companies, many of those stocks were adversely impacted. One of the authors of that report received death threats, death threats by e-mail, death threats by telephone.

Salomon Smith Barney is not commenting at all on the story, but we have information from several sources with detailed knowledge, and we know that this is not a one-time event in the industry.

Dan Niles, an analyst now with Lehman Brothers, told us last night after he downgraded Dell Computer and Rambus, an important maker of chips for electronic components, he too received death threats at home. His wife received some of those. He went to an anonymous phone number. He says that it's the cost of visibility. The story's obviously serious. I did say, well, you know, when you make an upgrade and people make money, do they send you a fruit basket. He said, what do you think?

People seem to take for granted the right for them to make money in the market with no qualifications. They don't expect to lose. He made the point that no one, whether an individual or a larger investor, should invest any kind of money they can't afford to lose. Some of these analysts have said that they've had death threats associated with things like, you made me lose money that I needed for my son's college education and so forth. So the advice to investors, of course, now or ever, is be prepared to lose what you invest.

But it's difficult right now to say how seriously these threats are being taken, except we do know, as we've reported, that some analysts are moving to anonymous phone numbers, and we're attempting to find out how just pervasive this is -- Natalie.

ALLEN: That's the question that was on my mind. Steve Young, thank you very much.

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