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CEO Spotlight: Catalyst Research -Analyst Marc Robbins
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SMM.Global               Executive Spotlight Questionnaire                

Marc Robbins, Analyst and Manager of Catalyst Research.

What is your professional and educational background?

I’m one of those high school graduates that needed to cram four years of college into five just to figure out what I was going to do.  That is not actually quite right. I needed the extra year to explain to my Mother that I was not following my Father’s footsteps and going into the practice of medicine. Originally, I really wanted to give it a go, so I spent 10 years working in hospitals to figure out that medicine was changing even back in the 1970s and the changes were not for the better.  I figured the stock market made more sense. 

So, I graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Willamette University.  I took and extra year after graduating to focus on physics classes.  At that point, I decided I could teach physics (not enough money in it), play with big scientific toys (fun, but not enough money) or do something entirely different…Go into the stock market. I continued my education at Willamette’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management and because I was told by one trust officer I had to go to Harvard, Stanford or Wharton to really become a Wall Street “insider”, I moved to Portland, Oregon and joined a five person broker/dealer.

One last point on the pursuit of medicine.  My first experiences was “scut” work at my Dad’s clinic and the hospital he practiced at.  I got summer jobs on several psychiatric wards at the Eastern Oregon Hospital and Training Center (Remember, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”?  That was me in a white suit. But the few years after the movie, we had stronger drugs and fewer lobotomies and electro-shock treatments.  And as a PA2, I controlled the meds at night.) Spent multiple years at the Salem Memorial Hospital working my way from floor Orderly, Nursing Tech to ER Tech. Decent pay; cute nurses and lively nights!

I’ve spent most of my time after graduate school as a Senior Analyst, CFA, managed money and became a EF Hutton/Lehman Small-cap, Growth “Select Manager”.  Taught one of the very first, “Investment” classes for the startup of the CFP program in Portland. Taught investments for 10 years and “the Stock Market” for the Portland State University night program.  Was president of the Portland Analyst Society and had the pleasure of coordinating my first conference for the National Society—In 1988 we held the Forest Products conference for the national members in town.

Most people remember me from the startup (in my basement), launch and expanded reputation of The Red Chip Review. For those that don’t remember the publication, the Red Chip Review produced first an 88-page and eventually 150-page research work published every two weeks.  Each of the six editions concerned different industries.  We started with nearly 280 companies researched in 1993 and grew to 500 companies reviewed 4 years later. It was here that I met so many professional investors across the country because we would sell to money managers a high-touch, more personal research service that we charged $50,000 per year.

My wife and I sold it in 1999 so it could be a dot.com wonder.  It did just the opposite seven months later.

At this time, we’ve re-started our small-cap, Robins Equity Round-up investors conference.  After out third year, we believe we have the formula down and look forward to inviting new subscribers to the Pacific Northwest next September.  The book Confessions of a 10-Bagger Junkie is at the printers and we should be offering it to Black Swan’s client list in time for Christmas (Hint! Hint!).

After nearly 17 years of gestation, my partners and I are starting a small/micro-cap LP focused on fewer equity holdings so that we can harness absolute rather than relative return to the portfolio.   

What best describes you, Athlete, Mathlete, Artist or other?  (Please elaborate).

Shlub. In high school I was the “anchor” man for the swim team.  I took second in city in Butterfly only because I outlasted the others on the 400 meter grind.  Now, I plant peonies, raise bees, chop wood, practice the piano and take the very occasional walk with my wife. 

What is the best job you have ever had?

Running a chocolate confection company; advisory work for Force Protection, Inc;. and finally surviving long enough to invest in another small-cap “bull” market. Running the Red Chip wasn’t bad either but the perpetual search for money got to be a drag. Also—and this isn’t a job but part of my life experience, the period from 1982 to 2012 when picking 10-bagger stocks was an annual (via daily work) event.

What is the worst job you have ever had?

Being the head of an institutional research department on Monday, October 19th 1987.   There is nothing invigorating or refreshing about waking-up to a market that you know is going to be bad.  Down 30% in one day brings new meaning to the term, “disaster”.

What is your favorite food?

Salmon.

Where is the most interesting place you have ever been?

The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, which lies within the Kraków metropolitan area                                                                                                                                                                          

Where is your favorited place to be?

Rothenburg ob der Tauber. But since I can’t afford a place there, it’ll have to be Wallowa Lake, Oregon.

What book are you currently reading?

For professional advancement: The Fish that Ate the Whale.  This is about Sam Zemurray United Fruit (Chiquita Banana) fame.  When you think of the banana becoming the most consumed fruit in the USA, the term “Banana Republic”, Tulane University, the ships that transported the escaping Jews to Israel in “Exodus”, you are speaking of the same man.  It is a great read as well as a masterful book on executive management.

For fun: Tim Willocks’ book, The Twelve Children of Paris.  His first book of the trilogy, The Religion, was most definitely one of the best historical novels ever written.     

What is the best book you have ever read?

The Long Walk by Slawomir Rawicz: This is the autobiographical story about a Polish officers march--over thousands of miles by foot--out of Siberia, through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas to British India which is a remarkable statement about man's desire to be free.

If you could go back in time and meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?

Two sets of individuals based on two different subjects.  First, I’d love to meet both Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.  Both unbelievable political leaders. Unbelievably accomplished men.  Writers. Soldiers. There are so many different reasons they are similar, yet amazingly different.

The second set are Bach and Franz Liszt.  Almost all of modern music is founded on the instrumental basics Bach either mastered or created. Besides being a composer of tremendous music, he was an accomplished organist.  His life is not well known and I would think having a chance to discuss his art, performance techniques, two wives and twenty children would be interesting.  Lizst, on the other hand, was the “First Rock Star”.  Although his music was from the piano bench rather than the electric guitar, he was and still is unparalleled in his performance skills, repertoire and numbers of performances made all around Europe and Russia before roads or modern transportation.  He was the first, truly solo, music performer.  Faced the audience.  Played entire programs from memory. Had women throw gloves, underwear, diamonds, jewelry, etc to get his attentions and affections. He traveled more than 4,000 miles a year while performing.  Performed a solo concert for the flood victims of Pest.   Became a catholic priest after he retired the third time and lived in the Vatican.  

Give us the elevator pitch description of your business.

Robins Media produces Books, the newsletter, education lectures and conferences to help investors invest more wisely in small-cap stocks.  Our motto between 1993 and 2002 was “We find tomorrow’s blue chips today” was what we/I did from the late 70s to today and I still do it.

Catalyst Research Management Group/Catalyst Research advises companies and will help investors managing the portfolio as an RIA.   

 

Marc Robins CFA

Catalyst Research

503-781-4559

marc@catalystresearch.com



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