EDITORIAL: Wall Street firms in dire need of PR analysis

Did Wall Street firms supply investors with awful research calls because their analysts were clueless, or because the firms were trying to curry favor with investment-banking clients?

Did Wall Street firms supply investors with awful research calls because their analysts were clueless, or because the firms were trying to curry favor with investment-banking clients?

That's been the PR dilemma facing the big Wall Street firms that are still ensnared in the seemingly interminable stock analyst research scandal. For the firms, it boils down to: Are we dumb or are we dishonest? Yet Jack Grubman, former Salomon Smith Barney star telecom analyst, doesn't seem to like the choice. He explained his behavior as "all of the above." Last Wednesday, The Journal reported that yet another set of damning Wall Street e-mails have surfaced. These e-mails, written by Grubman in early 2001, boasted that he had upgraded AT&T shares in 1999 as part of a scheme to help his boss Sandy Weill solidify his grip on Citigroup, which owns Salomon. Weill and Citigroup were quick to rebut the implications of these e-mails. "[They] are pure fantasy," reads Citigroup's statement. "We can't comment on why Mr. Grubman wrote them. You'll have to ask him." So how did Grubman explain the e-mails away? "Regrettably, I invented a story in an effort to inflate my professional importance," said Grubman's statement. "My research on AT&T was always done on the merits." Some people hate to make choices.

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