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Furman senior grabs Forbes honor

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By Teresa C. Hopkins
thopkins@scbiznews.com
Published Feb. 19, 2016

Christopher Drose never suspected his interest in researching stocks would garner him national attention, but that’s just what happened. The Furman University senior has been named one of Forbes magazine’s fifth-annual 30 Under 30 in finance.

The magazine’s 2016 list recognizes “America’s most important young entrepreneurs, creative leaders and brightest stars” in 20 categories, including art and style, sports, music, education, science and media. Drose was the youngest person included in the finance category.

At 21, Christopher Drose is the youngest person profiled in Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 in finance. He was recognized for his investigative research of stocks. (Photo by Teresa C. Hopkins)
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In its write-up on the 21-year-old Drose, Forbes said the “Furman University senior founded a stock research outfit that specializes in short ideas. His detailed report on American Addiction Centers caused the company’s stock to fall by as much as 50% in August to levels from which it has still not recovered.”

I look for stocks that are misrepresenting themselves and companies that use aggressive accounting or misleading statements,” Drose said.

He said his research has uncovered a lot of companies with questionable practices. He wrote about the companies on his website, Bleeker Street Research. His reporting on one company, American Addiction Center Holdings Inc., alleged widespread negligence at the company and pushed the stock down as much as 54% and knocked nearly $387 million off its market capitalization, according to information from Furman University. In early January the company’s stock price was still off 57% from its high.

His reporting caught the attention of The Wall Street Journal, which caught the attention of Forbes.

“It was all so unexpected,” Drose said of the national attention and the Forbes listing. Last summer he had worked with an editor at Forbes on a story about American Addiction Center Holdings Inc. In October the editor contacted Drose and told him he was going to nominate him for the 30 Under 30 list.

“Then I didn’t hear anything else,” he said.

Drose didn’t think anymore of the Forbes list until his winter break from school. It was on a January day when he had just finished playing a round of golf that he checked his phone for any missed messages.

“I saw a bunch of congratulations texts and had no idea what was going on,” he said. “A lot of people knew before I did … My aunt knew and posted it on Facebook before I ever knew.”

Drose, from Charleston, is an English major and also studies and has an interest in economics. He plans to join a hedge fund in Atlanta after he graduates from Furman in May.

He said he has always had an interest in stocks and really started studying the field when he took a freshman seminar taught by Thomas Smythe, associate professor of business and accounting.

“The seminar focused on financial bubbles and market crises. We would have discussions on how a market can become overvalued,” Smythe said. ”He seemed to fall in love with it and pursued it even more on his own.

“He sees the broader story in his research beyond the numbers and approaches it from a different perspective,” Smythe said. “He’s really good at research, and he’s an excellent writer.”

As for Drose being included in Forbes 30 Under 30, Smythe said he is in an elite class. “The odds of anyone included in a list like that are slim.”

As a freshman Drose started writing for the financial website Seeking Alpha. Following that he created his own website, Bleeker Street Research, so he could have more independence in his writing.

When asked how it makes him feel to know his research and findings can affect the value of a company, Drose said it can be exciting.

“It’s something you really have to make sure you are right about and go above and beyond the work to make sure the story is right,” he said.

In addition to the website he created, Drose has interned at Furman University’s investment office, where he worked with Chief Investment Officer Kris Kapoor.

“Chris has been one of the hardest working students I’ve known here at Furman,” Kapoor said. “Aside from his coursework and extracurricular activities, he’s constantly asking us in the Furman investment office for more information and resources to make himself a better investor. I firmly believe it’s this extraordinary intellectual curiosity that has opened many doors for Chris.”

In forecasting the general future of companies and stocks, Drose said, “I think companies have a business model right now that revolves around hiking drug prices. I think there is going to be, and already is, a lot of scrutiny on that. Investors in those companies need to be careful.”

Reach Teresa C. Hopkins at 864-235-5677, ext. 103, or @SCBizTeresa on Twitter.

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