Coast to coast
Research-oriented boutique Caris & Company was founded
in 2002 by CEO Darren Caris, who got his start on Wall Street as a
trader at Gruntal and Co., in fact, he rose to become one of the
firm's top 10 producers after just two years on the job. A
graduate of the University of California at San Diego, Caris headed
back west in 1996 to join Torrey Pine Securities in Del Mar,
serving as vice president and building the firm's institutional
sales and equity trading infrastructure. His efforts launched
Torrey Pine into the national spotlight as a market maker in West
Coast tech securities like Dell, Intel, Cisco and Microsoft.
In 1999, Caris moved to San Diego to become a partner of the
Granite Financial Group. There he led the capital markets
business and was responsible for overseeing the institutional
sales, equity research, retail sales, equity trading, operations
and compliance divisions. Caris's eponymous firm was launched
with the idea of bringing bulge bracket-caliber research and
advisory services to Southern California, although these days Caris
has four offices nationwide: firm headquarters in Del Mar, plus
outposts in Boston, New York and San Francisco. In true
California style, CEO Caris spends his downtime surfing.
Equity research is at the heart of Caris & Company's
operations, with a focus on four industry sectors: consumer goods,
health care, technology and energy. The firm's research
platform covers companies that make up more than seventy-five
percent of the S&P 500, and the average market capitalization
of its research companies is $4.5 billion. Caris is careful
to avoid conflicts of interest by drawing a bright line between its
coverage and its advisory, claiming that "Caris & Company is a
research boutique first."
The firm's institutional investors group serves portfolio
managers and buy-side analysts, offering research sales,
institutional sales trading and equity trading. Peter Newman,
a former Thomas Weisel Partners principal, heads Caris'
institutional sales and trading division; the esteemed research
division is directed by David S. Moskowitz, who joined in October
2008 after serving as group head of health care research at FBR
Small bank, big on experience
In addition to its well-respected research products, Caris offers
mergers and acquisitions advisory, corporate advisory, valuations,
public equity capital raising, private equity and venture capital
services. Its advisory and capital services professionals
cater to clients in the technology, biotechnology, health care,
financial, specialty manufacturing and construction industries.
According to the firm, its investment bankers average over
twenty years of experience, and it shows. Over the years
Caris has worked with such clients as Cardax Pharmaceuticals,
Response Genetics, Nextest Systems Corporation, Omnicell Inc. and
SGX Pharmaceuticals; among its most notable public equity
transactions were Spansion's $567 million IPO, Esperion's $64
million follow-on offering and Corgentech's $110 million IPO.
And while Caris has retained its boutique size, perhaps making it
an appealing target for acquisition, founder Darren Caris has yet
to show any signs of selling. As he told American Banker a
few years after launching his firm, "We're too small, and we're too
young to get swallowed up by a bigger commercial bank."