|Ted and Michele Rollins|
I read an article yesterday that was written by a financial reporter and intended for investors. When I finished reading, my immediate thought was, "Do these people think only about ways to make money--and nothing else?"
The answer seems to be yes, that's exactly how they think. That's certainly the impression a reasonable person could take from the article, a report at The Wall Street Transcript (TWST) about Campus Crest Communities and its CEO, Ted W. Rollins.
Rollins is a hot topic on Wall Street because his company completed a $380-million IPO last year. Those kinds of numbers will get investors' attention. Tampa-based Raymond James Financial put together the deal.
We have written a number of posts about Campus Crest and its leader--and we have presented substantial evidence to indicate that Rollins operates on a shaky set of ethics. Was there a hint of that in the TWST article? Not a peep.
Do the investors who read TWST care about such things? Apparently not. Maybe that's why investors seem to get taken in so many scams these days.
The Wall Street Transcript is a subscriber site, but you can read an excerpt from the article here. What appears to be the full version of the interview is available at Yahoo! Finance.
I've tried to interview Ted Rollins twice, about matters connected to his company and about the peculiar divorce case he somehow had moved from South Carolina to Alabama--even though jurisdiction already had been established when Sherry Carroll Rollins filed for divorce in Greenville, South Carolina, where the couple lived. So far, Ted Rollins has refused to answer my questions, claiming that he would be glad to respond if I sent him questions in writing, through his PR firm. That, of course, would not be an interview; it probably would be an exercise in corporate damage control, with responses filtered through lawyers and such. When I pointed out that his ex wife had granted multiple interviews, with no strings attached, Ted Rollins was not swayed. He still wanted to be protected by his PR/legal team.
Since Ted Rollins seems afraid to answer questions directly from Legal Schnauzer, I found it curious that he apparently was more than willing to sit down with The Wall Street Transcript. What kind of probing questions were put to Ted Rollins? Here is a sampling:
TWST: Please give us a brief history of Campus Crest Communities and an overview of the company and its operations today.
Mr. Rollins: We started about seven years ago. We basically looked at the student housing market, and it was apparent that there was a real need for our product - not only in primary markets, but even more so in secondary markets, which is our main focus. If you think about it in terms of any given state, you'll have a flagship campus--for example, in North Carolina, where we're based, UNC Chapel Hill is the flagship--but you'll also have a lot of great schools like UNC Wilmington, UNC Charlotte, UNC Asheville, these are all schools that need additional beds to continue to grow or to replace some obsolescent beds on campus. That really has been our primary target. We've spent seven years working on these markets, such as UNC secondary schools, or in states such as Texas, where we have a large number of properties. If you look at the industry as a whole, there are two general comments that you can make.
One is that there is a limited supply. It's constrained because of the lack of capital available, and it's constrained with state budgetary cuts over the last few years. But at the same time, there is a growing demand. There are more kids going to college. They're staying longer. And although the Baby Boom's children, the Echo Boom, growth is dipping slightly over the next few years, this attendance is still at record levels. In addition to that, if you look at total enrollment, growth is continuing because the graduation rate at high schools is up. And of these graduates, a higher percentage are electing to attend college full time. In addition, foreign enrollment is on the rise. So those components are pretty compelling.
That is, indeed, pretty compelling stuff. But what about "the rest of the story" with Ted Rollins and Campus Crest Communities? Legal Schnauzer readers are learning about it. Consider some of our storylines:
* Ted Rollins and his company do not treat women and minorities so well;
* Public records indicate Ted Rollins, perhaps with help from his lawyer buddies at the Birmingham firm of Bradley Arant has used the justice system in an abusive fashion;
* Public documents indicate that Ted Rollins used his connections to help administer a colossal cheat job to his ex wife, Sherry Carroll Rollins, and their two daughters;
* Ted Rollins is from one of the nation's wealthiest Republican families, a clan that apparently does not mind throwing its weight around in a courtroom;
* Michele Rollins, Ted's stepmother, ran as a Republican in a 2010 Delaware Congressional race. She has close ties to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas;
* Campus Crest has almost 30 student-housing developments across the country, including plans for one at Auburn University. Ted Rollins essentially is selling an image to college students and their parents. He presents himself as a CEO who is concerned about providing wholesome, healthful living environments for young people--to promote their academic and personal growth. But public documents indicate that young people under Ted Rollins' care--his two biological children with Sherry Carroll Rollins, plus his two stepsons from her previous marriage--do not fare so well.
Do investors care about such matters of fundamental right and wrong? Maybe they should. Maybe they should spend more time reading Legal Schnauzer and less time reading The Wall Street Transcript.
While they are at it, investors might want to take a look at the following document. It's a child-support affidavit from Ted Rollins' divorce case in Alabama. Rollins states, under oath, that he makes approximately $50,000 a year. Investors might want to look at Ted Rollins' background--including the multiple private planes at his disposal--and ask themselves, "Did this guy tell the truth, in a sworn document, about his earnings? If not, what does that say about how he might run a company?"
Vivek "Vick" Seth, managing partner at Raymond James, helped put together Campus Crest's $380-million IPO. Investors who have sunk money into the deal might want to direct some tough questions toward Mr. Seth--especially since Ted Rollins doesn't want to answer tough questions from me.
Rollins CS-41 Form