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Tech Industry

Amazon.com skeptic leaves Lehman

Ravia Suria, among the earliest Wall Street analysts to question Amazon.com's viability, will join hedge fund Duquesne Capital Management.

    One of the brokerage world's earliest doubters of Amazon.com and the telecom sector is joining the world of private investment funds.

    Convertible bond analyst Ravia Suria, whose skeptical reports last year presaged a host of downgrades on Amazon stock, said Tuesday he is leaving Lehman Brothers to join hedge fund Duquesne Capital Management.

    "It's a fabulous opportunity" to work in the private fund industry, Suria said. "It's something that I've always wanted to do."

    Although bond observers aren't normally as well-known as equity analysts, Suria stood out because of his willingness to stake out relatively bold positions. He was known for a series of reports suggesting that Amazon soon would face a cash crunch and potentially lose its ability to buy on credit from suppliers.

    He also was among the first to correctly note problems among competitive local exchange carriers and other young telecom companies.

    Suria has been advising investors to avoid Amazon's convertible securities--which have been assigned junk bond status by major credit rating agencies--since last June, when he issued his first report on the online retailer.

    It's not uncommon for analysts at high-profile brokerage firms to jump to funds, which don't share the pressures of public visibility and the need to please often demanding institutional clients.

    Amazon, for instance, publicly blasted Suria's work as "silly" and "chock full of errors," and is said to have tried unsuccessfully to pressure Lehman to moderate the critical tone of his reports.