Curing the blind — that sounds lovely, eh? That’s the headline of the latest ad from Patrick Cox …
… we’ve seen many overpromising ads from Cox’s Breakthrough Technology Alert over the years, and they never fail to catch the attention of the great Gumshoe readership. It is, after all, just the kind of thing that newsletter subscribers yearn for: investments that will be so ridiculously successful that your life will be transformed, turning us all into tycoons. And not incidentally, giving us something to brag about while we’re playing golf with old college buddies.
Funny how rarely that transformational wealth actually happens, eh? At least for me. Still, hope bubbles up from underground — and we wouldn’t have it any other way. What fun is life without daydreams?
“And starting today, here’s how you could become richer than you ever imagined by tapping into the explosive $64 BILLION stem cell market…”
This ad brings us several phrases that sound awfully familiar from past ads — not just from this same editor, Patrick Cox of the Breakthrough Technology Alert, but from lots of folks who dabble in biotech. Phrases like …
“It’s a medical breakthrough that is unprecedented in human history….”
“Could improve and extend the life of every person on earth….”
“… one of the most important companies of our time….”
And of course, if we’re to improve and extend every life, there’s riches in them thar hills:
“ONE tiny California-based company, priced under 80 cents per share, has the exclusive rights to this patented new stem cell technology.”
So yep, it’s another life-changing, the world will never be the same, the buckets of cash will rain down like rain from the sky kind of teaser about stem cell technology. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. So who’s he pitching?
Well, it’s one of the “no embryos” stem cell companies — as Cox puts it,
“technology which has the power to ‘cure’ … by rebuilding damaged cells and generating new tissue … without the use of controversial human embryos”
And the eye business? Curing 10 million blind people?
“… scientists at this tiny biotech have developed a patented process that has the potential to create human corneal tissue from their new stem cell technology.”
This technology can apparently create corneal tissue, which would help with the dire shortage of donor corneas.
Cox goes on to quote an expert as saying that most consumers are reluctant to cut back spending on their health even in a bad economy (there are, of course, plenty of folks who can cite facts pointing to the opposite — that elective procedures, in particular, get postponed during weak economic cycles, but certainly big healthcare companies are often considered to be steady and counter-cyclical — or at least, they were before medical investing became so entwined with patent expirations and regulatory upheaval).
But yes, we can stipulate to Cox’s main point, that biotech companies can “soar on new breakthroughs” even if the economy stinks.
And this breakthrough is apparently that someone can take non-embryos and build human stem cells — Cox simplifies it to say that they take an unfertilized egg and “trick it into growing and dividing.”
Thereby sidestepping, he says, all the political and ethical issues that arise when you’re talking about human embryos. He also says that it might solve the problem of immune suppression and prevent rejection of transplanted stem cells. Sounds impressive, no? That is, if you were willing to sit through his looooong “presentation” on this teaser (for whatever reason, Cox’s ads don’t usually let you get at that handy transcript like most publishers do)
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And he says they have “multiple clinical trials in the works… for Parkinson’s, liver disease, eye disease, and more.”
And that they’ve “taken the first major step” to build a bank of stem cells in the U.S. — whereby, it sounds like, individualized personal stem cells could be banked for future use.
So what’s the company? Well, I’m sure he’ll tell you if you pony up $895 to subscribe to his newsletter and get his special report (which is subtly entitled, “How to Live Longer, Healthier and Richer with this One Tiny California Company’s Potential Stem Cell Miracle.”)
But if you’re like us, “Free” sounds better than $895″ … so let’s feed those clues into the mighty, mighty Thinkolator and see what our solution is, shall we? Of course, or “free” solution doesn’t come with all the fancy-pants explanations that I presume you would get for nine hundred bucks (I guess they’re not doing too bad, they’ve raised the price from the old “discount” of $695) … but we’ll try to get you started.
guardian — discovery of non-embryo stem cells will “truly revolutionize the treatment of life-threatening illnesses”
A few more clues to toss in …
“$58 million market cap at under 85 cents per share…
“128 international patents or patent applications….”
Then, if you’re willing to sit through the whole “presentation” (we did so, but at the cost of much suffering and fidgeting), you even get a couple bonus clues — such as that this company, though it doesn’t yet have any FDA-approved products, does have a “fast-growing skin care line” using an extract that’s based on an accidental discovery from their stem cell research. That has brought a 270% increase in revenue as of the last quarter — and they’re trying to milk this skincare line to provide cash for their core business.
And they’ve also got a “revenue giant” business that sells research-grade stem cell lines to other researchers. That division introduced 30 new products last year.
So those two cash-generating divisions are expected to fund the company internally, and give them the strength to get far enough along to get good partnerships and development deals for the real money-makers that just might cure the blind and eradicate disease and human suffering.
And, of course, lest we forget the promise of great wealth, Cox tells us that …
“a tiny $25,000 stake in this emerging biotech powerhouse could make you as much as $2.1 million, if it all works out as I expect it to, and allow you to retire at your leisure.”
Which gets the drool flowing a bit, even if we consider that most of my readers wouldn’t call a $25,000 stake in a penny stock “tiny.”
But it’s certainly enough to toss into the ol’ Thinkolator — we’re running a little low on propane up here at Gumshoe Castle, but it’s still enough to spin up the ‘olator and get a quick answer for you. This is …
International Stem Cell (ISCO, trades over the counter)
And yes, those who’ve been astride the Stock Gumshoe pocket rocket for more than a few months will recognize the name — turns out, this is one that Cox has teased and touted a few times in the past, though it hasn’t been actively featured as a red-hot pick over the last year or so as far as I’ve seen. I think the last time I wrote about this one at all was for a Breakthrough Technology Alert tease two years ago.
I remember hearing from somewhere that Cox had stopped coverage on ISCO in the last couple years because of conflicts of interest — he was involved somehow in marketing their skincare line, along with fellow marketer/investment newsletter guy John Mauldin, and that got his Agora employers a bit nervous, I guess. Still, this is certainly ISCO that he’s teasing here, so perhaps he’s no longer working with them or the situation has somehow otherwise changed.
ISCO is an interesting three-headed beast of a company for one so small — and small it is, even smaller than Cox’s tease now. It’s down well below $50 million in market cap now that the stock has continued its year-long decline, with a share price down to below 60 cents … even after Cox’s tease running late last week gave the stock a big bump on Friday (and I do mean a BIG jump, it went from about 40 cents to 60 cents, a 50% increase, on no other news that I can find aside from the new Cox ad).
They do have two revenue-growth businesses, with revenue up by over 200% in the last quarter … but that’s still not nearly enough, of course. As of their last report, over nine months they had recorded net losses of just under $9 million. So we can extrapolate that very basic math to say they’ve been losing roughly a million bucks a month. That number had improved slightly in the third quarter, so it was down to maybe $800,000 in losses per month. They did see huge demand, much more than expected, for their cosmetic product launch, and folks aside from Patrick Cox are also forecasting that they have the potential to become break-even or profitable within the next year or two, but they’ll probably have to again raise money before that happens, even in an optimistic scenario (even if their losses drop to half a million bucks a month, they reportedly had less than $3 million in cash at the end of September … so you can do the math).
Still, these ideas from Cox are never about which stock has the cash to avoid dilution, or which one is about to get FDA approval — his companies are almost always far, far earlier in the development process (though he’s also shown that he likes “real” products that might get consumer attention, especially those like ISCO’s cosmetic line or Star Scientific’s Anatabloc that can be sold without FDA review).
It’s a compelling business plan — get rid of wrinkles as a way to fund your cure for blindness — but it’s still a long-range plan, the parthenogenic stem cells (that’s their technology — and yes, they come from unfertilized human eggs) have come a long way since their breakthrough discovery, with pretty impressive milestones passed as they get regulatory approvals for their cell bank and increase their capacity to sell products to other researchers, but it’s still a huge leap ahead to actually develop a stem cell therapy that gets FDA approval to treat one of the dreaded diseases. I’m no biotech expert, but I’d guess that they’re at least a decade from a product in that area.
But then again, if their Lifeline Skin Care products can really get rid of wrinkles better than other creams … well, there are probably plenty of baby boomers out there who would put another mortgage on the house for a shot at that.
The revenue is growing, their skin care product seems to have been at least an initial hit, their “real” science of cell research products is in demand, and their parthenogenic stem cell therapy has wonderful pie-in-the-sky potential eventually. And some folks think their revenue might catch up with expenses by 2014 … so given that, is the company worth $10 million or $200 million today?
Beats the heck out of me — the company has developed fairly steadily on its path in recent years, at least for a teensy OTC stock, but has still seen share prices of both $2.50 and $0.50 over the past year or so, with the very clear trend over the last 12 months being “down.” Feel free to opine below if you’ve got a thought to share.
P.S. Curious about the second report that Cox throws in as a “bonus”? It’s a company that sells a “Super treatment” that will provide you with generations of wealth, and that could be the last stock you’ll ever need as it aims to stop Alzheimer’s Disease. That’s a reiteration of his oft-teased pick of Star Scientific, you can see our comments about it here (I do have a few LEAP options on Star Scientific, just FYI, but it’s definitely very speculative).