What the Heck is an “Imperium” Machine? How Can it Make us Rich?

What's "The Next Intel" Being Pitched by Adam O'Dell as a play on the "199,000% DNA Mega Trend?"

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, July 22, 2021

This article was originally published on April 12, 2021. We’re re-posting it here in response to a new wave of questions, and the ad in question continues to circulate, but what follows has not been updated.

Adam O’Dell is pitching an “Imperium” machine and the world-changing returns that might come from… and, as you might imagine, his favorite “one small company” that is the best investment play on those changes. So let’s dig in and see what he’s talking about, shall we?

O’Dell used to be a market technician specialist for the Harry Dent newsletters, which got “dissolved” and were sucked up by Banyan Hill a year or two ago, and now he’s off in his own corner as the investment strategist for Money & Markets, which I guess remains either owned by or affiliated with Banyan Hill (he’s the only “name” there these days). This particular ad is for his Green Zone Fortunes, an entry level letter ($47/yr) that profiles one stock that’s “in the zone” each month. He generally focuses on technical and quantitative analysis, so I guess in some ways he’s playing in a similar sandbox to folks like Louis Navellier — screening and grading stocks to rank them.

The only pitch of his that I’ve looked at recently was last summer, that was a gold stock spiel and, well, the three mainstream gold stocks he pitched were, as you might expect, levered to gold prices — gold is down about 3% since then, so two of the stocks are down about 25-30% and the third is down 6%. If you bought all three and held, you would have lost some money at this point… and at the best moment, when gold peaked a couple months after those picks were pitched, you would have done roughly as well with those three stocks as if you had bought a gold goin, a hair better if you sold at the absolute peak (which was on my birthday in August, as luck would have it). I note that only to remind you that nobody is magic, and nobody has a “system” that picks the right stock all the time… but, as always, we’ll try to judge each investment idea we hear on its own merits.

So what’s he peddling today? What is this “Imperium” business? He starts out with what looks like a blueprint of a special machine…

“Take a good look at this machine…

“Study it and commit its every feature to memory.

“Because inside this machine is a technology that will be the most transformative in history….

“It’s a technology I call … Imperium.

“And it’s truly mankind’s next great leap forward…

“All told, it’s set to disrupt global industries worth a total of $64 trillion…”

Sounds pretty good, right? Global GDP is about $90 trillion, so boom, we get to disrupt 2/3 of that? Sounds super fun.

So how does one invest in this disruption? Say it after me, “one small company”…

“Yet one small-cap company … the company that makes this machine … is at the forefront of it all.

“And today, you have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to invest in this company … starting with a small stake.

“You’ll want to get in right away.

“Because investing in “Imperium” now could be like getting into internet stocks in the early 1990s…

“Where rare and exceptional stocks like Intel shot up more than 8,000% in 10 years.”

So what’s the story? This is, as you’ve probably already guessed, some sort of genetic testing company. And no, it’s not my all-time favorite company in the space, DNA Friend, so who is it?

We get the rundown of usual suspects who are involved, a list of names that is typically meant to inspire confidence:

“Jeff Bezos recently added to a $100 million investment…

“Elon Musk says Imperium is “amazing…”

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“Bill Gates’ investment fund is contributing to a $429 million investment… saying Imperium is ‘one of the most powerful technologies of the 21st century’…

“Mark Zuckerberg’s $3 billion fund is heavily backing ‘Imperium’…

“And Peter Thiel … a man that Forbes, Fortune and the New Yorker all call the best tech investor in history… He’s adding to a $110 million investment.”

Those people are not all invested in the same company, of course, but those are references to DNA-related investments those bigwigs have made, particularly into companies that are synthesizing DNA — like Peter Thiel’s backing of Synthego or Bill Gates’ bet on Gingko Bioworks (there are rumors about Gingko considering a SPAC merger with Soaring Eagle Acquisition (SRNGU), just FYI, but as of now Gingko and Synthego are still private).

So what’s our little genetic engineering or synthetic DNA stock today? Might it even be a more general genomics company? Let’s see what other clues O’Dell drops…

“‘We are at the cusp of [Imperium] really entering the mainstream.’ — MIT Scientist”

OK, so that’s just a quote from Illumina CEO Francis deSouza (yes, he did go to MIT — though he’s been a tech executive for 30 years since then), and the quote is now three years old. Yes, genomics and gene sequencing is probably past the “inflection point” now, given dramatically lowered costs for gene sequencing and the many practical uses that are already becoming pretty mainstream (like targeting cancers with specific drugs based on the genotype of the disease or the patient, for example).

And yes, Illumina (ILMN) is a pretty easy first choice if you’re looking into genomics companies — they’re huge (market cap $60 billion, $3 billion in sales) and could never be considered a “small cap,” so definitely that’s not the stock being pitched here, but they are the largest and most dominant “pure play” on genetic sequencing as a business. They have leading market share in sequencing machines and all the related products and servic