“Breakthrough Defense Technology — MIT Scientists Hail It As ‘The End of Disability'”

Checking on a robotics teaser pitch for the Friday File

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, September 21, 2015

Today we’re releasing an old Friday File for all of our free readers (and as a reminder for any Irregulars who missed it the first time around) — this ad has been running off and on for a long time, but we covered it on July 10 and the article below is not updated. The story is still essentially the same, and the versions of the ad that I’ve seen are the same — the company has reported one additional quarter now, with continued progress more or less on the same pace they were showing in the prior quarter (ie, continued unit growth, sales growth, and expense growth, no huge boom in installed base yet, and nowhere near sales that are large enough to absorb their selling expenses, overhead or R&D costs).

So… it’s still a story, still interesting, still all about the future and how you see it… with that, I’ll leave you to it.

—from 7/10/15—

Today, for your Friday File pleasure, I don’t have any portfolio updates or changes to talk to you about so I thought I’d take a quick look at a tiny little robotics company that’s being teased (again). I’ve never written about this one before, but it has come up in reader discussions from time to time — probably, in large part, because the technology is “cool” and has gotten a lot of attention in the press, and because Keith Fitz-Gerald over at Money Morning has been an ardent fan since at least last Fall.

This pitch isn’t from Fitz-Gerald, though, it’s from Jim Pearce over at Investing Daily, in an ad for his Smart Tech Investor newsletter. This is a $49 newsletter, so it’s one of those “entry level” inexpensive letters that the publishers use to generate a pool of potential customers for their more profitable $200-$5,000 letters… and that means they’re taking some chances here, because they’re talking up a microcap stock (market cap around $100 million) for what is intended to be (though I don’t know what their circulation is) a mass-market newsletter, which sometimes results in a stock that reacts much more to the newsletter’s attention than to the actual fundamentals of the company.

Maybe that’s for the best, though, as the “fundamentals” for this one are, though enticing and promising, quite future-oriented. That’s a nice way of saying that the current valuation is ridiculous based on their achieved results, so current investors are clearly anticipating something much better in the future.

So what’s the stock? The one being touted here by Pearce is Ekso Bionics (EKSO), which is one of a handful of companies trying to develop powered exoskeletons. These are primarily in demand right now in the health care and rehabilitation sectors, where $100,000 robotic legs can help people walk (or, at least, start to learn to walk) after injury or paralysis, but a fair amount of the R&D funding is also coming from the military, which in addition to being interested in rehab is interested in the future “iron man” potential war-fighting capacity of exoskeleton robotics (and, before that, in the ability o