Thinkolating on Ray Blanco’s tease: “Fighting The Coronavirus: 3 Companies That Could Save Lives and Make You a Fortune”

Checking out the COVID-19 teaser from Technology Profits Confidential

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, April 2, 2020

I’ve gotten a few questions about the latest Technology Profits Confidential (currently $79/yr) tease from Ray Blanco, so although it’s a few weeks old now, and started circulating right in the heat of the first coronavirus downturn in mid-March, I thought I’d take a look today. It is still a current ad, I got it again from Ray Blanco a day or two ago, and it’s still promising “3 Companies That Could Save Lives and Make You a Fortune” in the fight against the coronavirus.

The first part of Blanco’s “presentation” references the initial White House meetings about the response from pharma companies…

“At 3pm Wednesday, March 4th, I was on the phone with the CEO of a publicly traded company my research says is winning the race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus.

“Just two days earlier, this CEO participated in a pharma industry virus roundtable at the White House, and took part in a briefing of President Donald Trump….

“Here’s what he told me when we talked….

“In short, his company (shares trade under $10 as I write, but are up over 200% in just the last few weeks) started pre-clinical steps testing a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine on January 23.
The company then completed designing their pending human clinical trial on February 29, just days ago.

“Today, the company is preparing 3,000 human trial doses for testing here in the United States.”

And he lays out the kinds of aggressive testing timelines we’ve seen from other biotechs who are trying to get a jump on COVID-19

“By April, the vaccine will be in testing around the world.

“By autumn, full human clinical trial results will be presented and published.

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“By the end of this year, if all testing goes well, up to 1 million doses of the vaccine will have been produced for emergency use.”

And some of the big-picture rationale for investing in these kinds of companies:

Best case, 3 companies I want to share with you today, and one in particular… the under – $10 a share company I told you about earlier… get in front of COVID-19 in the worst hit areas in the months ahead.

“That would rocket share prices higher for the company that develops a working vaccine… make fast movers a fortune… and save tens of thousands if not millions of lives.

“It would, simply put, be the biggest market story any of us have seen in years.

“And it’s unfolding all around us right now.”

So that’s the hint-dropping about his first stock, and there are two others to get to as well — what are they?

A few other hints about the first one:

“This company has a record with unique virus outbreaks, and has a MERS vaccine in Phase 2 testing right now.

“The company received $56 million in funding from The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop the MERS vaccine in testing now.

“… if you’re going to put your chips on one company in this fast-moving crisis, it’s this CEO’s company.”

So that, along with the photo that Blanco lifts from the White House meeting, is clearly a reference to CEO Joseph Kim and Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) (you can see the original clip from the meeting at CSPAN here if you like).

And yes, the stock of Inovio did surge higher in the early days of the crisis, right around that White House meeting when the CEO claimed to be the worldwide leader in coronavirus vaccine development. Not long after INO claimed to have developed a new vaccine for the virus in three hours, the class-action law firms and short-sellers jumped all over those claims and wondered whether the CEO might perhaps be exaggerating a bit.

I don’t know how it will work out, certainly we all hope that Inovio and its competitors quickly develop life-saving vaccines for the coronavirus, and they might, but there are a lot of companies involved and Inovio is not the one that inspires the most confidence in me, personally. That’s OK, since I don’t generally try to speculate on individual biotechs, perhaps you’ve got more patience with that sector and will find INO’s work compelling — they have been working on these kinds of diseases for a long time, they have been working on a five-year grant from CEPI (that’s the $56 million one teased) to develop MERS and other vaccines since 2018, and they did get another $9 million grant in January for the coronavirus vaccine work, then another $5 million grant from the Gates Foundation in early March to help speed up development of their vaccine delivery device. They do plan to start human trials this month, though they don’t expect to publish their results until the Fall so it might be a while before we have any results that will shift investor perceptions.

Inovio was also one of Ian Wyatt’s teased picks that we wrote about a couple weeks ago, with his ads still rolling as well, and it has been trotted out and teased by pretty much any biotech newsletter you can think of over the past 6-8 years as it has been associated with development of new vaccines or vaccine technologies to fight Zika, Ebola, develop cancer immunotherapies, or whatever else is prominent in the headlines. Hopefully it will work, we’ll see.

Then the pitch moves on to the other two companies — and one of them is a “freebie” that actually gets named in the ad:

“I’ve discovered three fast movers that I’m confident will be the answer to our collective prayers in the midst of the chaos…

“Saving the lives of potentially millions of people worldwide and giving early investors the chance at massive gains.

“The first company leading the charge is the $25 billion pharma giant, Regeneron.”

Certainly Regeneron has been in the news plenty of times for the coronavirus, and as a result it’s now a $50 billion company, not a $25 billion one (though to be fair, the price has risen only 50% since the January lows, it hasn’t actually been below a $30 billion market cap in more than five years). You can see the COVID-19 efforts they’re making now, including testing an existing antibody drug and trying to develop a new one, on their COVID-19 update page here. I’d be more inclined to look at an established company with antivirals or antibodies that might be effective therapeutics in the near term, since they could make a big impact a lot faster than a vaccine could, but it’s also a pretty high-risk bet that any particular therapy will work… or, perhaps more importantly from an investment perspective, whether it would make a lot of money. No established company, like Regeneron or Gilead, is going to want to be a price gouger for antiviral treatments, and the burst of coronavirus therapeutics business, even if successful, is likely be a one-year event. I love that every pharma company is stepping up to try to treat this pandemic, and it will presumably be of financial benefit to a bunch of companies to some degree, but I’d be hesitant to bet on any particular drug as likely to create a financial windfall.

Regeneron is a relatively safe bet within the “biotech” space, they’re profitable and growing at a decent clip without their COVID-19 work, with a forward PE of only 18, so the stock could certainly drop back down by 30% if the folks trading the coronavirus news move on to other things, but the biggest risk is probably that investors might refocus on the patent cliff danger of their lead drug, Eylea, as competition comes in and the patent expires in a few years. They do have a half dozen approved drugs, but Eylea is the big earnings generator, and, as with all biotechs, there’s plenty of uncertainty in their pipeline (though there are another eight drugs in Phase 3 trials, so there’s also hope for revenue replacement eventually). A coronavirus treatment, if quickly successful, might be well-timed for Regeneron to plug some of the potential revenue gap from Eylea for a couple years while other drugs are developed, but I’d guess it would probably be more of a news generator than a profit center.

And, of course, I’m not at all a biotech expert so I shouldn’t be guessing on the possible permutations at all… let’s move on and see what the other “secret” name is…

“A Therapeutic AND a Vaccine…

“This Second Company Could Solve The ‘COVID-19 Crisis’

“The second company that has my attention in the fight against COVID-19 is a California biotech pioneer treating some of the most destructive viruses in history for over 30 years.

“And they’ve got the track record to back them up.

“In 2016, they pushed through the only vaccine proven to prevent a virus that has killed over 32 million people.

“And they could do it again with COVID-19.

“The most exciting part?

“The medication they’re testing now could work as both a treatment and a vaccine…

“Preventing millions of people from contracting the virus… while saving the lives of countless others who have already contracted it.”

That sounds exciting, right? We need a therapeutic now, and understand that a vaccine for the mass population would be at least a year away… but wouldn’t it be nice to combine the two?

Other clues:

“They’ve seen positive results in infected mice….

“… they’ve seen similar results with one patient suffering from COVID-19 in Washington state.

“Now, obviously it takes more than one case to prove it’s both safe and effective…

“But that’s why they’re rushing to test this medication throughout China and Southeast Asia as soon as possible.

“They’re starting trials this month and expect to have results back within months…”

So who’s that? Thinkolator sez this must be another tease of Gilead (GILD), which has long been a leader in HIV medicines and other antivirals (HIV/AIDs has killed over 32 million, as teased), including preventives, though it’s best known in recent years for being part of effectively curing Hepatitis C in millions of people.

And yes, the stock has gotten a boost of 20% or so this year as they’ve rolled out testing in the past few weeks to see if remdesivir, an investigational antiviral that they’ve tested in lots of other viruses over the years, including Ebola, will work to ease COVID-19 symptoms. Gilead is the stock I’d find most compelling of the many coronavirus “story stocks” being talked up, but it’s not one I’ve bought and I’m not terribly likely to speculate on individual pharmaceutical or biotech stocks. It was also one of the ideas pitched by Ian Wyatt a few weeks back, so I’ll just re-share what I wrote then:

This must be Gilead (GILD), which is probably the most prominent large antiviral company — and is also, coincidentally enough, the largest component of the iShares Biotechnology ETF (if you buy IBB, about 9.5% of the money you invest is buying GILD shares). The shares are well off their highs of 2015, mostly because of the declining sales of their Hepatitis C drugs (Sovaldi and Harvoni) as those populations who were relatively easy to cure with those drugs washed through the system pretty quickly.

And yes, they’ve been in the headlines this year because one of their experimental drugs, remdesivir, has shown initial promise in some early “compassionate use” cases for COVID-19 patients, and is being tested in some larger cohorts right now to see if it’s relatively safe and effective in treating this new viral disease. That 900 patients bit isn’t exactly accurate, it’s more like 1,000 at this point who they intend to treat in the trials, but it’s close and that’s from his speaking, not from any written materials. Likewise, Gilead is not currently led by a Nobel laureate, but has had several Nobel Prize winners on its board in the past.

It’s also true that Gilead looks quite undervalued compared to most biotechs and many pharmaceutical companies — that’s mostly just because they aren’t expected to grow their revenue over the next few years, and companies that don’t grow have lower PE ratios, all else being equal, than companies with robust revenue and earnings growth. As with many larger biotech and pharma names, it’s mostly about maximizing their revenue from blockbuster drugs and managing the pipeline so that new drugs can be approved to replace drugs that lose their patent protection and go generic (or, like Gilead’s Hepatitis C drugs, see a declining market).

Gilead doesn’t have any net debt (cash and debt are roughly equal), and it is nicely profitable and pays a good dividend, so that looks fairly attractive these days when investors are suddenly more worried about “survival” than “growth,” but they are not all that likely to get a huge financial boost from COVID-19 this year. It’s possible that remdesivir will be a hugely successful treatment for the disease, and I hope it is, it showed some success with MERS and SARS after failing to be effective against Ebola and has some safety concerns but still seems to be at the top of the list of “most hopeful” drugs right at the moment… but even if that’s the case, it’s not certain that Gilead would push it through with windfall pricing or turn it into a mega-blockbuster in the next year or two.

I have no idea how it will work out, but Gilead is a strong company with a lot of financial flexibility and huge resources in developing antiviral drugs, so I wouldn’t try to talk you out of it — just keep in mind that any short-term moves the stock might have (so far it has clearly reacted to the COVID-19 news but is mostly just doing “less bad” than the market, not rocketing higher), are likely to be story-driven more than financials-driven, it takes a few billion dollars to really make an impact on GILD’s revenue line. And on the flip side, of course, some disappointing results from these remdesivir trials could take a lot of wind out of their sails.

So the remdesivir “story” is both the upside and the downside potential for Gilead — here’s an updated chart of Gilead compared to the iShares US Pharmaceuticals ETF (IHE) year-to-date — you can see that GILD (in blue) has done well during the coronavirus panic while most of big pharma has not… which means that if GILD loses it’s “story” position in relation to coronavirus because remdesivir turns out to be too dangerous, or doesn’t work in these trials (we’ll know more probably around the end of April, they haven’t said exactly when they’ll publicize results but presumably this will all move as quickly as possible), then Gilead in this environment would be “just another big drug stock” and might join its cohort down there along that orange line.

GILD Chart

And that’s about all I’ve got to share with you about Ray Blanco’s three “coronavirus fighter” stocks — one hugely story-driven vaccine hopeful, and a couple big biotechs that are holding up pretty well thanks to the coronavirus story but also have real income-generating businesses in other areas. Gilead, Regeneron, Moderna (MRNA) and Inovio are the four most-cited story stocks for the coronavirus that I’ve seen in my reading, but there are dozens of others that would like to be in that category as well — Marketwatch posted a list of 19 of them in a piece on Wednesday if you’d like to sniff around for more speculative ideas in the space, and Barron’s wrote earlier in the week about the nine ongoing vaccine programs that are making some progress.

I’m crossing my fingers that there will be some huge successes, and I trust that science will improve the coronavirus picture at some point over the next year, but I’m not betting on any of the individual players in this race. If you are, or think some of these companies are more appealing than others, please do let us know with a comment below… thanks for reading!

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5 months ago

CAPR Capricor Initiates Compassionate Use Program for Severe COVID-19 Patients using CAP-1002, its Novel Cell Therapy
April 03, 2020

-CAP-1002 Aims to Mitigate Severe Inflammatory Response Associated with COVID-19-

-Expanded Access Protocol Submitted to FDA-

Add a Topic
👍 11476
5 months ago

You are able to extend the life of masks by inserting / changing coffee filters. Best 2 All!

Add a Topic
👍 11476
sean gibbs
sean gibbs
5 months ago
Reply to  SoGiAm

stay dry nursing pads work as well. Linosoh (60) in a box

Carbon Bigfootnsume..
Carbon Bigfootnsume..
5 months ago

Eat a pound of dirt–my mother’s heath cure. Drop food on the ground wipe off and it is OK to consume. Corona viruses dwell in soil(dirt). One develops a natural immunity over time.
Dogs have a natural immunity (so they say) I live with my three rescues.

5 months ago

If the dirt or the floor contain pathogens your immune system recognizes, and assuming you aren’t immune-compromised, you are right. But the soil does NOT “naturally” contain the current novel corona virus that jumped from animal to human. That is why it is novel — we have no way to recognize and fight it naturally. Your dogs may be immune because they are dogs. You are immune to distemper and viruses that may harm them. One million+ documented cases and over 55k deaths from this new virus that produces the COVID-19 illness in humans demonstrates how not immune we are to it.

Carbon Bigfootnsume..
Carbon Bigfootnsume..
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Small potatoes when it comes to viruses H1N1 Swine Flu killed 575,000 world wide an in 2012 ABC News termed it a mild pandemic. Anecdotal information from someone who had the virus:

5 months ago

Swine flu may have been deemed a “mild” pandemic by WHO compared, say, to the 1918 Pandemic. But a pandemic it was. Thank goodness a vaccine against it is part of the annual flu shot. Perhaps we haven’t seen its resurgence because enough people get one. We won’t know what the death toll of Covid-19 is until next year sometime, if ever –many deaths are not being tested for Covid-19 because tests are such scare and precious resources . We don’t know how much more virulent and contagious Covid-19 is compared to past pandemic viruses, but what is fairly evident is that countries like S Korea, that implemented strict control measures, so far have seen fewer cases and deaths than those where those preventive measures were implemented too late, half-heartedly , or not at all.

Carbon Bigfoot
Carbon Bigfoot
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

But there are a number of important facts about the 1918 flu that are not widely known:

• The 1918 flu was not caused by a virus.
• The 1918 flu was not contagious and did not spread by direct human-to-human contact.
• The 1918 flu began on U.S. military bases where soldiers were being trained in wireless telegraphy. It spread throughout the world on ten thousand U.S. Navy ships equipped with state-of-the-art wireless stations. It became much more deadly in September 1918 when the first round-the-clock voice radio station powerful enough to be received in most parts of the world went on the air in New Brunswick, New Jersey in service of the U.S. war effort, thereby launching the modern era of radio communication.

Efforts by doctors working for the U.S. Public Health Service to prove the contagious nature of the 1918 flu were heroic and resulted in resounding and repeated failure. In November and December 1918 and in February and March 1919, they attempted to infect one hundred healthy volunteers with influenza in the following ways:

• They put secretions from the mouth, nose, throat and bronchi from hospitalized influenza patients into the nose, throat and eyes of volunteers;
• They injected blood from sick patients into volunteers;
• They filtered mucous material from sick patients and injected it under the skin of volunteers;
• They had volunteers shake hands with sick patients, talk to them, faces close together, for five minutes, then had the patient breathe out as hard as he could while the volunteer, two inches away, was breathing in, then had the patient cough directly into the face of the volunteer, five times.

None of these volunteers in this experiment got sick in anyway.

Similar attempts to infect healthy horses with secretions from horses sick with influenza resulted in the same resounding failure.

These experiments, and other facts about the 1918 flu, as well as about influenza in general, are thoroughly discussed and documented in chapters 7, 8 and 9 of the book The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life (AGB Press 2017, Chelsea Green 2020).

5 months ago

$VRUS Gaithersburg, MD, April 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Verus International, Inc. (“Verus” or the “Company”) (OTCQB: VRUS) is pleased to announce that it has acquired a controlling 51% interest in ZC Top Apparel Manufacturing, Inc. (“ZC Top”), a Philippines-based maker of reusable N95 fabric masks and biohazard suits.

ZC Top produces a highly sought-after, premium mask that is N95 compliant and constructed of a washable shell and a multi-layer filter than can provide protection for three days before replacement. The multi-layer filter consists of BFE99, PFE99 melt-blown and spun-bond polypropylene, which are the same materials used in medical surgical and N95 disposable masks. The masks also feature an activated carbon filter that functions like a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, giving an additional layer of protection compared to a regular N95 mask.

The ZC Top masks also incorporate exhalation valve technology to facilitate smoother breathing, along with cotton construction to create a high-quality reusable mask that is more comfortable and cost effective than many other anti-viral mask designs.

“Investors may be surprised to see us enter this business, but we have international trade experience that is highly sought after in this current environment. We were approached early in the COVID-19 crisis by the management team at ZC Top, who were experiencing an overwhelming number of requests for protective gear from governments and other entities around the world,” explained Verus International CEO Anshu Bhatnagar. “We are providing the funding and other resources to begin filling these pending orders as quickly as possible. We are not yet prepared to provide revenue estimates, but based on initial demand, we believe protective gear could eclipse all of our existing revenue sources.” Best!

👍 11476
5 months ago

Verus International, Inc. (“Verus” or the “Company”) (OTCQB: VRUS) is pleased to announce that it has acquired a controlling 51% interest in ZC Top Apparel Manufacturing, Inc. (“ZC Top”), a Philippines-based maker of reusable N95 fabric masks and biohazard suits.

👍 11476
5 months ago

VRUS in moderation please Travis or Lynn