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  • Cannabis Investment: The Grass Ain't Green, It's Brown [View article]
    To the general discussion of how the landscape in the world of marijuana production and distribution is changing you might add the robberies and violence that are increasingly plaguing the retail shops in Colorado. Yepper, banks, liquor stores and now pot shops. This is what happens when you keep tons of cash and high quality drugs in one location...
    Feb 6, 2014. 10:45 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • ImmunoCellular's ICT-107 Phase II: Patience Will Pay Off [View article]
    Any comment on this reprint from a recent Red Acre blog (Rajesh Patel, Ph.D. on Sun, 12/08/2013) ? I'm particularly pointing to the third paragraph.

    "On Tuesday IMUC announced that it had expanded it's manufacturing relationship with Progenitor Cell Therapy, LLC, a subsidiary of NeoStem, Inc (NASDAQ:NBS). This announcement was hinted at by IMUC in their #q conference call. The company indicated that they were investing in certain manufacturing process improvements this year instead of waiting until next year. Here is a key sentence from the press release:

    "These process improvements are intended to increase quality, consistency, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, and support ImmunoCellular's vaccine manufacturing requirements for conducting potential phase III registration trials and for commercial manufacturing. [emphasis added]

    "Did you catch the part about supporting manufacturing for phase III trials? The take-away from that sentence is that ICT-107 will need to undergo phase 3 trials prior to approval. The company does not expect accelerated approval to be in the cards due to, among other things, the fact that the manufacturing process used for the phase 2 trials is not the final process that would be used in commercial production. Management has reiterated this view on several conference calls.

    "All in all, the expanded manufacturing agreement helps IMUC both prepare for the upcoming ICT-140 trial which is due to start early next year, as well as get it's ducks in a row for a potential phase 3 trial and eventual commercialization of ICT-107 (that is, if the phase 2 results demonstrate a clinical benefit of course).

    "This week, IMUC dipped below $3 again. Our call to premium members to take profits last week was well-timed. Unfortunately, IMUC management's refusal to disclose the occurrence of the 64th event means that the stock will be subject to the kinds of wild swings we saw over the past week to 10 days. If management were to announce either the 64th event, or the database lock, the stock might find a more steady footing. We're on record indicating why we think the 64th event may have already happened based on subtle cues from management. We received some spirited pushback regarding this view, mostly from folks insisting that we must be short because we view the ICT-107 phase 1 results with a healthy dose of skepticism. As we've explained in the past, at Red Acre, we spend the our time trying to find good trades on the long side. With a long trade, the potential return is unlimited while the potential loss is finite. With a short bet, the dynamics are reversed, The maximum you can make is 100% and the maximum you can lose is unlimited. We spend our time trying to find the good long bets, but this does not mean that everything we write about is a favorable view on a company - we calls 'em like we sees 'em. Skepticism really is your friend in successful biotech investing - especially on the long side."

    We have no position in IMUC.
    Dec 11, 2013. 01:33 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • MusclePharm Fails To Pump Me Up [View article]
    Doug: Didn't want to have a nutrition treatise distract from the subject at hand. Let me take a moment to once again compliment you for the absolutely superb job you did with this piece. You really have hit the fundamentals, and this is huge. I got into MSLP in the area of 5, watched it go to 12, have watched the descent... Always looking for information, and you delivered. So again, REALLY appreciate the depth and the efforts.

    My issue, and I'll be brief, was the inference that there is no scientific basis for using products such as those supplied by MSLP and many others. And I do understand your well positioned stance on this. Overall, the criticism of supplements and nutritionally dense foods is theoretically correct and practically impossible. I'm not sure that we have adequately acknowledged and addressed the marketing and other forces driving support for entities like NGVC, WFM, HAIN and so on. This is a theater populated by well educated, usually upper income, often disenfranchised individuals who want to stay out of the clutches of the government and the so-called health care system. They have this unique idea of taking total responsibility for what happens within their bodies. And yes, this includes body builders, and I guarantee you these guys aren't stupid or naive. They seek verifiably certified, high quality nutrient dense supplements and foods of natural origination that can sustain physical and mental well being at the highest possible level, and which will correct what they see as multi-faceted corruption at the level of basic commercial food supply. They also seek convenience and efficiency in their diet. Do not underestimate this market; it is real, powerful and growing in many different ways.

    What I also found interesting from you, and restated elsewhere in this blog, is that MSLP may not be at the top of this "quality" and "nutrient dense" game, which is what my guys are looking for. Interesting stuff. Stay with it, dude, and again, many thanks.
    Dec 6, 2013. 12:54 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • MusclePharm Fails To Pump Me Up [View article]
    Douglas: Superb article. I have a reduced position in MSLP and have been growing increasingly uneasy about even that for reasons that are thoroughly disclosed herein. Excellent research, great depth and I thank you for the efforts.

    However, on one point you are completely backwards:

    "What is fascinating about this business is the fact that 99.9% of the products are unnecessary. All a person needs to do to build muscle mass, increase endurance or maintain a healthy lifestyle is eat right and exercise properly. There is not a shred of scientific proof that vitamins and nutritional supplements deliver benefits over and above a balanced diet and sensible exercise for healthy individuals."

    This is roughly the equivalent of stating "All we need to do to balance the federal budget is learn to live within our economic means". Since both statements are completely ludicrous why make either of them at all?

    I am willing to bet that not one person in ten who is reading this article can remember the last "balanced diet" meal he or she ate and certainly cannot tell you with accuracy or credibility what a "balanced diet" meal would consist of. I have spent 12 years in the natural foods industry and I can also guarantee you that there is no consensus as to what a "balanced diet" actually entails. The US government's version of what we should eat is universally disdained. Nor is there any chance that the "balanced diet" fantasy is actually sustained by substantial numbers of people for extended periods of time. People work ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day. They commute an hour or more each way to work. They have little time to shop and certainly little time to spend considering the real ingredients of the food they must purchase in a supermarket. They buy convenience foods because they must, with no way of really telling what nutritional benefit or lack thereof those foods provide. They rely on vast food conglomerates to make those decisions for them. Sometimes they are short on cash or time or both and have to make poor nutritional substitutions.

    Although diet and nutrition are absolutely crucial to both daily and long term health and well being, both of the individual and the nation, do you, or does anyone remember the credible (i.e., non governmental) study of this subject being incorporated into the education you have received?

    According to the CDC some 36% of Americans over age 20 are "obese"; add in those who are also overweight and the number balloons to 69%. Some of this is due to simple gluttony; much of it is due to a diet overwhelmed with sugar, wheat and alcohol. Some 50 million Americans live in chronic hunger, many of whom live in metropolitan areas lacking access to anything resembling a well-stocked food store. Vegetables may not be sold for miles in some of these areas. When the chronically hungry do get food it is often of poor nutritional quality, failing to provide vitamins and minerals essential to the growth of a child. This leads to future and very expensive health problems. Hungry children cannot concentrate in school; they score low on their tests and cannot build a competitive nation in a competitive world.

    Diabetes, heart disease and other degenerative diseases that can be linked to a poor diet cost the nation billions and will continue to cost even more. Television ads promoting the use of pharmaceuticals to cure "high" cholesterol, fight heartburn and restore mental acuity are commonplace. The use of pharmaceuticals itself is known to deplete essential nutrients in the body, and we as a nation sure do consume a lot of pharmaceuticals.

    Our food supply itself is corrupt. Genetically modified foods and the vast overuse of antibiotics are just two of the many questionable elements anyone searching for the holy grail of the "balanced diet" must consider. Further, we do not have a two trillion dollar system of "health care", we have a two trillion dollar system of "health repair", and much of that health repair need can be linked to a diet that is not only imbalanced, but at times is utterly insane.

    OK, so what are my points with all of this as regards MusclePharm? First, an individual who wants to stay out of the grip of the health repair system, at least insofar as preventable degenerative disease is involved, must become active and aggressive about the life long responsibility for his or her own health. This takes time, effort and money. A company such as MusclePharm or any of the nutritional manufacturers who can put together verifiably clean, bioavailable, nutrient dense foods is making a huge contribution to my life and society as a whole. They are making life better and far easier by picking and combining essential nutrients in such a way that a human being can rely upon those products to sustain life at the highest possible physical and mental level. I regard the statement that I can achieve this solely on the basis of a "balanced diet" obtainable at a supermarket as ludicrous.

    I am looking for guaranteed quality and quantity of vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, essential sugars, proteins, carbohydrates, probiotics and any other nutrients I may need in a well balanced and highly assimilable (bioavailable) form. I should be able to consume these elements on their own, as in a drink, or be able to combine them with other elements in my diet such as a variety of vegetables, meats and certain grains which my body will naturally continue to crave. While I want government regulation over the safety and verifiable quality of what I consume to remain in place I will in general rely upon the integrity of the brand with which I am dealing and absolutely do not want anyone limiting my access to or choice among these goods.

    I can go on with this forever. What I am trying to say is 1) this is why I and many others, as consumers, will continue to rely on the technically advanced (and naturally sourced) "nutrient dense" foods of companies like MusclePharm and many others; 2) that it is absurd to attempt to write off reputable nutritional companies as fraudlent or wasteful, when the real fraud and waste is to be found in our mainstream food supply and our national so-called health care sysem; 3) that these companies should be recognized for the very real and critical contributions they are making to the personal health and well being of many; 4) and yes, essential, informative and truthful marketing is necessary to add to the credibility and bottom lines of these companies and add to their shareholder value.
    Dec 5, 2013. 01:37 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • MannKind: Managing The Endgame [View article]
    Any comments on the Red Acre Investments article?
    Aug 7, 2013. 11:49 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry Bottoms Up, Bottoms In [View article]
    Although initial Z10 user reviews are somewhat limited in number, the buyers are literally raving about this phone. Positive reception in the field is not an issue--go read some of these, many are quite detailed.

    As of late Monday evening:
    BlackBerry - Z10 4G LTE Mobile Phone ($200)
    21 Reviews: 4.7 out of 5 Stars (Overall)
    35 Reviews: 28 = 5 Star Ratings, Remainder about even 1-4 Stars
    BlackBerry Z10 ($200)
    44 Reviews: 37 = 5 Star, 3 = 4 Star
    BlackBerry® Z10 ($200)
    46 of 48 positive user recommendations, average rating 5 Stars

    From FierceWireless:

    "BlackBerry's own TV commercials for the Z10 started airing this weekend and commercials from carriers will be coming in the next few weeks.

    "BlackBerry is also doing something aggressive in its "real-time marketing campaign." According to Forbes, BlackBerry has been working with advertising agency BBDO and several digital agencies from within Publicis group like Razorfish on a campaign to "take over" consumers' PC desktops and iPhone and Android screens to showcase specific features of BB10. The mobile takeovers will start this week."
    Mar 26, 2013. 09:33 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Z10: Zero Sold On Friday, But None Left On Sunday [View article]
    To further this inquiry, try checking out some of the online user reviews at the large sites. Here's just three of them. Not that bad, people.
    35 reviews, 28 = 5 Star

    Best Buy
    BlackBerry - Z10 4G LTE Mobile Phone
    21 Reviews, 4.7 out of 5 Stars

    BlackBerry Z10
    44 Reviews, 37 = 5 Star
    Mar 26, 2013. 05:30 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • World's Top 6 Gold Producers: 6th Place, Yamana Gold [View article]
    Stephen: Superb article, thank you for the efforts and the extraordinary depth. I have a question about Yamana's "true" cost of gold production; you have "production" costs at $440.

    Rick Mills in The Gold Report December 2012 had this to say:

    The problem is that gold cash costs are not the only costs associated with mines. Investment bank CIBC just produced a complete breakdown of costs. Yes, operating costs are $700/oz, but there is also sustaining capital, construction capital, discovery costs and overhead. CIBC pegs those at an average of $600/oz. Add in $200/oz for taxes on average, and you're looking at $1,500 to produce an ounce of gold.

    It sounds brutal (it IS brutal). Any thoughts on that as to how Yamana would come out in that equation?
    Mar 19, 2013. 03:28 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Investing In OTC Stocks: Take No Shortcuts [View article]
    Tom: Nice article, and you really sum it up succinctly in your very first sentence. Trading the Pinks can age you quickly. To the due diligence problem, which you MUST address as well as you can before making any kind of a move (you'll still be praying), you have to add the frequently low trading volume. Easy to get in, sometimes very hard to get out.

    In addition to the ubiquitous frauds there can be lots of legitimate reasons for a company to be in the Pinks. Some better known names:

    Nestle (PINK:NSRGY), Nissan (PINK:NSANY), Roche Holding Ltd. (PINK:RHHBY), E.ON AG (PINK:EONGY), Volkswagen (PINK:VLKAY), Nintendo (PINK:NTDOY)

    Then there’s the grey areas, which you hope are legitimate startups worth the high risk stress they entail (but I guess the whole damn market is high stress, isn’t it?) I’ve been long on Pulse (PLSB) for a while and am seeing it as a “legitimate startup”. I wasn’t crazy with the paid “research” from Goldman and NBT (aka "Pumps" to some), but on the other hand if a bootstrap needs to attract capital and publicize its stock I guess I can live with the method. All their filings seem to be in order and their management is first class. I keep looking for BS and can’t find any. Plus, I can walk into a local Safeway and buy a Pulse Cabana Lemonade off the shelf… And how DID these guys get eye level shelf space in Safeway to start with? Anyway, as to the PLSB long shot we’ll know when we know….
    Mar 13, 2013. 04:39 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment