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  • Solazyme Begins To Sell Algae Oils To Natura Cosmeticos  [View article]
    I was surprised to see the conflict between Maxx Chatsko and Kevin Quon. Maxx's enthusiasm for the potential of SYZM was one of the reasons I bought the stock years ago. Of course, it hasn't been a great investment but I am in for the long term so it doesn't matter unless I go broke or die.
    There is a typical pattern that small, high-tech start-ups go through and SZYM is no exception. There are many factors that go into the success of a start-up but people who invest in "story stocks" tend to ignore them. Typically they get discouraged and sell out just before the company turns the corner. And those who hang on may find that their initial investment has been watered down by loans and stock sales to earn money. That's why timing is crucial in investing, although it's nearly impossible to pick the optimum moment,
    This is the perspectuve that I bring to Maxx's comments. I see them, not as disparaging the long-term potential of SZYM, but as cautions against unrealistic expectations.
    I've been following Kevin on Seeking Alpha for many years and he has been a consistent and enthusiastic endorser of SYZM. I don't know what the definition of a cheerleader is in the investing context but he's certainly optimistic and he might not always convey the downside of the company and its position.
    I find the two perspectives complementary and helpful in maintaining a realistic expectation for the future.
    Jun 25, 2015. 10:47 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Solazyme Begins To Sell Algae Oils To Natura Cosmeticos  [View article]
    Saw some headlines that Nutella (i think), extremely popular breakfast drink, has been banned (in France?) because of its high palm oil content. (Demand for palm oil is one of the main reasons for destroying rain forests to establish palm plantations.) In view of SZYM's ability to create oils with properties superior to palm oil, it sounds like a great opportunity to secure a very high profile client. Anybody listening at SZYM?
    Jun 21, 2015. 10:13 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Solazyme Gains A Partner For Specialty Soap Production  [View article]
    As someone who has wasted a lot of money by investing too early in developing small cap companies, using money that could have been used for more profitable investments in more established companies, may I offer on observation? I believe that Solazyme has the potential to be the major player in a technology that can change some of the most basic practices in multiple industries, including cosmetics, food, pharmaceuticals, elements of the oil and gas industry and many others, probably including many applications that will not be recognized for years or decades. Name any of the best-performing stocks of the last 50 years and Solazyme has the potential to outperform it.
    Here is my main point: If you believe as I do and if you are investing for the long term, it does not matter when you take a long position. If it is a good investment at $10 it can still be a good investment at $20 or $40 or $100 or $500. If you are not satisfied with its immediate stock price movement, buy something else that you think shows more short-term promise. Sell your Solazyme stock if you need the money to invest elsewhere or hold on to it, accepting that Solazyme may just lounge in the same general price range for years. Do whatever you want, knowing that, either way, if it does go to $20, you have not missed your opportunity, merely deferred buying a long-term investment until it has demonstrated what it can do. There's not much value in bragging rights about how little you paid for Solazyme if you can make more money buying shares in other companies and then selling them when you see the price growth and fundamental strength you want in Solazyme.
    For the record, I am long on Solazyme, the third largest holding in my portfolio, and I will probably buy more on a big price drop due to market factors and not to any fundamental flaw in the business itself. But I will also probably buy more if the company shows it has what it takes to be successful, even if the stock price has doubled to $20. Time is our ally.
    Aug 24, 2014. 08:09 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Solazyme says commercial production of renewable algal oils at Iowa plants  [View news story]
    I see that there's already some rise in the share price but long-term Solarzyme holders should not be discouraged if the rise isn't as big or as long-lasting as we hope. The traders, analysts and prudent investors will be waiting until they have documentation that the whole operation is making money. They're willing to miss the initial increase in share price in return for the increase in certainty of success. They're probably smarter than we are because we will have missed out on other opportunities in exchange for our bragging rights about how low we got in and how long we've been in. And there's still plenty of room for error before we see dividends and 10 times share prices. I believe we will see them and more and that the wait will ultimately be worth it. Keep the faith.
    Jan 31, 2014. 09:32 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • For Solazyme, It Is All About Control  [View article]
    Hi Kevin, Always enjoy seeing what you have to offer on Solazyme. Being totally ignorant of the details of the processes involved gives me wide latitude for my conclusions. From what I have read Solazyme seems to have chosen a batch process, rather than a continuous process. Among other things, induced lysis of the algae seems to suggest the terminal step in a batch process. As for the secretion vs lysis issue, as I understand things, Solazyme has the capacity to engineer their algae to secrete the oil if they wanted it to do so. With no factual knowledge to go on, I suspect that, as you suggested, they made their decisions based on economics and perhaps simplicity as well. (The industry is presently in a state that reminds me of the early days of orbital space flight, with fruit flies, newts and such as passengers. Simplicity seems a big advantage at this point.) I can envision that, with their ability to engineer algae to their specifications, one day when the demands for their products are on a much larger scale than they presently anticipate and when the technology and practical experience has evolved, they could switch to a continuous process similar to the refining of crude oil and that might involve the use of oil-secreting algae. Or not. The people behind Solazyme have shown their ability to make major changes in direction in the past and I anticipate that they will be able to do the same in the future.
    Re other comments: I think that the biggest threat to Solazyme would be an alternate technology with superior economics that emerges as a consequence of new developments and that we have no way of anticipating. So, as you also noted, it's not an absolutely "sure thing." Still, at the moment Solazyme looks like the best horse in the race.
    Sneaker1404's link to Pacific Northwest National Labs and their partnership with Genifuel suggests one other approach. It sounds like Archer Daniels MIdland Company is also looking at alternative technologies. Not sure how temperature and pressure that high are consistent with algae; must be a staged process.
    And re Snake Plissken's comments, " silence" is not a proper IR response. A reply to the effect that the company has chosen to keep certain proprietary information restricted is more in keeping with professional consideration for people who have invested their resources to become part owners of the company. Sounds like an area that Solazyme needs to improve.
    Not just long-term long on Solazyme; I'm investing for my grandkids.
    Dec 26, 2013. 02:17 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Silvercorp Without The Soap Opera  [View article]
    One of the challenges for western businessmen doing business in Asia is appreciation of a basic cultural difference. For many, maybe most, Asians it is acceptable, even laudable, business practice to cheat your partner or client, if you can get away with it. Of course, people do this in the west also, but generally when what they did is revealed they express remorse. In Asia the response is more like embarrassment for you, that you were so naive or stupid that you allowed yourself to be cheated. The contractors were cheating the owners/stockholders of Silvercorp by mixing worthless rock in with the ore that they were supposed to be paid for in order to increase their profits. For Western businessmen this would seem to a case of short-term gain, long-term loss as the contractors lost their business with Silvercorp. Probably the contractors' view is that they can always find someone else to cheat. There are honest, reputable businessmen with integrity in Asia and they are a pleasure to do business with but unless you know who you're dealing with you'd better count your fingers after every handshake.
    Nov 22, 2013. 06:11 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Solazyme: Progress Continues Even As Uncertainty Spreads  [View article]
    This is a strange situation. I've been following Maxx Chatsko for a couple of years and I've been impressed with his technical knowledge of biotech and of the companies which use it and also with his reasonable approach to investing in these companies. I've been following Kevin Quon for a shorter period of time and found his knowledge of Solazyme to be extensive and his enthusiasm for the company obvious and transparent. I find it surprising to find these two at odds. I don't have Maxx's article in front of me but I thought it could be summarized as "Solazyme is a good company with enormous long-term potential but Wall Street analysts have put the stock in a precarious position with their forecasts." Anyone who has been active in investing for very long is aware of the sudden and precipitous drops in the price of a stock when a quarterly earnings report falls a few pennies below analysts' predictions, even when these earnings exceeded the company's own estimates. And that is exactly what the article was warning about, as I understood it. The details about the actual potential production levels are not the focus of the article, only a general framework for illustrating the potential problem. As for Maxx Chatsko trying to manipulate the stock price for personal gain, that sounds like a bit of paranoia to me, possibly related to the prevalence of that sort of thing going on at Seeking Alpha. To cite his statement that he intended to invest in the company in the future as an indication that he had a personal financial interest in maligning the company is the height of irrationality. Everything I have read by Mr. Chatsko consistently adds to my high estimation of his integrity. If there is any suspicion of stock manipulation it should be directed at the analysts who set up these high expectations that make companies vulnerable to these irrational price swings.
    As for Mr. Kwon, I have not followed him as long but I have no reason to question his integrity either. I do notice a certain tendency to optimism about the future of Solazyme which seems to minimize the potential obstacles that the company may face in their development. I don't think that's a question of integrity; it may be a matter of experience or some other factor that leads him to be less than totally objective towards Solazyme. We all get caught that way occasionally. My impression is that his strong response to Mr. Chatsko's article had an emotional component, as if he were rushing to defend a loved one that he felt was being threatened. I could be wrong about that; it wouldn't be the first time.
    I am long on Solazyme and have been for a couple of years. In fact, it is one of my larger holdings in an otherwise mostly conservative portfolio. I've benefited from Mr. Kwon's extensive knowledge of the company. I found Mr. Chatsko's article to be a useful warning to be prepared for volatility in the stock in the future and possibly to invest even more if the price should drop irrationally. For me the two viewpoints seem not only compatible but complementary. In my humble opinion.
    Oct 2, 2013. 08:15 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Cytori Therapeutics - Independent Study On Scleroderma Shows Great Results  [View article]
    From your lips to God's ears. I've been holding CYTX for about a year, long enough to be down about 35%, along with a batch of microcap biotech companies, and I'd love an excuse to at least double up on it. My intent in writing was to caution skeyewater and others like him not to get so blinded by the upside potential that they fail to see the hazards, many of which may not even be apparent at this point. This is still a high risk investment and no one should invest in it without understanding that.
    As for possible complications of stem cell infusion, my own preference would be not to be a victim of anything. If I were facing elective surgery that would likely require blood transfusion I'd prefer to donate as much of my own blood in advance as possible and have it transfused back into me when needed, to minimize the risk of receiving donated blood. Likewise, under present circumstances I would prefer to receive my own stem cells rather than donor cells. (I would also prefer to have a liposuction rather than a bone marrow aspiration, even discounting all the other advantages of using ADRC's, because I'm a coward and marrow aspirations hurt more.) But my expectation is that in the near future stem cell therapy may become the treatment of choice for a host of conditions, including the autoimmune diseases you listed, coronary artery insufficiency with or without heart failure (and supplementing, if not replacing, angioplasty), acute heart attack, myocardopathy, peripheral vascular disease, plus a whole array of conditions, such as hepatic cirrhosis and hepatitis, yet to come to the stage of large-scale clinical evaluation. This of course is in addition to its use in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, which is already gaining acceptance globally. Who knows, maybe those extravagant claims for rejuvenation may even be proven to be true and everyone will receive annual stem cell transfusions to maintain youth and prolong life! Stranger things have happened. And if it should reach this extent of use (even without the rejuvenation applications), the accompanying technologies, such as stem cell harvesting or culture and preservation, may evolve to supersede what may come to be seen as our present, crude methods. That's pretty much the history of medical advances. For example, maybe one day we will donate a small amount of fat, obtained by needle aspiration under local anesthesia, to be cultured and transfused back, just as autologous blood is donated and transfused back to the donor when needed. And, finally to get back to my point, in the unlikely event that I should live long enough to see those days, under those circumstances I'd want to take advantage of the safest and easiest available. And so, I suspect, would you.
    Back to the investment side of this discussion, I'm no prophet, more like a hallucinator, but we live in amazing times and the science fiction of a half-century ago is now commonplace science fact. Picking one company that will survive the tremendously rapid evolutions that are occurring requires luck as much as foresight. Prudent investors, and I am not among that group, will follow a more certain approach and invest in those companies that have already survived the early stages of a technological innovation or that adopt the proven techniques of an established science or that simply buy out a company and reap the benefits of what others have sown. I don't want to go to Las Vegas to do my gambling so I do it with a small portion of small biotech stocks. Anyone who invests in these stocks should be aware that he/she is doing the same. If you are serious about making money by investing, stick with solid, proven companies, keep adding to them and hold them for years. It ain't sexy but it works. In the long term you can't beat the odds in Vegas or in the market. In the meantime, it's interesting to see how the dice will roll on Cytori.
    Sep 23, 2013. 01:07 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Cytori Therapeutics - Independent Study On Scleroderma Shows Great Results  [View article]
    Skeyewater, I agree that Cytori has amazing potential to deliver autologous (derived from the patient who receives them) ADRC's but don't forget that the device only processes the fat cells. The cells must be obtained by a surgical procedure. I believe that the preferred method is liposuction, in which the fat is obtained by suctioning it out through a cannula. This would be considered "minor surgery" (by my definition "major surgery" is any surgery that is performed on ME) but there are potential risks, chief of which may be fat embolism, a complex and potentially fatal reaction that occurs when the fat cells or their components enter the patient's bloodstream. I don't think that most doctors' offices will be performing these procedures, although I suspect that free-standing out-patient surgery centers will.
    You probably know that liposuction is most commonly performed as a cosmetic surgery, for those of us who lack the discipline to control our food intake. One possible alternative to Cytori's approach might be to process all that fat, which is currently discarded, to produce ADRC's that can be stored and administered just as blood products are today. That would involve a lot of research into how long the ADRC's retain their potency, how best to preserve and store them, just as was required for transfusion of blood and blood products. The potential drawbacks that I can see to this approach are the same as those of transfusion of donor blood, including disease transmission, allergic reaction and graft-vs-host reaction. These are also potentially serious complications but the incidence may be low enough that donor ADRC's may be considered preferable to autologous ADRC's. All of this is conjecture but it reinforces the fact that the application of this science is still very much in the early stages and there are many possible adverse factors, both scientific and financial, that might impact Cytori's future success. All this notwithstanding, the whole field of (legitimate) stem cell therapy has the potential to become as significant as the discovery of antibiotics. I have a small holding in Cytori and would willingly buy more as the future becomes clearer but I wouldn't recommend that anyone bet the farm on it just now.
    Sep 23, 2013. 05:17 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • What New Co-Products Lie In Store For Solazyme?  [View article]
    Ivandertag: Here's a quiz: Which one of these answers is true?
    A. The world is flat.
    B. Elvis is alive and living on an enormous estate hidden in the Ozark Mountains.
    C. Solazyme is a sham company pretending to produce oil to defraud investors in flagrant violation of multiple laws providing for incarceration and monetary penalties.
    D. Gravity is a force created by time-traveling Communist aliens to prevent mankind from populating the universe.
    E. All of the above
    F. None of the above.
    Please feel free to give your medicine time to take effect before answering.
    Jan 18, 2013. 02:05 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Short-Term Traders Sell As Solazyme Secures Its Future Growth  [View article]
    Maxxwell, I've read a few of your articles and you seem to be a pretty savvy guy. I'm wondering exactly what you are proposing. It sounds like you think the smart thing to do is to wait and watch until the company has proven what it can do and then buy in before the price has shot up, assuming that there is such an opportunity. Having gotten burned on a few microcap tech stocks I can see the logic in that. Foregoing a portion of stock appreciation in exchange for decreased risk is often a winning strategy. There are lots of shipwrecks among those that are sailing new seas. To me, Solazyme seems to have a pretty good history and seems to be farther along in the development process than most of the companies that founder. Do you have any specific reasons that you think Solazyme can't do what they intend to do or is this just the general caution of someone who has seen the wreckage of more than a few companies that 'had great potential'?
    Jan 17, 2013. 11:37 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 3 Reasons TravelCenters Of America Could Triple  [View article]
    Joe, I know you can't put everything into one article, although you certainly tried, but one thing that is important to me is insider holding and trading. If I remember correctly, the 5 key executives of TA listed in Yahoo! Finance hold a little more than 2 million shares of TA and they're not selling. That's a pretty big plus for me and one of the reasons I bought in earlier.
    I'm fairly comfortable with the arrangement between TA and HPT because in general they're in a win-win situation. What's good for TA is good for HPT, although not necessarily the other way around. I think having their hands slapped once, whether it was justified or not, will keep the folks at HPT in line. I'm a little leery of the incestuous relationship between HPT and RMR with, as I recall, the CEO of RMR, which manages properties for HPT, being the son of the CEO of HPT and the executives and directors seeming to be interchangeable. Since RMR is managing for TA as well, that is a potential problem but not a deal buster for me.
    Jan 15, 2013. 03:16 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Smart Investors Should Ignore The Gimmick Of Intel Share Buybacks  [View article]
    Hi Macro, Didn't mean to leave you out in my reply below but it's directed to you as well. As to your comment above about the financial media I would also include many, maybe most, individual investors. Consequently perception may override reality in some instances, at least temporarily,.
    Any article that generates as much heat as this one must be serving a useful purpose. I agree that you probably set some people off with your initial choice of words and that may have hindered their understanding your point but I enjoyed the article.
    Dec 26, 2012. 12:57 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Smart Investors Should Ignore The Gimmick Of Intel Share Buybacks  [View article]
    Hi Wretched, Why are we wasting our holiday time on this trivial issue? I agree with your post and theoretically with the author's premise. However, as one of the dumb people who have challenges with valuation and other critical parameters I'm contributing to the phenomenon that people's perceptions are altered by irrelevant data like stock splits and share buy-backs. I think it's pretty well documented that executives do a pretty poor job of timing their buy-backs, buying when the price is too high and wasting their shareholders' money. Yet I still perceive that insider buying is a strongly positive factor. If the executives can't efficiently buy shares for their company, why should I believe that they can do any better for themselves? It's irrational. Similarly, if we focus too much on EPS after a share buy-back, the value of the stock (with value defined as what people are willing to pay for it) may increase as an indirect effect of the buy-back, despite the lack of change in valuation. Until all the idiots like myself have lost all our money in the market, the Efficient Market Hypothesis will remain a theoretical ideal. "Money flows from those who don't know what to do with it to those who do." Happy Holidays!
    Dec 26, 2012. 12:39 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Smart Investors Should Ignore The Gimmick Of Intel Share Buybacks  [View article]
    If I buy a share of stock, my wealth does not change; it merely changes form from currency to equity. (Obviously the costs of the transaction aren't considered in that statement.) Subsequent events may result in changes to my wealth, woefully often in a negative direction, but at the moment of the transaction I am exactly where I was before. I thought that was Macro's initial premise: whether a company gives a dividend to a shareholder or converts the cash into equity by buying back shares the shareholder receives the same benefit, either in currency or in equity. If the shares subsequently go up in price or down his wealth changes but at the moment of the repurchase it's unchanged. If investors overrate the value of the repurchase and the price goes up, that is a subsequent event and does not change the initial equivalency between the equity increase and the dividend.
    Similarly, if a company borrows money to re-purchase stock, it converts the debt as currency into an equal (ignoring costs) amount of equity resulting in no change in net worth. If subsequent events cause the price of the shares to change, that does not change the initial equivalency.
    This seems so basic to me that I was wondering what the conflict was all about. Could it be that those who object to this premise are confusing the effects of subsequent events with the effects of the initial transaction?
    Happy Holidays
    Dec 25, 2012. 05:45 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment