Entertainment Arts Research (EARI, 9.80, 19 Mar 2010)
EARI produces faith-based interactive video games and “edutainment”.
This is the perfect fundamental short.
The stock is fairly new on the scene, so there is little short interest. It has an extremely high market cap of $714M. It has been over-hyped recently, leading to a speculative spike in the stock price. Despite the hefty market cap, no revenues have ever been earned by this company. Promises of future revenue are based on still-to-be-developed products. The web site shows nothing more than a home page.
The skyrocketing stock price is primarily driven by the Universe of Faith (UOF) – a virtual world designed for the faith-based Christian community that was developed by EARI’s President Jonathan Eubanks. The Legacy Group Global (LGG) advertising agency will work with EARI to make the Christian community aware of faith-based video games, online avatar opportunities to express their faith, etc. Adding to the speculation, was a second announcement of providing content for distribution through the Shaolin Temple of China.
In EARI’s press release about partnering with LGG in the UOF launch, Damon Davis, CEO of LGG, stated “History repeats itself. The Word of God, since the beginning has moved by being carried through the mouths of men and women who believed in the life changing, penetrating word of Truth. Whether it’s a bush pilot carrying Bibles in the back of a fixed wing airplane into the jungles of South America or an avatar of Joel Osteen in front of a virtual community of 2 billion people worldwide, it will be his mouth delivering this word to a community that will spread this message like wild fire to the four corners of the globe. UOF provides that and we are committed to its success.”
While I do not underestimate the power of the Church, my faith in this business venture supporting a market cap of anything close to $714M is being severely tested by past real-world experiences. Let’s look at the fate of Left Behind Games (OTC:LFBG), an EARI peer. At $0.0044 per share, LFBG has lost 95% of its market value from its June 2009 peak. They also produced interfaith video games, and claimed to have a large distribution agreement with Wal-Mart. The current market cap is $8M, losses were $6.8M on revenues of $0.1M. To support their loss-making operations, LFBG had to issue billions of shares at dilutive prices.
While some may try to argue that the quality differential between EARI and LFBG is greater than the market cap differential of 87x, the bubble created in EARI stock is even harder to dismiss. Even if EARI reaches millions of zealous Christians above the poverty line over the next five years, the ability to monetize those viewers to justify the current market cap is highly questionable. Just converting church-goers/television evangelists into online gamers and avatars, forget even monetizing them, will be a daunting challenge.
According to EARI’s only-two news releases, video content will start being released this month for UOF, and by Christmas for the Shaolin Temple venture. Time will tell.
Disclosure: I am a manager of a tech stock hedge fund. My fund currently does not have a position in EARI.
Disclosure: No Positions in stocks mentioned