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PlasmaTech Biopharmaceuticals: Hyped Up ... Old "News" ... Going Down

by Sonya Colberg, Senior Editor, 5/28/2015 10:23:51 AM

PlasmaTech Biopharmaceuticals (PTBI) rocketed on “news” that the FDA granted orphan drug status to its newly acquired gene therapy products.

But PTBI’s announcement is simply hype churned out to raise the stock price … which is exactly what it did.

Why would we claim this is nothing more than a stock-hyping promotion?

The products had already received orphan drug designations – and been announced.

One full year ago.

Here’s the headline:

Abeona Therapeutics Receives U.S. Orphan Drug Designations for treatment of Sanfilippo Syndromes A and B”

PTBI announced May 6 that it would acquire Abeona, along with the acquisition’s therapy for Sanfilippo Syndromes A and B.  Two weeks later, PTBI issued its press release making it sound as if it had just received the US Food and Drug Administration designation for the therapies, here.

PTBI said FDA granted the designation for PTBI’s “lead product candidates for the treatment of Sanfilippo Syndromes A and B.” Orphan drug designation makes it easier to gain marketing approval to treat a rare medical condition or “orphan disease.”

PTBI’s new CEO, Tim Miller, Abeona’s former CEO, is quoted in both the current and the year-old release.  

Indeed, the FDA website shows both experimental drugs, here and here, received “orphan designation” in May 2014. An FDA spokeswoman noted they are not yet FDA approved for sale.

As for the Rare Pediatric Disease designation that PTBI says it has also received, a PTBI corporate presentation suggests Abeona had already received the designation. Spokeswoman Sandy Walsh said the FDA does not disclose the names of companies that request or receive this type of designation.

But this is just the beginning of a long list of issues that we believe will soon ground the PTBI rocket.

While investors may find other viewpoints here, we’ll tick off additional reasons we believe this stock is on the verge of crashing back to earth.

*Promotions:  “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Or is there?

PTBI stock has also been hyped recently by promotional firms like Blue Horseshoe Stocks, here, and posted on associated newsletter sites such as PennyMotion.com here and other sites.       

Seeking Alpha also has published two PTBI articles in the last few weeks, both fairly bullish and written by the same author.

On May 18, contributor to TheStreet.com touted the Soros investment and the initiation on a “buy” by H.C. Wainwright.

DLS Research, owner of SmithOnStocks, has also promoted PTBI, when the pharmaceutical company was called Access Pharmaceuticals. Investors may check here, where a Seeking Alpha author took DLS to task.

And HotStocked is yet another business that has trumpeted PTBI.

Investing in companies that must rely on stock promoters to get more eyeballs on their stock is risky business. Other company investors have taken the advice of promoters, such as Jonathan Lebed. TheStreetSweeper wrote about the Lebed-promoted Jive in 2012, which ended in disaster for virtually everyone but the Lebed team (JIVE, then ~$24, now ~$5.55).

*Bad News: Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful says, “It’s all about the moneeeey!”

PTBI last year increased cash by cutting expenses such as its lifeblood - research and development – and diluting shareholders’ stock. Its accounts payable rose and revenue collapsed.

Here are more details:

 

Dec. 31, 2014

Dec. 31, 2013

% Change

Net Income/Loss

$-26.8 m

$4.5 m

Down 702%

Revenue

$    .9 m

$2.0 m

Down 122%

Accounts payable

$  1.9 m

$  .9 m

Up 120%

Research & Dev.

$    .3 m

$  .9 m

Down 62%

 (Source: SEC filings)

PTBI blames losses on R&D:

“Our losses have resulted principally from costs incurred in research and development activities …and from associated administrative costs.”

Then PTBI turned around and noted a few pages later that R&D dropped more than half-a-million bucks!

Indeed, those “associated administrative costs” really mean stock-based compensation jumped astronomically.

In fact, stock-based compensation nearly tripled.

For their hand in running the company that’s now lost $298 million, PTBI folks received $1.3 million in stock-based compensation.

 

Dec. 31, 2014

Dec. 31, 2013

Percent Change

Stock-based comp

$1.3 m

$0.4 m

Up 197%

 

Wowser! The deeper the hole, the better the pay.

Full compensation is hard to track in PTBI’s game of executive musical chairs but new CEO Miller will receive $350,000 yearly, along with a possible bonus and stock options for 400,000 shares worth around $3.5 million.

Another big player who has sat in several chairs and handled at least five of PTBI’s private stock offerings through his SCO Securities, is Steven Rouhandeh, executive chairman.

PTBI’s filings note this about SCO entities linked to Mr. Rouhandeh: “During 2014 and 2013, SCO and affiliates charged $300,000 each year in investor relations fees.”

Mr. Rouhandeh’s stock option awards for 2014? Those alone were worth $523,000.

In fact, Mr. Rouhandeh and his SCO entities own over 14 million shares, exceeding a whopping 65 percent ownership.

*What About Soros?

News on May 5-7 regarding the George Soros disclosure of 1.16 million shares or 5. 17 percent of PTBI evidently prompted some investors to take a chance on the stock, assisting the rally to $9.

But that stock cost Soros a fraction of what today’s retail investor is paying. The Soros fund’s increased position works out to a price of ~$3 per share for one block of 250,000 shares and ~$0.93 per share for the second block, according to the fund’s SEC filing.

And the position in PTBI is extremely small.

The Soros fund lists stock held in ~230 companies in the last quarter, records show. The fund includes many positions of those other companies of 10 million or more shares accumulated in that timeframe.

Is Soros still holding a position in PTBI now that the stock is about three times or more than the purchase price?

Fund managers have not yet responded to TheStreetSweeper’s request for a comment. But how long Soros might hold onto PTBI shares is a burning question, particularly considering the current price and all the institutional types selling PTBI.

*Top Investors Dump PTBI Stock

Three out of PTBI’s five biggest institutional investors have begun dumping its stock. These are Oracle, Sabby and Deerfield.    

A total of seven institutional holders have whittled away at their holdings. PTBI’s biggest institutional investor, Oracle, has axed its shares to nearly half the original number. Two other institutions, Equitec and Messner & Smith, have sold out.



Chanticleer Holdings (HOTR): Turning Down The Fire

by Sonya Colberg, Senior Editor, 5/21/2015 10:35:32 AM

Chanticleer Holdings (HOTR) has recently been scorching hot. Yet its business plan is so cold, it could have frozen the raunchy wit right off legendary sex symbol Mae West.

But let’s assume she would have fluttered her eyelashes, patted a blond wave and recovered quickly enough to reveal the secrets of the North Carolina company that owns 46 company-owned and franchise locations, including 13 Hooters, six American Burger Co. restaurants, plus seven Just Fresh and 20 BGR locations.

We’ll let Mae and other voluptuous sirens help unveil some risks slinking up on HOTR.

*HOTR’s Nothing Without You, Seeking Alpha.

“Plastic surgeons are always making mountains out of molehills,” Dolly Parton once said. When it comes to HOTR, just substitute “Seeking Alpha authors” for “plastic surgeons” and you get the idea.

In an interview with the chief executive published April 16, for example, a Seeking Alpha author prompted CEO Mike Pruitt to hype HOTR’s far-from-beautiful financials this way:

“When profitability is reached, what is your philosophy on use of cash? Returned via cash dividends or buybacks, or 100% retained for possible future acquisitions? When do you expect the company to be in a position to return cash to shareholders?”

Really? Profitability? Following year after year of losses, now exceeding $21 million? Mr. Pruitt replied:

JAMN Finally Spills the Beans -- And It's an Ugly Mess

by Janice Shell, 6/2/2011 10:32:51 AM

* Editor's Note: Readers can access links to additional backup documents for this story by clicking here for TheStreetSweeper's original investigative report on this company.

Late Tuesday afternoon, after missing earlier deadlines, Jammin Java (OTC: JAMN.OB) filed a long-awaited annual report packed with enough eye-opening news to keep investors up all night. That mandatory filing, unaccompanied with a cheerful press release heralding its arrival, served as a painful wake-up call to shareholders already burned by a rapid plunge in the company’s stock price.

To be sure, the 10-K offered investors little reason to sing. For starters, the filing reveals, this once-hot “coffee company” sells no coffee of its own at all. JAMN relies on a supplier based in frigid Canada – far away from the tropical Jamaican home of its co-founder Rohan Marley – to provide the company with an actual product to sell to its customers instead.

Back in April of 2010, JAMN inked a “supply and toll agreement” with Canterbury Coffee of British Columbia that gave it access to some brew. According to that agreement, JAMN relies on Canterbury to fulfill every role – save a minor one – normally satisfied by a firm that classifies itself as a coffee company. Canterbury purchases the coffee beans. It roasts them. And it then packages them in bags supplied by JAMN – the company’s only real product – for sale to the public.

JAMN signed this deal more than a year ago, right before Shane Whittle – a notorious Vancouver stock promoter – officially resigned as CEO of the company. But the company never mentioned that agreement, seemingly material enough to warrant at least a quiet 8-K report, in a single regulatory filing until now.   

Jammin Java (JAMN): Hot Stock ... Bitter Aftertaste?

by Janice Shell, 6/2/2011 10:30:25 AM

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee! That’s exactly what Jammin Java (OTC: JAMN.OB), a heavily promotedcoffee company, and – for very different reasons – TheStreetSweeper would like investors to do.

Since the beginning of the year, JAMN has miraculously risen from the ashes of the “Grey Market” graveyard to become one of the liveliest – and richest – stocks in the entire microcap arena. JAMN has seen its stock shoot straight toward heaven, soaring from 55 cents to peak above $6 a share on massive daily volume, with its market value nowtopping $355 million despite the company’s limited resources and operating history. (As covered in more detail below, two of the Internet tout sheets pushing JAMN the hardest effectively vanished -- disabled by their Internet servers -- on the day the stock’s trading volume exploded past 20 million shares.) 

JAMN stands out for its powerful connections, the first loudly celebrated by the company and the second – involving a notorious stock promoter – carefully hidden from view.


 

CCME: Few Signs of Life at 'Healthy' Chinese Firm

by Roddy Boyd, 3/23/2011 9:30:34 AM

* Editor's Note: This story has been republished with permission from The Financial Investigator. To access the original article, complete with links to back-up documents, click here.

In the maze of thronged and narrow streets that makes up Fujian province’s capital city of Fuzhou, a deft driver, if he’s willing–as all Chinese drivers apparently are–to nearly kill or injure vast numbers of his countrymen can take you to the foot of Dongjie street. There was little reason to be there save for its having the headquarters of a company called China MediaExpress Holdings (Nasdaq: CCME), an enterprise that seems to be able to weather allegations about its business that would have forced the share price collapse of a company five times its size. The attention of bulls and bears is not misplaced: In a mere four years as a public company, it has apparently come to dominate the ad placement market for leading multinational consumer products companies on a network of what it claims is more than 27,000 buses on Chinese airport and intercity routes.

Also, and this cannot be understated, hanging out on a sidewalk in Fujian–the sidewalks double as parking spots when the streets, which appeared to have been designed in the Han Dynasty, fill up–was not a viable option. There was also the matter of the world-class headache the Financial Investigator was developing from Fuzhou’s diabolical smell, an epic conflation of poor sewage treatment, air pollution and the smell of cabbage that made getting the hell off Dongjie street a matter of vital importance.

The Financial Investigator and his traveling companion for the trip, an American investor with extensive experience in China, decided to head upstairs despite our interview with the CFO having been cancelled at the last minute (with no explanation given.) We thought a quick tour of the offices and meeting a few other executives might open our eyes to a few things.

It did.

Though the language barrier was a little steep with the young receptionist–when we asked for writing paper, she provided Kleenex–we were in short order shown to their conference room and told to wait. It did not escape notice that pride of place in the conference room belonged to a framed certificate of participation from the Fall 2010 Rodman & Renshaw conference, the World Cup for reverse merger companies and the pumpers and touts who peddle them.

Eventually chief operating officer James Yu came down and after spending 30 minutes trying to understand who we were, concluded that giving us a tour wouldn’t hurt. Soon enough, his colleague, Vinne Ye–the chairman’s assistant–came out and took us around.

It was most eye-opening.

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Investors must be properly armed in order to protect themselves against the dangers of Wall Street. To help out, The Street Sweeper has mined the Internet for the most powerful weapons available to investors researching publicly traded companies. In our “Loaded Weapons” section, you’ll find direct links to corporate documents filed with the SEC, conference call transcripts published by Seeking Alpha, insider stock sales tracked by Insider-Monitor.com and popular investment tools offered by Yahoo! Finance. You can also identify the promoters behind current penny stock campaigns – and the compensation they are receiving – by connecting to StockPromoters.com. You can link to other websites that are conducting topnotch stock investigations as well. Click here now.

When investors begin their homework on small-cap companies - particularly on penny stocks - they should probably start with an important history lesson. Specifically, they should conduct background checks on their stockbrokers and the companies those brokers are touting.
 
The Street Sweeper has designed a cheat sheet of sorts to help out with this research. Our “Rap Sheet” section links to a free tool (sponsored by FINRA) that allows ordinary investors to review the backgrounds of individual stockbrokers and their brokerage firms. The section also links to whistleblower cases and class-action lawsuits targeting publicly traded companies. It provides access to recent news of SEC enforcement actions and FBI white-collar crime investigations as well.
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