GlobeTel: Feel the (Cash)Burn

Another quarter, another series of failures and excuses from WiMAX pretender GlobeTel (AMEX: GTE  ) , the company that has dazzled investors with tales of WiMAX blimps and giant Russian WiMAX deals -- dreams that have a bad habit of, you know, not coming true.

Many GlobeTel fans out there insist that the firm is being held back by a large corporate conspiracy involving the likes of Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) , Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) , Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) , Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) , and News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) . (Can't you see! If GlobeTel succeeds with high-altitude airships, broadband telephony, and Internet TV, it'll mean the end for all of them!)

Anyone who steps away from the Kool-Aid ought to see the simple fact that GlobeTel management, especially CEO Tim Huff, consistently fails to deliver on its promises. That holds true whether those promises are big (testing the WiMAX blimp on schedule) or small (getting its Centerline subsidiary "to reach $350,000 per month in net operating profit by the end of June").

This quarter's numbers offer another carnival of the macabre. Though GlobeTel actually managed to eke out a positive gross margin of $404,912 dollars, that sum represents a paltry 1.87% of revenues. And the figure is less than the astonishing $440,584 dollars this small company spent on travel in the quarter.

Four hundred and forty thousand on travel alone? Hey, I don't get it either. I'm guessing managers aren't flying steerage and staying at the Motel 6. But even if they are, officers can take comfort in total compensation that rose more than 200% from the prior-year period, to $634,700 -- just another of the line items that dwarfs the entire gross margin.

The final net loss was actually a bit smaller than the prior year's, but it was still nearly $4 million. Those who think any improvement on that line means good things might possibly want to check out the cash flow statement, where the fog of accounting dissipates under the harsher light of greenback reality. Cash burned by operations was much higher in this half-year than the prior-year period, -$7.8 million vs. -$4.6 million. Lower capex slowed the overall burn rate, but a glance at the balance sheet, where you see only $1.8 million in cash and cash equivalents, ought to tell you what's likely to come next: more shares.

GlobeTel's share count has already ballooned more than 39% between last year and now, something that happens when you burn that much cash and have to resort to share sales and convertible warrants in order to keep your company in the green.

Unfortunately for the cash-hungry free-spenders at GlobeTel, the Amex is seemingly set on putting this puppy to sleep, saying GlobeTel "engaged in a pattern of issuing overly promotional press releases" while "its management has engaged in operations, which, in the opinion of the Exchange, are contrary to the public interest." GlobeTel -- which has, of course, appealed the determination -- may soon get the heave-ho onto the pinkies. Without a liquid market in which potential angel investors could dump, er, I mean resell their GlobeTel shares, it may be tough for GlobeTel to attract financiers. And it probably won't be any easier now, given the lengthening track record of failure illustrated in the latest earnings release.

Is GlobeTel going to survive? That I don't know. One thing I do know for sure: Jane and Joe Investor ought to think twice, ignore gullible market prognosticators, and let someone else, anyone else, finance GlobeTel's pricey, profitless dreams.

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Seth Jaysonthinks a WiMAX blimp would be way cool, but he knows the difference between dreams and reality. At the time of publication, he had no positions in any company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profilehere. Fool rules arehere.


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