May 11, 2011
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Pluristem Therapeutics profile
||Pluristem Therapeutics (Nasdaq: PSTI )
|Stock Price at Sell Recommendation
|Star Rating (out of 5)
Aastrom Biosciences (Nasdaq: ASTM )
StemCells (Nasdaq: STEM )
Geron (Nasdaq: GERN )
Cytori Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CYTX )
Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's), Yahoo! Finance, and Motley Fool CAPS.
This week's pitch:
Hooray! I love being the first on CAPS to call BS. In this case, I'm screaming it.
Any stock that has previously undergone a 200:1 reverse split should make you very very nervous. That's a lot of believers who got wiped out. Now there's a whole new crop of Pluristem believers who are either unaware of the previous generation, or simply think they're much smarter.
The stock increased about 300% at the beginning of the year on word that the company would proceed with advanced clinical trials of their PLX-PAD cells in various manifestations of PAD. I noted that the company trumpeted "protocol agreements" with the FDA and EMEA, language that I have previously seen used to confuse investors into thinking that there is an SPA. There isn't. Thus far there is very limited evidence that PLX-PAD cells have any clinical activity in humans. The recent phase I trial was designed in such a way that it almost could not have given negative results, due to the six-month duration of the study and the requirement that enrollees not be expected to require amputation within three months. That's a three month window in which patients could have failed the treatment and required amputation, assuming that clinicians could differentiate between patients not expected to require amputation within three months and those not expected to require amputation within six months (you can't).
Diving back into Pluristem's history, I see numerous press releases from 2007 fluffing the therapy's potential in autoimmune disease, Parkinsonism, and stroke before they apparently settled on PAD. These press releases serve no useful purpose other than to maintain share price artificially inflated to maximize the yield from dilutive financings. The company wasted no time taking advantage of the most recent surge, selling 11M new shares in addition to warrants in February.
Finally, I note Internet echoes of a prior relationship between Pluristem and disgraced stock promoter James Dale Davidson. Not enough to condemn the stock in itself, but in context ...
There's always an outside chance that this company is simply doing what it has to in order to survive and prove their therapy actually works. Empirically however, virtually all stocks with this kind of history prove to be failures if not outright scams.
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