HMN Financial Inc. (Nasdaq: HMNF) Stellar Results but is Anyone Watching?

HMNF Financial, Inc. – Nasdaq: HMNF

Shares of HMN Financial Inc. bucked the banking sector trend today and ended up over 6%. HMNF, traded on the Nasdaq, closed at $17.35 on Wednesday and closed today at $18.50 on heavy volume. Today’s rise in value was notable when positioned against the Thomson Reuters Financials Index that saw a 0.27% drop. However, HMNF has been doing well for years. Since it traded below $2.00 in 2012, the shares of MNF Financial Inc. have had a relatively steady climb upwards.

HMN Financial, Inc. is a stock savings bank holding company, which was incorporated in Delaware in 1994. The Company owns 100 percent of Home Federal Savings Bank. Home Federal, originally chartered in 1934, has a community banking philosophy and operates retail banking and loan production facilities in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The Bank has two wholly owned subsidiaries, Osterud Insurance Agency, Inc. which offers financial planning products and services, and HFSB Property Holding LLC, which acts as an intermediary for the bank in holding and operating certain foreclosed properties.

HMN Financial Inc. had impressive 3rd quarter results. From their press release:

Year to Date Summary

  • Net income of $4.7 million, up $2.8 million, compared to net income of $1.9 million in first nine months of 2015
  • Diluted earnings per share of $0.99, up $0.61, compared to diluted earnings per share of $0.38 in first nine months of 2015
  • Net interest income of $19.5 million, up $5.2 million from first nine months of 2015
  • Total assets increased $43 million, or 6.6%, in first nine months of 2016

Interestingly, no analysts cover HMN Financial Inc. An interesting observation when you consider the shares have increased 900% since 2012. There is a lot of inside ownership and little short sales on HMNF.

I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 96 hours. All information, or data, is provided with no guarantees of accuracy.

Ticker Symbol HMNF
Last Price a/o 4:00 PM EST  $                    18.50
Average Volume 3,400
Market Cap $77.9 million
Sales $5.8 million
Shares Outstanding 4.5 million
Share Float 3.52 million
Shortable Yes
Optionable No
Inside Ownership 31.36%
Short Float 0.06%
Short Interest Ratio 0.65
Quarterly Return 22.10%
YTD Return 50.22%
Year Return 50.22%

Update! Live Ventures Inc. (Nasdaq: LIVE) Announces 136% Earnings Increase!

Reporting its most successful year in the Company’s history, Live Ventures reported a record $79M in revenues, an increase of 136 percent over the previous year, and net profit of approximately $17.82M, representing earnings per share (EPS) of $8.92.

Stockholders’ equity, which is management’s preferred measurement for performance, increased by 192 percent over 2015.  Since present management took over five years ago, stockholders equity has grown at a rate of 100.58 percent compounded annually.

“Live Ventures has truly come a long way since its founding in 1968, when we were known as Nuclear Corporation of New Mexico,” said Jon Isaac, CEO of Live Ventures Incorporated. “We are elated with these most recent results and are grateful for the hard work of our employees, who were essential to the Company’s recent success.”

Live Ventures Inc. – Nasdaq: LIVE

Today Live Ventures Inc. announced that it will announce financial results from its fiscal year-end 2016 on December 28, 2016 – tomorrow. Shares are traded on the Nasdaq under the ticker LIVE. LIVE shares have done well recently. LIVE traded under $15 at the beginning of December, but today’s high is over $25. This could be an indicator of investor sentiment regarding tomorrow’s earnings announcement.

Live Ventures Incorporated, based in Las Vegas, NV, operates through three segments: Legacy Merchant’s Services, Manufacturing and Industrial Products, and Online Marketplace Platforms. It manufactures and markets carpets and rugs, and yarn products through carpet dealers for residential, niche commercial, and hospitality end-markets, as well as engages in the resale of hard surface flooring products. The company also operates, a deal engine that connects restaurants with consumers, as well as offers marketing solutions to restaurants to boost customer awareness and merchant visibility on the Internet. It also engages in the online retail of products that range from kitchen and dining products, apparel, and sporting goods to children’s toys and beauty products. In addition, the company develops and markets a suite of products and services to meet the online marketing needs of small and medium businesses.

LIVE shares have never enjoyed postive EPS. However, 2015 reported sales were $33.4 million – more than four times the reported 2014 reported sales of $7.3 million. While outstanding shares of Live Ventures Inc. have increased each year, there are no reported sales of LIVE even though the company has an inside ownership over 50%.

I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 96 hours. All information, or data, is provided with no guarantees of accuracy.

Ticker Symbol LIVE
Last Price a/o 11:45 AM EST  $             25.05
Average Volume 3.05 million
Market Cap $66.58 million
Sales $78.1 million
Shares Outstanding 2.82 million
Share Float 1.81 million
Shortable Yes
Optionable Yes
Inside Ownership 50.20%
Short Float 26.30%
Short Interest Ratio 2.26
Quarterly Return 126.15%
YTD Return 169.52%
Year Return 124.86%

GoPro, Inc. (Nasdaq: GPRO) Short Target – But for How Long?

GoPro Inc.; Nasdaq: GPRO

Since November 7, 2016 four of the 15 analysts covering GoPro Inc. have downgraded its shares – traded on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol GPRO. Currently two analysts rate it as a “Strong Buy”, ten rate it as a “Hold”, one gives it an “Underperform”, and two have it rated as a “Sell”.

In 2014 GPRO was trading over $90, today it is trading in the $9 handle. GPRO shares have a Short Float figure over 32%. This means that for all the shares typically available to the investing public, over 32% have been borrowed as part of a short-sale which will profit if the shares decline in price. This is a fairly high figure by industry standard.

But the blame does not fall solely on short-sellers. GoPro Inc made an expensive effort to be a deliverer of content. Although they spent a lot of money trying to develop that market, success never materialized and GoPro Inc recently announce it will lay off about 15% of its workforce in an attempt to return to profitability in 2017.

Should GoPro Inc. continue its sales growth (year-on-year increases since 2011) and reverse GPRO EPS losses, shorts could be forced to cover their positions which might send shares of GPRO up rapidly. One must wonder just how much more the bottom is for this beleaguered stock.

I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 96 hours. All information, or data, is provided with no guarantees of accuracy.

Ticker Symbol GPRO
Last Price a/o 2:48 PM EST  $               9.02
Average Volume 6.19 million
Market Cap $1.1 Billion
Sales $1.08 Billion
Shares Outstanding 135.57 million
Share Float 100.59 million
Shortable Yes
Optionable Yes
Inside Ownership 0.50%
Short Float 32.59%
Short Interest Ratio 5.3
Quarterly Return -44.55%
YTD Return -50.58%
Year Return -51.47%

Peak Resorts (Nasdaq: SKIS) Gets Capital Injection

Peak Resorts Inc. – Nasdaq: SKIS

SKIS is experiencing higher values on larger volumes. Investors appear to be reacting to the news that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have approved the first I-526 Petition submitted by an investor in its Mount Snow EB-5 program, through which Peak Resorts Inc has raised $52 million in capital for infrastructure improvements for Mount Snow ski resort in West Dover, Vermont.

Peak Resorts Inc., headquartered in Missouri, is a leading owner and operator of high-quality, individually branded ski resorts in the U.S. It trades under the Nasdaq ticker SKIS. Peak Resorts Inc. operates 14 ski resorts primarily located in the Northeast and Midwest, 13 of which we own. Most Peak Resort’s Inc. properties are located within 100 miles of major metropolitan markets, including New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and St. Louis. The resorts are comprised of nearly 1,890 acres of skiable terrain and offer dining, lodging, equipment rentals and sales, ski and snowboard instruction, mountain biking, music festivals, and zip line tours.

Per Timothy D. Boyd, president and chief executive officer of Peak Resorts, “Once completed, the West Lake project will allow Mount Snow to start each ski season with as much as 50 percent of its terrain open. It will also provide enough water to eventually cover 100 percent of our trails with snowmaking. Further enhancing the ski experience at Mount Snow should help us gain an even greater share of the Vermont ski market – the No. 1 market in the region.”

Six firms rate SKIS as a “Strong Buy”. Sales have been relatively stable. In 2011, sales topped $82 million and increased to $105 million in 2014 before dropping a bit in 2015 to $95.7 million.

Always perform your own due diligence before making any decisions regarding the buy or sale of any stock. The below data is provided without any guarantee of its accuracy.

Ticker Symbol SKIS
Last Price a/o 2:04 EST  $                     5.78
Average Volume 26,500
Market Cap $69 million
Sales $99.7 million
Shares Outstanding 13.7 million
Share Float 10.34 million
Shortable Yes
Optionable Yes
Inside Ownership 23.27%
Short Float 0.50%
Short Interest Ratio 1.94
Quarterly Return 9.31%
YTD Return -16.00%
Year Return -20.76%

Pure Storage (NYSE: PSTG) – Ready to Burn the Shorts?

Time to Buy Pure Storage Inc.? – Nasdaq ticker: PSTG

Pure Storage, Inc., headquartered in Mountain View, California invented all-flash enterprise storage. It operates primarily in the United States, Europe, and Asia. The company serves cloud-based software and service providers, e-commerce, education, energy, financial services, governments, healthcare, manufacturing, media, retail, and telecommunications sectors.

Recently the website claimed that PSTG is the #1 stock pick of the hedge fund community. They write “At the end of the third quarter, a total of 17 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of 21% from the second quarter of 2016. On the other hand, there were a total of 14 hedge funds with a bullish position in PSTG at the beginning of this year.” Investors should take note, however, that there appears to be large short positions on PSTG.

Over ten Wall St. investment banks provide coverage on Pure Storage Inc. including JP Morgan, Susquehanna, UBS, and Barclay’s. Their current reported ratings range from “Hold” to “Buy” with price targets ranging from $11 to $27. Yesterday, Thursday December 8, 2016, PSTG closed at $12.33.

While PSTG’s historical EPS was negative and falling, their most recently disclosed numbers saw a narrowing of EPS loss – beating street estimates. Pure Storage reported its Q3 earnings results on Wednesday, November 30th. The company reported a loss of $0.10 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of -$0.15 by $0.05. The company earned $197 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $192.36 million. Sales have not been a concern for holders of PSTG. In 2014 sales were a reported $$42.7 million growing to over $440 million in 2016.

Always perform your own due diligence before making any decisions regarding the buy or sale of any stock. The below data is provided without any guarantee of its accuracy.

Ticker Symbol PSTG
Last Price 12/8/2016 2:25 EST  $             12.33
Average Volume 1.1 million
Market Cap 2.4 Billion
Sales $650 million
Shares Outstanding 192.8 million
Share Float 71.3 million
Shortable Yes
Optionable Yes
Inside Ownership
Short Float 23.55%
Short Interest Ratio 14.54
Quarterly Return 1.23%
YTD Return 20.80%
Year Return -29.78%


Oil Rig UDW (Nasdaq: ORIG) Set to Regain Former Price Levels?

The incoming Trump administration is believed to want to pursue an “energy independent America” policy. This will mean reversing many Obama-implemented regulations and asking Congress to pass laws that benefit the fossil fuel industry. One small cap Nasdaq stock that may benefit is Ocean Rig UDW LLC.

Ocean Rig UDW LLC, trading under Nasdaq ticker ORIG, is an international offshore drilling contractor providing oilfield services for offshore oil and gas exploration, development, and production drilling, and specializing in the ultra-deepwater and harsh-environment segment of the offshore drilling industry. 

Ocean Rig UDW LLC owns and operates 13 offshore ultra deepwater drilling units, comprising of 2 ultra deepwater semisubmersible drilling rigs and 11 ultra deepwater drillships, two of which are scheduled to be delivered to the Company during 2017 and one in 2018.

However, with the incoming Trump administration and the new OPEC deal designed to regulate output, it may be time to consider another look at this former high-flier. In 2014, ORIG routinely traded over $15 with and EPS of $1.97. ORIG now trades under $2. Sales increased from $700 million in 2011 to $1.82 billion in 2014. In 2015, Ocean Rig UDW LLC reported sales of just $1.75 billion with earnings per share of $0.57.

Zacks research has recently given it a #1 rating based on their proprietary analytics. This is important because no investment bank analysts have yet upgraded their recommendations for ORIG. Should the investment bank analysts follow suit, we may see a price target more than double its current trading price of below $2.00. Prior to OPEC flooding the market ORIG was given price targets around $30 by bank analysts.

Always perform your own due diligence before making any decisions regarding the buy or sale of any stock. The below data is provided without any guarantee of its accuracy.

Ticker Symbol ORIG
Price $1.50
Average Volume 2.5 million
Market Cap $146 million
Sales $1.9 Billion
Shares Outstanding 79 million
Share Float 73.5 million
Shortable Yes
Optionable Yes
Inside Ownership unkown
Short Float 15.30%
Short Interest Ratio 4.46
Quarterly Return 139%
YTD Return 14.11%
Year Return 7.50%


Flash Update: Cemtrex (CETX) Gets Big News!

Since appearing in StockNewsUnion on Oct 19th, Cemtrex (Nasdaq: CETX) has been the recipient of some good news. On November 16th, 2016 Cemtrex announced that it has been listed, for the third time, in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™. According to Deloitte’s website – “Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 award winners are selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth over a three-year period. The ranking is compiled from applications submitted directly to the Technology Fast 500 web site and public company database research conducted by Deloitte LLP.”

Per reports, Cemtrex has achieved 368% growth over the last four years. Yahoo!Finance reports that Centrex Chairman and CEO Saagar Govil commented ““We are delighted to be honored by Deloitte with this recognition by the 2016 Technology Fast 500™ ranking.  Our organic growth continues to be strong, as we focus on expanding niches within our overall end-markets like the automotive, medical, industrial, and wearable industries. At the same time, our acquisition strategy is designed to strengthen our position in these areas and enter additional niches that have significant growth prospects.”

In other news that may benefit Cemtrex, on November 2, 2016 China announced that it will put in place a carbon cap-and-trade program that could double the global carbon trade market that figures so prominently into Cemtrex’s future business plans. Sources on the street say that shareholders of CETX are excited about this news. Cemtrex owns proprietary technology under the trademark MCDR. This technology economically destroys methane gas and, at the same time, generates carbon credits for the user. Cemtrex claims that the $2 million cost can be recouped by a licensee within four years.

Lastly, Centrex is said to have entered into an acquisition agreement to purchase a Silicon Valley based electronics manufacturing firm. Cemtrex’s pending acquisition of the manufacturer is considered a strategic milestone in the history of the firm by Cemtrex management.

CETX closed at $4.30 as of close on November 17, 2016.

Acura Pharmaceuticals Addressing Medication Abuse and Misuse

Acura Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Acura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ACUR) is a pharmaceutical company that addresses medication abuse and misuse. It has developed three technologies

  1. Oxaydo Tablets – an approved and immediate-release (IR) oxycodone product;
  2. Nexafed – Sinus Pressure and Pain; and
  3. Limitx – impedes the release of active drug ingredients in cases where too many tablets were taken on purpose or by accident.

Financial results for the second quarter FY 2016

For the period ended June 30, 2016, Acura Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced results of a net loss of $3.3 million for the second quarter of 2016 ($0.28 per diluted share) compared to a net loss of $2.7 million ($0.27 per diluted share) for the same period of the previous year. Revenues for the quarter were $257,000 compared to $341,000 in the previous year. Research and development expenses were $1.4 million for the quarter compared to $0.5 million for the same period of the previous year.

As of August 5, 2016, the unrestricted balance of cash and cash equivalents came to approximately $3.4 million.

ACUR Developments

Acura Pharmaceuticals Inc. has entered a licensing agreement with KemPharm, Inc. (NASDAQ: KMPH), a clinical-stage specialty pharmaceutical company, by which the company will provide its proprietary Aversion® Technology to KemPharm to use with its current and in-development immediate release (IR) opioid product candidates. The technology is a patented combination of pharmaceutical ingredients which provides abuse deterrent features and benefits for orally administered pharmaceutical drugs. The agreement provides for an upfront cash payment of $3.5 million and gives KemPharma development and commercialization rights for up to 3 product candidates which contain two opioid products. Additional payments are to be made if an option to use more than the three products is exercised. The company is also eligible to receive royalties on commercial sales at a low single digit rate of all products developed under the agreement. The President and CEO of KemPharm Travis Mickle said that the agreement offered potential benefits and will help the company to bridge the regulatory approval process between current products.

The need for abuse deterrent products and the market opportunity

 The misuse and abuse of prescription drugs and opioid analgesics is a significant problem in society that has been described as a top priority by leaders at the national level. The company’s abuse deterrent technology platforms can produce potential benefits in combating the abuse of opioid analgesics, non-opioid drugs and nasal decongestants.

In the case of opioid analgesics, many physicians have indicated concern about the misuse of prescribed medications for non-medical uses and abuse by their patients. Several independent organisations have estimated that the potential cost impact to insurers by abusers is $14,000 higher than non-abusers. The total cost of the abuse could be up to $72.5 billion every year. In the case of nasal decongestants, a widely-used product is pseudo-ephedrine which can be used to produce methamphetamine, which is an illicit drug estimated to be abused by 1.1 million Americans every year.

Bottom line on ACUR

A survey of market experts forecasts an EPS of $0.235 for Acura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The two brokerages who cover the stock have an average price target of $8. As of November 11, 2016, ACUR closed at $1.00.







Update! Breaking News on MabVax (Nasdaq: MBVX)

11/14/2016 UPDATE!

Click for updated news – MabVax reports on Phase I clinical trials

MabVax Therapeutics Holdings Inc

MabVax Therapeutics Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:MBVX) is a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on the development of antibody-based products to help in the treatment of cancer. It has discovered a pipeline of human monoclonal antibody products based on the protective immune responses from patients who have been immunised against targeted cancer with MabVax’s proprietary vaccines.

One of the positive aspects of the HuMab-5B1 antibody is that it is fully human – it was discovered from the immune response of cancer patients vaccinated with an antigen-specific vaccine during a Phase I trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). In preclinical research, the 5B1 antibody has demonstrated a high degree of efficiency and the antigen targeted is expressed on more than 90% of pancreatic cancers making the antibody potentially broadly applicable to most patients suffering from this type of cancer. MabVax’s two lead antibody clinical programs, currently in Phase I clinical trials, utilize HuMab-5B1 as a naked antibody (MVT-5873) and as an immuno-PET imaging agent (MVT-2163). Importantly, MabVax also has the exclusive license to the therapeutic vaccines from MSK.

The company has announced the commencement of common stock trading on NASDAQ under the ticker MBVX, as well as the pricing of a public offering worth $8.625 million in the form of common stock and series F preferred stock. The total expected gross proceeds are before underwriting discount and expenses. The company also is expecting a reverse split of its common stock in the ratio of 1 for 7.4. The purpose of the reverse stock split and public offering is to enable the company to satisfy the minimum stockholder equity and stock price requirements of NASDAQ for uplisting and provide capital for the clinical development plans.

The bottom line on MBVX

Sources believe the available indications are moving with this company in a positive trend. The cash on hand is in excess of $ 10 million as of 2016 and the recent uplisting on NASDAQ (MBVX) has made many people bullish about its prospects with some analysts expecting to see a target price of $18.00. MBVX was trading in the $4.00 handle as of this writing. Investors considering adding this stock to their portfolio should consider that early-stage drug development companies are relatively high risk.

PhaseRx Inc (NASDAQ: PZRX) – addressing the source of the issue

PhaseRx Inc. – high-risk but potentially high reward

PhaseRx Inc (NASDAQ: PZRX) focuses on the creation of better treatment for children suffering from inherited diseases by correcting the problem at the source. PhaseRx products attempt to replace missing or damaged enzymes, allowing the natural processes of the body to work. It is developing a portfolio of mRNA products for the treatment of inherited liver disease and expects to achieve clinical proof of concept in 2018. The current product portfolio is focused on the treatment of urea cycle disorders, which can cause cumulative and irreversible brain damage. The company believes that this technology can be applied to a significant number of other inherited liver diseases.

The company believes that the market opportunity for intracellular enzyme replacement therapy is untouched when compared to the $4 billion global market for conventional enzyme replacement therapy. The company’s approach of replacing defective enzymes within cells is expected to enable the treatment of diseases which cannot be treated with current replacement therapies. The company also expects to benefit from the FDA Orphan Drug Program, which provides economic incentives for companies developing treatments for rare diseases. The company is also addressing the key challenge with mRNA therapeutics of effective delivery by providing a sophisticated delivery solution.

The IPO and subsequent developments

The company made its debut on NASDAQ in May of 2016 and initially traded at just over $5 a share, with a peak of $ 5.64. The price declined over the next four months to the current levels of just over $ 2.57 per share as of September 30, 2016. The company has defined its lead candidate and the target, which is a condition known as ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency, and for which the targeted treatment is a drug called PRX-OTC. In the most basic terms,PRX-OTC delivers OTC mRNA production capabilities to the liver, which can then start producing the enzyme. The proposed treatment is still in its infancy and the company only has proof of concept derived from testing mice. The company is also investigating a second drug called PRX-ASL for the treatment of Argininosuccinate Lyase Deficiency (ASLD). Both these treatments have very few current options are the market is potentially large and profitable despite the comparative rarity of these diseases.

Market prospects and risks

The FDA initiatives such as Orphan Drug Designation for rare diseases have boosted treatment development and a large amount of capital is being invested in treatments. A number of large companies are spending large amounts of money, including the likes of Sanofi SA (NYSE: SNY), and Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), all of which involve the use of viral vector programs. PhaseRX is seeking partnerships and licensing arrangements with large, companies and the demonstration of the efficacy of its approach could interest a number of big players. However, the major risk lies in the relative youth of the company and the fact that the proof of concept developed with mice may not easily transfer when it comes to human beings. Moreover, PhaseRX will need fresh capital to fund the necessary trials though it may be able to pick up some funding from a prospective partner.

The bottom line

All said and done, early-stage drug development treatment companies are high-risk investments And though there is a high failure rate for young companies in the biotechnology business, PhaseRX has its advantages compared to the rest of the pack. The established $4 billion global market for traditional enzyme replacement therapy suggests that whoever succeeds in alternative therapies could be looking at a large and potentially lucrative market.