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Revisiting Some Speculative Plays

Editor's Note: This was originally published as an alert at 11:20 a.m. EST on Dec. 23 to subscribers of's Stocks Under $10. The stock prices and returns have been updated to reflect today's levels.

Earlier this month we put together a basket of five low-priced stocks that we believed would outperform the market in December due to increased investor demand for speculative stocks. The moves we were seeing in stocks like Sirius (SIRI) and Genta (GNTA) seeded this concept.

Here they are again, along with a performance table to track our performance:

Stemcells (STEM) is up 22% at $3.62.
Aphton (APHT) is off 2.5% at $3.14.
E-Loan (EELN) is up 15% at $3.31.
Tut Systems (TUTS) is up 2.4% at $3.84.
OpenTV (OPTV) is essentially flat at $3.82.

Last night we had two double-digit gainers; Aphton and E-Loan, and today, we can add Stemcells to the list. News that stem cells could be used to treat often-fatal cystic fibrosis has the stock trading 15% higher to $3.58 a share. (Geron, our stem-cell play in the model portfolio, already has climbed 15% this week.)

We would be locking in gains in some of the names today if we owned them for our model portfolio, and now we want to elaborate on why this portfolio worked.

On the whole, the portfolio is 7% higher than the Dec. 8 entry prices, while the S&P 500 is up 2.97% during the same period. (Readers who took some gains off the table in Aphton on Dec. 10 and E-Loan on Dec. 10 and Dec. 15 have a 10.92% gain.)

We would close out of Aphton here for a 10.91% gain. No phase III data have been reported yet for its gastrointestinal cancer vaccine, and we view the risk/reward here as more negative than it was earlier this month.

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