For a company that specializes in focused beams of light, a certain murkiness engulfs Ionatron (IOTN).
The tiny, money-losing company is trying to build laser-powered weapons reminiscent of "Star Trek," but won't say much about its contract with the Pentagon. Meanwhile, a controversial chairman who was twice sanctioned by securities regulators is at the helm.
Not that it matters to investors, who sense lightning in a bottle with the three-year-old company's "laser-induced plasma channel weapons" that can "disable people or vehicles." Shares of the Tucson, Ariz.-based company are up 1,100%, to $10.60, since completing a so-called reverse merger in April with lawn-care company U.S. Home and Gardens.
The company's stock recently moved from the OTC Bulletin Board to the more respectable Nasdaq Small-Cap Market.Over the past several months, Ionatron has fueled investor expectations by announcing a big expansion plan and comparing its weapons to those produced by stun-gun manufacturer Taser International (TASR - Get Report), one of Wall Street's hottest stocks over the past two years. Ionatron's Web site describes its technology as a nonlethal alternative to guns, although "lethal configurations are also available." Similarly,