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Life Beyond Batteries

Altair's fortunes aren't tied solely to its ability to bring a battery to market.

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (SPPI) agreed to license Altair's RenaZorb, which is used to treat hyperphosphatemia, or high phosphorus levels in the blood, of end-state renal disease patients. RenaZorb, which uses Altair's lanthanum nanomaterial technology, is evidence of Altair's diverse product platform. The deal provides Altair with 100,000 shares of restricted Spectrum shares, the purchase of $200,000 worth of Altair shares by Spectrum, and undisclosed milestone payments based on future clinical and sales goals.

Altair notched $1.2 million in sales in 2004, a small amount to be sure, but the total was a marked improvement from the $73,000 in sales the company generated in 2003. That said, the company has a solid balance sheet and recently took advantage of its surge in market value to sell 5 million shares, bringing its total cash balance to $31 million with virtually no debt. This should be enough to allow Altair to bring a product to the market within the next few years.

There is a lot of hope built into Altair's stock at its current $200 million market cap. But with just 43 million shares outstanding and no analyst coverage, Altair's shares could rally meaningfully on good news and an increased media following, as its battery technology moves from a great idea to a marketable product.

Based upon our conversations with sources familiar with the company, we wouldn't be surprised to hear a partnership announced within the next three months, which could push shares over the $5 mark and in front of institutional investors who ordinarily shy away from low-dollar stocks. Given the inherent risk with the stock, though, we would look to pare any losses near the $3.80-a-share level, or 9% below the stock's current quote.

William Gabrielski is a research associate at TheStreet.com and is accredited with a Series 7 license. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks.

David Peltier is a research associate at TheStreet.com In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Peltier welcomes your feedback and invites you to send your comments to david.peltier@thestreet.com.

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