"What do you think about ACTC? Is Socius funding kiss of death? Have any additional information to share on Socius/Peizer?"
This was in response to a tweet of mine pointing out that
Advanced Cell Technologies
nabbed $25 million in funding from
Socius Capital Group
. Sounds innocuous enough, but Socius is chaired by Terren Peizer, the founder and CEO of
, peddlers of the
controversial Prometa addiction treatment program
. Peizer claims Prometa is a revolutionary new way for addicts to kick the habit. Critics accuse Peizer of selling snake oil. I suggest checking out Hythiam's stock chart over the past few years before deciding which side is right.
Now, Advanced Cell's embryonic stem cell research has nothing to do with Hythiam or treating drug addicts. However, if Advanced Cell's stem cell technology is as revolutionary as its founders claim, why does the stock trade on the bulletin boards, and why does the company need to seek out funding from someone as controversial as Peizer?
Socius has an "impressive record of making investments in emerging life scienes companies," said Advanced Cell in its funding announcement. I checked Socius' recent filings with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
and found that the firm's investment holdings include
New Generation Biofuels Holdings
Dutch Gold Resources
International Stem Cell
, among others.
Advanced Cell, even trading for 20 cents a share, has an enterprise value of $250 million because the company has 1.3 billion shares outstanding! Traders likely consider a 20-cent stock to be cheap and love that the company issues press releases all day long to keep the stock liquid. For those of us who look at fundamentals and balance sheets, a $250 million enterprise value for a high-risk company like Advanced Cell is really expensive.
--Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.
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