Escalon Down on Placement

The wild ride for micro-cap Escalon Medical ( ESMC) got bumpier after the bell Wednesday when the company announced it had privately placed 800,000 common shares at a sharp discount to their current market price.

Escalon said it sold 800,000 shares at $13 each, plus warrants on 120,000 common shares exercisable at $16.50 each, to qualified investors in an unregistered public offering, raising $9.8 million after expenses. The company said it will use the money to strengthen its balance sheet and for general corporate purposes.

The discount to market was narrowing in after-hours trading as the stock fell $2.66, or 14%, to $16.50. The shares closed regular trading at $19.16, up $2.81, or 17%, on seven times average volume.

The deal will raise the company's outstanding share count to 5,015,829, not including shares covered by the warrants. The company had 4.2 million average shares outstanding in its second quarter ended Dec. 31.

Escalon's chart has been typical of many small-float companies over the last few weeks, with the stock jumping from a March 5 close of $15.50 to $20.25 the next trading day. A company official attributed the runup to a bullish newspaper story. They fell back to close at $16.35 Tuesday before running up again in today's session. The stock traded below $10 in mid-February.

A phone call to the company's corporate headquarters went unanswered Wednesday evening.

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