Instead of Bizarre Super Bowl Prop Bets …

by James Brumley | January 31, 2013 9:16 am

If you’re like about 111 million other people in the world, you’ll be watching the 49ers take on the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday. If you’re like an estimated 200 million people, you’ll be making some sort of Super Bowl-based wager.

That’s right — more people bet on the Super Bowl than actually watch it.

There are some nutty betting scenarios, too, including whether either team will score a safety, the length of time it will take Alicia Keys to complete the national anthem before the game starts, and even how many times the name “Harbaugh” will be uttered by the game’s TV commentators. The so-called “action” is tempting, too. A $100 bet that Keys will be booed following her rendition of the anthem will pay you back $500 if you’re right.

If that’s the kind of gambling that floats your boat, then have at it. If that’s the kind of obscure, crazy stuff you’re willing to bet on, though, you also might be interested in taking a flier on these three high-risk/high-reward stocks:


If you wanted to call VirnetX Holding (AMEX:VHC[1]) a patent troll, you wouldn’t be the first. Thing is, VirnetX has proven and defended its patent portfolio pretty well of late, with possibly another big court victory — maybe the biggest ever (in terms of impact) — just around the corner.

VirnetX might ultimately win an injunction against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL[2]) that would prohibit it from selling most of its products in United States. The list of jeopardized products includes the iPad and the iPhone.

Just to be clear, an outright injunction is a long shot for VirnetX. But, even without an injunction, Apple is going to be forced to deal with VirnetX, as the trial’s jury has already determined Apple did indeed infringe on four VirnetX patents. The question from here is just a matter of how much more (beyond he already-awarded past damages), and will the rest of the payout come in the form of a one-time settlement, or will Apple actually take the chance of letting the judge determine future royalties on the patented technology it’s still using?

It’s a bit of a win-win either way for VirnetX, assuming the judge decides as he’s largely expected to.


As a technology consulting company, Perficient (NASDAQ:PRFT[3]) doesn’t appear to be anything special … on the surface. When you look under the hood, though, this $394 million organization has more going for it than it might seem. The biggest one? Earnings growth. Per-share income has expanded from 2009’s 36 cents to what should be 93 cents for 2012. Experts are looking for $1.04 per share in 2013. That translates into a forward-looking P/E of 11.4.

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That’s not the juicy part of the picture, however. Despite the fact that income has been on the rise since 2009, PRFT hasn’t budged since 2010. If the doubt was merited, it would have been vindicated by now. Something’s got to give soon, and it’s likely to be the ceiling that’s been holding the stock down.

The naysayers are still talking Perficient down, but the good news is starting to piling up.

Dynavax Technologies

If you like trading binary events like drug approvals, then be sure to mark Sunday, Feb. 10, on your calendar. That’s the day Dynavax Technologies (NASDAQ:DVAX[4]) will get the thumbs up or thumbs down from the FDA regarding its hepatitis B immunization drug Heplisav.

The stock has been eerily tame for a biotech name just a couple of weeks away from an approval decision. Most of the time, traders start jockeying a few weeks ahead of time, just to make sure they get a good price on their trade, and to beat others to the punch. Perhaps the lack of trading interest now should be an omen. Or, maybe the market’s indecision just reflects the advisory panel’s.

Although the FDA’s pre-PDUFA advisory committee — the committee that makes recommendations to the FDA’s final decision makers — voted favorably (13 to 1) when asked if Heplisav was effective, the same committee also voted against (5 to 8) the drug clearly being safe enough to approve it.

The odds still slightly favor an approval, and the fact that the hepatitis B market is relatively under-served helps. Still, there’s a slight shadow of doubt here that could work to speculators’ advantage.

Be Smart

The usual caveats apply — don’t risk more than you can afford to lose. Translation: These ideas are only for the high-risk portion of your portfolio. And, there’s absolutely no guarantee any of them will work out.

If you can handle all of that, though, then some of these picks might make for interesting conversation during the game’s halftime.

On second thought, these picks might make for good conversation this coming Monday. The halftime television commercials should be as heavily watched as the game.

As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

  1. VHC:
  2. AAPL:
  3. PRFT:
  4. DVAX:

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