The 52-week low for shares of micro-cap Ibio Inc (IBIO) is 24 cents per share. Today, IBIO stock trades for more than 10 times that amount. What catalyst could possibly be behind the meteoric rise of IBIO in such a short period of time?
Market hysteria and all-caps front-page headlines focusing on Ebola could do it.
From a purely financial point of view, Ibio’s financials are far from impressive. But the fact that Ibio offered to help the U.S. government in the production of a possible Ebola drug sent Wall Street speculators on a buying frenzy. The tricky thing about speculative plays, however, is that they tend to crater just as rapidly as they soar. And Ibio stock plunged as much as 20% in Monday trading as the Ebola media frenzy seemed to die down.
CNN.com, for instance, did a shameless about-face today, as its headline read: “Ebola hysteria: An epic, epidemic overreaction.” Quite a different tune from the end-of-days, sensationalist headlines the site’s been running in recent weeks.
Shares of Lakeland Industries (LAKE), which also benefited from an absurd sort of apocalyptic profiteering mentality in recent weeks, find themselves in similar territory to IBIO stock owners. I warned investors last week not to invest in LAKE stock, as shares of the hazmat suits-maker still looked incredibly overvalued even given extraordinarily optimistic assumptions. Here’s some of the math behind my bearish take on LAKE stock:
Lakeland’s market capitalization is about $130 million right now. Even if increased sales were enough to triple this year from FY14, annual sales would be $274 million (a figure Lakeland has never been close to reaching, but never mind that right now). In that already dreamy scenario, let’s assume net margins miraculously hit their highest level over the past five years, 1.13%. How would LAKE stock look?
Profits would be about $3.1 million, which for 5.62 million shares outstanding yields FY15 earnings of 55 cents per share. LAKE trades in the $24 per share range, so more than 40 times forward earnings, even after extremely generous assumptions.
Since that writing, LAKE stock has lost about 35% of its value. I expect similarly awful (and very possibly worse) returns from IBIO stock from here on out, especially since IBIO’s financials are far, far worse than LAKE’s. Consider this: in the past four fiscal years IBIO has logged a total of $3 million in sales — and more than $33 million in losses. Lakeland Industries actually sells about $100 million of product each year and comes close to making a profit every now and then.
If you’re an IBIO shareholder, look out below. The penny stock days aren’t totally behind you.
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As of this writing John Divine held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter at @divinebizkid.