Beware the ATM: ARCA Biopharma (ABIO) Edition

It has been awhile since my last trading strategy post so I thought I would write one about something that I have been paying attention to recently. If you don’t know my core beliefs on trading strategy, read these classic blog posts first:

So you want to be a trader, Part 1
So you want to be a trader, Part 2: Finding a trading system & dealing with emotion

A good chunk of the money I make comes from day-trading. The most important thing when considering a day-trade is that fundamentals almost don’t matter — what matters is supply and demand for the stock. If you can identify situations where demand will drop throughout the day or supply will increase, or both, you will be able to profit from short-selling. Conversely, if you can identify decreasing supply or increasing demand, you can profit from buying.

Perhaps one of the most predictable sources of increased supply of stock is the company issuing shares through an already-existing ‘at-the-market’ offering, commonly known as an ATM. Now it is one thing to identify a situation where a company has an outstanding ATM facility and the company needs cash (as can be known by looking at the balance sheet and cash flow statement). That is certainly useful and many traders do that. But wouldn’t it be even better to spend the time to follow such situations prospectively and then identify how often and how much those ATMs were actually used?

This is what I am spending time and effort on right now: whenever I see a stock gapping up on news that I might want to short because the news isn’t really that great, I look for outstanding ATMs. Regardless of whether I trade the stock or not, I make a note to look back at the SEC filings in the future to see if the company actually did sell shares through the ATM on that and following days. By doing this I will get a better sense of how reliably companies will use their ATMs in these situations and this will help me better evaluate the risks of shorting these stocks.

The first stock I made a note to look back at was Arca Biopharma (ABIO). This makes for a perfect example because the company put out a 10-K soon after having a big spike on February 20, 2019, and the stock had very low volume prior to that spike. So let’s take a look. Below is the daily candlestick chart of ABIO for the year up until today.

Having identified the stock as worthy of interest and having an ATM on February 20th, we can now look at the filings to see if it used that ATM. On February 27nd, the company filed its 10-K for the year ended December 31st. On the first page we find this: “As of February 22, 2019, the Registrant had 18,355,111 shares of common stock outstanding.” The balance sheet lists 13,924,058 shares outstanding as of December 31st, 2018. So from January 1st to February 22nd, 201 ABIO issued 4.43 million shares, increasing the share count by 31.8%. Next we go to the section entitled “(7) Equity Financings and Warrants” — I knew to go there because I searched the document for “at the market” (if that doesn’t work search “at-the-market”. Unfortunately, that just describes the ATM usage for 2017 and 2018 — I want more recent issuance so I go to the “subsequent event(s)” section.

In January 2019, the Company amended the Sales Agreement to increase the maximum aggregate value of shares which it may issue and sell from time to time under the Sales Agreement by approximately $2.5 million, from $10.2 million to $12.7 million. Subsequent to December 31, 2018, the Company sold an aggregate of 4,431,053 shares of its Common Stock pursuant to the terms of the Sales Agreement, as amended, for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $2.5 million. Net proceeds received in the period were approximately $2.4 million, after deducting initial expenses for executing the “at the market offering” and commissions paid to the placement agent. As of February 22, 2019, the Company has sold all shares available under its current prospectus to the Company’s registration statement on Form S-3 (No. 333-217450).

So between January 1st and February 22nd of 2019 Arca Biopharma sold 4.431 million shares through its ATM (which is now exhausted — the company will have to file an amended S-3 registration statement if it wishes to sell more shares) for gross proceeds of $2.5 million. Divide $2.5m by 4.431m shares to get an average price of $0.5642 per share. Given that prior to February 20th, the stock traded an average of under 200,000 shares per day and never traded over $0.45, it is a good bet that Arca Biopharma sold no shares during that time period. (Also, as of the amended prospectus on January 25th, the company said it had sold a total of $10,083,445 worth of stock through its ATM, while as of Frebruary 22nd that was $12.6 million, meaning the company sold no shares or almost no shares from January 1st to January 22nd.)

On February 20th, the stock opened at $0.90, hit a high of $0.97, and closed at the low of $0.508. Below is an intraday 5-minute candlestick chart of ABIO from that day. Note that the volume-weighted average price (VWAP) was $0.704 at the end of the day. The next day the VWAP was $0.487. So it is likely that the company sold a large number of shares over both days. The volume on February 20th was 25.94 million shares, and it was 7.14 million shares the next day. Over those two days the company likely sold 4.43 million shares, 13.4% of the total trading volume those days. It is important to look at the total trading volume like this and not just the increase in shares outstanding because if the number of shares sold by the company is small relative to the trading volume it is still possible for the stock to spike big. But here, with 13.4% of the volume being sales by the company through the ATM, that was not possible and it was all but inevitable that the stock would drop as it did.

(Two day 5-minute candlestick chart;click to enlarge)

For more on dilution, I recommend following AuspexResearch on Twitter. He is the one who got me to start looking at this stuff a couple years ago. Read a few of his Twitlonger posts.

Below is the full text of the February 20th press release that caused the stock to spike:

ARCA Biopharma Announces FDA Agreement for a Single Phase 3 Clinical Trial to Support Approval for the First Genetically-Targeted Cardiovascular Drug

GlobeNewswire•February 20, 2019
FDA Special Protocol Assessment agreement granted for PRECISION-AF clinical trial evaluating Gencaro as a potential treatment for atrial fibrillation in a heart failure population that has no FDA approved drug therapies 58% treatment benefit seen versus active comparator in Phase 2B for planned Phase 3 target population
Gencaro development program has FDA Fast Track designation
U.S. and European cardiovascular patents and regulations may provide commercial exclusivity for Gencaro for 10 years post approval
WESTMINSTER, Colo., Feb. 20, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — ARCA biopharma, Inc. (ABIO), a biopharmaceutical company applying a precision medicine approach to developing genetically-targeted therapies for cardiovascular diseases, today announced that it has reached agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding a Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) on the design of a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial, PRECISION-AF, to assess the safety and efficacy of GencaroTM (bucindolol hydrochloride) as a genetically-targeted treatment for atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients with a specific type of heart failure (HF). The target population for the planned Phase 3 clinical trial, partially identified by precision therapeutic phenotyping, currently has no FDA approved drug therapies. This SPA provides agreement that the Phase 3 protocol design, clinical endpoints, trial population and statistical analyses adequately address objectives that, if met, would support a regulatory submission seeking approval of Gencaro for the prevention of AF recurrence in a genotype-defined HF population.
If PRECISION-AF is successful and Gencaro gains regulatory approval, it has the potential to be unique in several aspects, including:
The first genetically-targeted cardiovascular therapy;
The only drug therapy indicated in HF patients with mid-range ejection fraction (HFmrEF); and,
The only drug therapy for AF approved against an active comparator.
The SPA process is designed to facilitate review and approval of drugs by allowing FDA to evaluate the proposed design and size of specific clinical trials that are intended to form the primary demonstration of a drug product’s efficacy and safety. FDA ultimately assesses whether the protocol design and planned analysis of the trial are acceptable to support regulatory approval of the product candidate for the indication studied. An SPA agreement can potentially reduce the regulatory risk of bringing a drug to market.
“Consistent with our mission to develop precision therapies on a pharmacogenetic platform, this SPA agreement with the FDA provides a clearly defined regulatory pathway for the Phase 3 development of Gencaro in a genotype-specific heart failure population that currently has no FDA approved drug therapy,” said Michael R. Bristow, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of ARCA biopharma. “If the previous foundational therapeutic observations in the GENETIC-AF and BEST trials are confirmed in PRECISION-AF, we believe Gencaro could potentially provide a new standard of treatment for AF prevention for the estimated 2.5 million HFmrEF patients in the major markets in U.S., Europe and Japan.”
In accordance with the Company’s SPA agreement with FDA, PRECISION-AF is designed as a single, adequate and well-controlled Phase 3 clinical trial that may be sufficient to support an New Drug Application (NDA) submission for an AF indication if the objectives of the trial are achieved consistent with the requirements of the SPA. The trial is designed as a double-blind, active-controlled, multicenter, international study comparing Gencaro with Toprol-XL (metoprolol succinate) for the prevention of AF recurrence or all-cause mortality (ACM) in HFmrEF patients. HFmrEF is defined as HF with a left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ≥ 40% and < 50%, which constituted approximately half of the enrolled population in the Phase 2 GENETIC-AF trial. PRECISION-AF is designed to enroll approximately 400 patients who have: HFmrEF, a recent AF event, and the genotype which responds most favorably to Gencaro. The primary endpoint of the trial will be time to first event of atrial fibrillation/atrial flutter (AF/AFL) or ACM during the 26-week Follow-up Period. In the recently completed GENETIC-AF trial, Gencaro showed a 58% treatment benefit compared to Toprol-XL in reducing AF recurrence in the HFmrEF population targeted for Phase 3 (hazard ratio = 0.42; 95% CI: 0.21, 0.86; p = 0.017). With 400 patients (200 per arm) the trial will have 90% power at a p-value of 0.01 to detect a 45% treatment benefit for Gencaro compared to Toprol-XL. Subject to securing additional financing, ARCA anticipates initiating PRECISION-AF in the fourth quarter of 2019.
About Special Protocol Assessment (SPA)
An SPA is an agreement with the FDA that the proposed trial protocol design, clinical endpoints and statistical analyses are acceptable to support regulatory approval. For further information regarding the SPA process, please visit the FDA website, A SPA agreement is not a guarantee of approval, and there are no assurances that the design of, or data collected from, the planned Gencaro clinical trial (PRECISION-AF) will be adequate to obtain the requisite regulatory approvals for the marketing of Gencaro.
About Atrial Fibrillation (AF)
AF, the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia, is a serious disorder in which the normally regular and coordinated contraction pattern of the heart’s two small upper chambers, or the atria, becomes irregular, rapid and uncoordinated. AF can cause distressing symptoms that significantly impact quality of life and can also bring potentially serious medical consequences, including increasing the risk of stroke and serious cardiovascular complications. AF is considered an epidemic cardiovascular disease and a major public health burden. In 2015, there were approximately 5.2 million patients who had been diagnosed with AF in the United States. It is estimated that AF costs the U.S. economy about $6.0 billion annually.
About ARCA biopharma
ARCA biopharma is dedicated to developing genetically-targeted therapies for cardiovascular diseases through a precision medicine approach to drug development. ARCA’s lead product candidate, GencaroTM (bucindolol hydrochloride), is an investigational, pharmacologically unique beta-blocker and mild vasodilator being developed for the potential treatment of atrial fibrillation in heart failure patients with mid-range ejection fraction. ARCA has identified common genetic variations that it believes predict individual patient response to Gencaro, giving it the potential to be the first genetically-targeted AF prevention treatment. The Gencaro development program has been granted Fast Track designation by FDA. ARCA is also developing AB171, a thiol-substituted isosorbide mononitrate, as a potential genetically-targeted treatment for heart failure and peripheral arterial disease (PAD). For more information, please visit
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” for purposes of the safe harbor provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include, but are not limited to, potential future development plans for Gencaro, ARCA’s ability to complete any Phase 3 clinical trial, the likelihood for PRECISION-AF results to satisfy the requirements of the SPA, ARCA’s ability to raise sufficient capital to fund the PRECSION-AF trial and its other operations, the expected features and characteristics of Gencaro, including the potential for genetic variations to predict individual patient response to Gencaro, Gencaro’s potential to treat AF and/or HFmrEF, future treatment options for patients with AF and/or HFmrEF, and the potential for Gencaro to be the first genetically-targeted AF prevention treatment. Such statements are based on management’s current expectations and involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results and performance could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of many factors, including, without limitation, the risks and uncertainties associated with: ARCA’s financial resources and whether they will be sufficient to meet its business objectives and operational requirements; ARCA may not be able to raise sufficient capital on acceptable terms, or at all, to continue development of Gencaro or to otherwise continue operations in the future; an FDA SPA agreement does not guarantee approval of Gencaro or any other particular outcome from regulatory review; results of earlier clinical trials may not be confirmed in future trials; the protection and market exclusivity provided by ARCA’s intellectual property; risks related to the drug discovery and the regulatory approval process; and, the impact of competitive products and technological changes. These and other factors are identified and described in more detail in ARCA’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including without limitation ARCA’s annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2017, and subsequent filings. ARCA disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
Investor & Media Contact:
Derek Cole
A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Disclaimer: I have no position in any stock mentioned above. I have no relationship with any parties mentioned above. This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.

The Great Seadrill trade I missed and the OCC

First, because I cannot resist — just replace “OPP” with “OCC” when you sing along.

I’m not down with OPP. But I am down with The OCC (The Options Clearing Corporation). They are the ones who determine settlement and other important technical details of traded options. For most options traders, The OCC is unimportant — each option has a strike price and an expiry date and that is all that really matters. But when there are corporate events such as mergers, splits, bankruptcies, and the like, the OCC’s decisions become important.

Seadrill Inc (SDRL) just emerged today from its long trip through bankruptcy. From the company’s press release:

SDRL – Seadrill Announces Emergence from Chapter 11

Hamilton, Bermuda, July 2, 2018 – Seadrill Limited (“Seadrill” or the “Company“) announces today (the “Effective Date“) that it has emerged from chapter 11 after successfully completing its reorganization pursuant to its chapter 11 plan of reorganization (the “Plan“). All conditions precedent to the restructuring contemplated by the Plan have been satisfied or otherwise waived.

The Plan has equitized approximately $2.4 billion in unsecured bond obligations, more than $1 billion in contingent newbuild obligations, substantial unliquidated guaranty obligations, and c. $250 million in unsecured interest rate and currency swap claims, while extending near term debt maturities, providing the Company with over $1 billion in fresh capital and leaving employee, customer, and ordinary trade claims largely unimpaired.

The Plan has re-profiled the Company’s debt and provided substantial liquidity that puts the Company in a strong position to execute its business plan. The figures presented below highlight key financial metrics as of the Effective Date:

  • total cash of c.$2.1 billion;
  • secured bank debt of c.$5.7 billion with the first maturity in 2022;
  • new Secured Notes of c.$880 million maturing in 2025;
  • backlog of c.$2.3 billion for Seadrill Limited, excluding Seamex and Seadrill Partners; and
  • common shares issued of 100 million as described further below.

Issuance, Listing and Trading of New Common Stock

The Company has received approval to list its new common shares with the new CUSIP number G7998G 106 (the “New Common Shares“) on the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE“) under the same NYSE ticker symbol “SDRL” as the Company’s existing common shares (with the CUSIP G7945E 105) (the “Existing Shares“).  Subject to the relevant approvals, the Company also intends to have its equity listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange (ISIN BMG7998G1069).

On the Effective Date, the Company will have approximately 100 million New Common Shares outstanding.  The New Common Shares will be allocated as set forth below, in accordance with provisions of the Plan and issued on the Effective Date:

  • 14.25% of the New Common Shares issued to holders of unsecured claims against the Company and certain of its chapter 11 debtor affiliates;
  • 23.75% of the New Common Shares issued to participants in the $200 million equity investment under the Plan;
  • 54.625% of the New Common Shares issued to participants in the $880 million new secured notes investment under the Plan;
  • 1.9% of the New Common Shares issued to holders of existing common equity interest in the Company as of the Effective Date, an effective exchange ratio of approximately 0.0037345 New Common Shares per each Existing Share, and
  • 5.475% of the New Common Shares issued as a structuring fee to certain of the new money investors.

Trading in approximately 16 million New Common Shares issued to existing shareholders and holders of unsecured claims will commence on the NYSE one day after the Effective Date, on July 3, 2018, under the ticker symbol “SDRL”. Additional shares may commence trading in the coming weeks after a resale registration statement on Form F-1 with respect to additional shares issued on the Effective Date to certain investors is declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Existing Shares will continue to trade on both the NYSE and Oslo Stock Exchanges under the same ticker symbol through the close of trading on the Effective Date but thereafter such trading will be suspended and the shares will be cancelled in due course.

Because the Company will continue to use the ticker symbol SDRL, holders of Existing Shares, brokers, dealers and agents effecting trades in the Existing Shares, and persons who expect to receive New Common Shares or effect trades in New Common Shares, should take note of the anticipated cancellation of the Existing Shares and issuance of New Common Shares, and the two different CUSIP numbers signifying the Existing Shares and the New Common Shares, in trading or taking any other actions in respect of shares of the Company that trade under the “SDRL” ticker.

Any questions regarding these distributions should be directed to the Company’s claims and noticing agent, Prime Clerk, on the numbers provided below.

Yesterday the OCC filed the preliminary notice (pdf) for how SDRL options would be treated. Below is the important part:

On April 17, 2018, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas Victoria Division confirmed the Second Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization (“Plan”) for Seadrill Limited (SDRL). The Plan became effective on July 2, 2018, and SDRL shares were canceled. Under the Plan, SDRL shares will be converted into the right to receive approximately 0.0037345 (New) Seadrill Limited Common Share. Pursuant to the Plan, fractional shares will be rounded up or down to the nearest whole share with half shares being
rounded down.

Because fractional share amounts less than 0.5 will be rounded down, it is anticipated that SDRL1 options will not be adjusted to call for delivery of (New) SDRL Common Shares (100 x approximately 0.0037345 = approximately 0.37345). OCC will delay settlement until the final rate has been confirmed.

What this means is that the options will now be for zero shares of new SDRL. So one $0.50 put will pay out $50.00. So even if someone had bought $0.50 puts at $0.45 yesterday they will still make a nice 11% return. Do note that this OCC memo is preliminary and the final memo and settlement have not yet occurred. I will update this blog post once final settlement on the options has occurred.

Comparison to Ocean Rig (ORIG) bankruptcy emergence options adjustment

In September 2017 Ocean Rig UDW (ORIG) emerged from bankruptcy with old shareholders getting a tiny fraction of new shares. In that instance, the old options were cash-settled. See the preliminary OCC notice (dated 9/21/2017) and the final OCC notice (dated 9/27/2017).

From the preliminary OCC notice:

Ocean Rig UDW Inc. (ORIG) has announced a 1-for-9200 reverse stock split/Scheme of Arrangement. As a result of the reverse stock split/Scheme of Arrangement, each ORIG Common Share will be converted into the right to receive approximately 0.0001087 (New) Ocean Rig UDW Inc. Common Shares. The reverse stock split will become effective before the market open on September 22, 2017. Cash will be paid in lieu of fractional ORIG shares

The cash in lieu amount was then determined ( and announced in the final OCC memo:

Adjusted Ocean Rig UDW Inc. options were adjusted on September 22, 2017 (See OCC Information Memo #41867). The new deliverable became cash in lieu of approximately 0.01087 fractional ORIG Shares. The settlement of the ORIG1 options exercise/assignment activity was subject to delayed settlement.

OCC has been informed that a price of $23.50 per whole ORIG share will be used to determine the cash in lieu amount at a rate of 0.01087.

Accordingly, the cash in lieu amount is:
0.01087 x $23.50 = $0.26 per ORIG1 Contract

Now that the exact cash in lieu amount has been determined, OCC will require Put exercisers and Call assignees, during the period of September 22, 2017 through September 27, 2017, to deliver the appropriate cash amount

I was told by an experienced trader that I trust that how the OCC determines settlement in these cases of corporate events is determined by the company — so when a similar situation happens in the future both the cash in lieu of settlement and the rounding of shares (up or down) are both possible.

For the record: some final charts of Seadrill during the bankruptcy:


And here is a final chart of Seadrill affiliate North Atlantic Drilling (NADLQ), whose shareholders were completely wiped out in the bankruptcy:

I did not short NADLQ because of the high borrow rate and low price and uncertainty about when the stock would be deleted.

And here is the Ocean Rig UDW (ORIG) chart showing the time during which it emerged from bankruptcy — it appears that the two daily candlesticks in the $700 range are data errors — the stock closed at $0.075 on the last day of trading prior to emergence from bankruptcy and the 9200 for 1 reverse split. It opened around $40 the next day (it actually opened above $100 but those trades were busted)

Here are charts showing the actual prices (with no apparent data errors):

Disclaimer. I am short a tiny position of SDRL July 20th 2018 $0.50 calls. No position in any other stock mentioned and I have no relationship with anyone mentioned in this post. This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.

Never ever trust online reviews of mattresses or trading services

I just read this excellent story on Casper and the world of online mattress review websites and that made me of course think of stock trading services and what happens if you try to find reviews of them. Unlike with mattresses, where a $50 affiliate commission is quite common on sales, with stock trading services commissions of 25% to 33% are common and they can go much, much higher. Also, with mattresses, even if you end up not particularly happy (as I am not that happy with my Helix Sleep mattress) at least you end up with a functional, new mattress. If you sign up for many trading services you will end up trying to learn to trade from somebody who fakes their own trades or lied about their own trading record. Even if you find a trading service that has a good track record and the person running it knows how to trade successfully, the odds still favor you losing money — because trading successfully is very hard.

Did you read the article on Casper and Sleepopolis at Fast Company yet? If not, do so now. The problem with the mattress review world (and I think this is a general problem for any product where online reviews can make or break them) is that the incentive for mattress companies is to do whatever is necessary to get to the top of rankings, no matter how. They can do that by incentivizing the reviewer with higher affiliate payouts or by giving the reviewer extra payments, such as a consulting agreement or some other payment scheme. The reviewer is incentivized to direct more people to the company giving him or her the highest payouts. The result is that the reviews for mattresses become completely untrustworthy — some review sites might be slightly biased, others might be totally biased, but it is hard to tell the difference. Of course the solution to this is to get a subscription to Consumer Reports which doesn’t have these conflicts of interest (I’m a happy subscriber and have been for a decade). Here are their mattress recommendations.

Unfortunately, Consumer Reports does not rate trading services or Twitter traders. Tim Sykes started for the purpose of getting traders’ reviews of trading services but really that site never took off and never got much beyond the penny stock niche. And of course user reviews can be gamed, most obviously on Even without monetary payments, a service provider can urge satisfied users to write reviews and thus increase their rating. Still, there is useful information in user reviews sites like Investimonials (or Yelp) — the user just needs to expect a positive bias and seek out both positive and negative reviews and read them in detail. If there are no negative reviews then that is a red flag — even the best businesses leave some customers unhappy.

And of course, this is just talking about half the problem — service providers offering reviewers inducements for positive reviews. They can also threaten libel lawsuits to eliminate negative reviews. Or they can pay the review website to remove negative reviews. This is quite possibly a worse problem and will cause the most negative reviews to tend to disappear from the internet. It is impossible to know how big of a problem this is.

Of course, one way to get around the problem of fake or gamed user reviews and the threat of lawsuits is to have a convicted felon with a huge judgment hanging over his head that he can never hope to pay write trading website reviews. But such a site (which exists, but I won’t link to it for reasons I explain below) can still suffer from the tendency to give positive reviews to services that then advertise with it. And the specific website I’m thinking of, while doing a pretty good job of identifying many frauds, seems to think that some legitimate (in my eyes) services are complete frauds. For that reason I won’t link to or even name Emmett’s website.

Why don’t I write reviews of various trading services? I learned a bunch from Tim Sykes and a couple other trading services and I obviously wouldn’t be able to be bias free. That is why I have not reviewed trading services that I have tried; the only times I have written about trading services is when I recommended them (at some point), or had some other reason to write about them (such as when a trading service was owned by stock promoters).

What can you, an aspiring trader, do? First, never trust claims of good performance. Anybody can claim that they turned $3,000 into $10 million. Ask to see some sort of real proof. Even more, look at a person’s trades and verify that they were possible and weren’t in illiquid stocks. No matter how positive your initial impression of a trading service, search out negative opinions (luckily, there are plenty of those on Twitter about everyone) and weigh those against the positive opinions you see. There are plenty of invalid criticisms as well as valid criticisms out there.

Unfortunately, there are so many people looking to get rich through trading that you likely will have no luck if you ask for account statements or tax returns to prove a guru’s performance (but I have some). Even after looking at a number of trades, it can be hard to tell if someone is a good trader — particularly over a short period of time a trader can be successful just because of the niche they are in. In a crazy bull market most swing traders will look great. Caveat emptor and do your own research. Most importantly, never blindly follow another trader — no matter what guru you follow, even if he or she is talented, you are likely to lose money just due to slippage.

Unfortunately, the only way to decide with high confidence if a trading service is worthwhile is to subscribe to it for months and assiduously track the trades of the guru to confirm that they are realistic and that they are consistently profitable. I even subscribed to Anthony Davian’s trading service for two months before concluding that he likely knew less than I did. In addition to that, you need to analyze their trading strategy to determine that it makes sense and that you could conceivably implement it yourself.


Disclaimer: I have a long and deep business relationship with Tim Sykes; see my full disclosure. I own a Helix Sleep mattress and subscribe to Consumer Reports. I have left a number of reviews on Investimonials but haven’t written any in years. No position in any stock mentioned and I have no relationship with anyone else mentioned in this post. This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.


Drone Guarder $DRNG now pumped for two weeks via landing page

Starting on May 30th, Drone Guarder (DRNG) started trading with good volume. It is being promoted via emails and a landing page at There are 30 million unrestricted shares that can potentially be dumped into this stock promotion while 102 million shares are restricted (data from This is starting to look pretty interesting as a potential short although the stock looks tightly controlled / manipulated.

Under the company’s previous ticker VOPA it was first promoted back in November 2016.

As of the company’s most recent 10-Q, filed on June 8, 2017, the company reported total assets of $40,111 and no revenues for the most recent quarter.

Disclosed budget: $300,000
Promoter:  Wall Street Blaze
Paying party: Optimal Access Pte LTD
Shares outstanding: 26,805,270
Previous closing price: $1.19
Market capitalization: $158 million

Disclaimer (emphasis added by me):

Disclaimer: DO NOT BASE ANY INVESTMENT DECISIONS UPON ANY MATERIAL FOUND IN THIS REPORT. This publication is distributed free of charge and does not purport to provide an analysis of a company’s financial position. The information contained herein has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as a complete source of information on any particular company, including Drone Guarder (DRNG). DRNG’s financial position and all other information regarding DRNG should be verified with the company. An individual should not invest in the securities of DRNG based solely on information contained in this advertisement. Information about many publicly traded companies, including DRNG and other investor resources can be found at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website: Investing in securities is highly speculative and carries significant risk. It is recommended that any investment in any security should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing all publicly available information, including the statements of the company. This mailing piece is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy securities, nor should it be construed as the provision of any investment related advice or services tailored to any particular individual’s financial situation or investment objective(s). Wall Street Blaze is a publisher of general and regular circulations offering impersonalized investment-related research to readers and/or prospective readers and is not an investment advisor or broker/dealer registered with either the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or with any state securities regulatory authorities. Wall Street Blaze is neither licensed nor qualified to provide financial advice. As such, it relies upon the “publisher’s exclusion” as provided under Section 202(a)(11) of the Investment Advisors Act of 1940 and corresponding state securities laws. Investing in companies like DRNG carries a high degree of risk. Do not invest in this company unless you can afford to possibly lose your entire investment. The “Company” featured herein appears as paid advertising, paid by a third party (Optimal Access Pte LTD) to provide public awareness for DRNG. The publisher, Wall Street Blaze, understands that in an effort to enhance public awareness of DRNG and its securities through the distribution of this mail and online advertisement, Optimal Access Pte LTD paid all of the costs associated with creating and distribution of this advertisement. The publisher was paid the sum of five thousand dollars for its contributions. The marketing vendors will be managing a total budget of three hundred thousand dollars, provided by Optimal Access Pte LTD for all online advertising and marketing efforts and will retain any amounts over and above the cost of production, copywriting services, mailing and other distribution expenses, as a fee for its services. If successful, the advertisement will increase investor and market awareness, which may result in increased numbers of shareholders owning and trading the common stock of DRNG, increase trading volumes, and possibly increased share price of the common stock of DRNG. The publisher has not undertaken to determine if Optimal Access Pte LTD is, or intends to be, directly or indirectly, a shareholder of DRNG. This publication is based exclusively on information generally available to the public and does not contain any material, non-public information. The information on which it is based is believed to be reliable; nevertheless, the publisher cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information. The information contained herein contain forward-looking information within the meaning of section 27a of the Securities Act and section 21e of the Securities Exchange Act including statements regarding expected growth of The Company. In accordance with the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, the publisher notes that statements contained herein that look forward in time, which include everything other than historical information, involve risks and uncertainties that may affect the Company’s actual results of operations. Factors that could cause actual results to differ include, but are not limited to, the size and growth of the market for the company’s products and services, the company’s ability to fund its capital requirements in the near term and long term, pricing pressures and other risks detailed in the company’s filed reports with SEC. To the fullest extent of the law, we will not be liable to any person or entity for the quality, accuracy, completeness, reliability, or timeliness of the information provided herein, or for any direct, indirect, consequential, incidental special or punitive damages that may arise out of the use of information we provide to any person or entity (including, but not limited to, lost profits, loss of opportunities, trading losses, and damages that may result from any inaccuracy or incompleteness of this information.

Copy of pump landing page (PDF)

Disclaimer. I have no position in any stock mentioned above. I have no relationship with any parties mentioned above. This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.

An Introduction to shelf registrations

Probably the most common kind of way of issuing and registering new stocks is a shelf registration. This is filed on SEC Form S-3 (F-3 if the issuer is a foreign company). These can be used with multiple types of offerings, including most commonly PIPEs, Private Investments in Public Equities, where the shares have been sold to an investor and the shares are now being registered so that investor can sell those shares; ATMs or At the Market Offerings (PDF), where a company sells shares into the open market from time to time; and registration of shares underlying warrants or convertible bonds.

Shelf Takedowns by Greenberg Traurig (PDF)
FAQs about Shelf Offerings by Morrison Foerster (PDF)

Besides the actual shelf registration statement, the company has to file a prospectus supplement within two days of whichever comes first, the offering being priced or the shelf registration being used. Also, just because a shelf registration is filed does not mean it can be used immediately — the registration needs to be declared effective after the SEC reviews the registration. This typically takes two to three weeks from when the registration statement is filed. When a shelf registration (or another registration statement) has become effective a form EFFECT will be posted. For example, here is a shelf registration, prospectus, and EFFECT for Diana Containerships (DCIX):


Disclaimer. No position in any stocks mentioned and I have no relationship with anyone mentioned in this post. This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.

Some good posts on offerings and fundamental research

These come from Auspex Research on Twitter. Follow him. He has no blog but he does occasionally post longer thoughts on Twitlonger.

A Gevo Inspired Twitlonger (10 June 2016)
When A+B = D (17 November 2016)
Realtime Analysis using Twitlonger (22 November 2016).

Disclaimer. No position in any stocks mentioned and I have no business relationship with Auspex (I don’t even know his real name). This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.

Catalysts in the trading of bankrupt companies and why Republic Airways $RJETQ is going to zero

The rule of thumb in bankruptcy is that 90% of the time shareholders get completely wiped out. Maybe 8% of the time shareholders get a tiny bit of equity in the new (post-bankruptcy) company or out of the money warrants to buy that equity. Only 2% of the time or less do shareholders get a large recovery. Of course, that 2% of the time is what gives hope to shareholders in the 98% of bankruptcies. General Growth Properties (GGP) is a good example from the 2008 financial crisis and American Airlines (AAMRQ at the time) is a more recent example from 2014. A current company in bankruptcy where it is possible that shareholders may get a meaningful return is Peabody Energy (BTUUQ); the current price values the equity at $250 million although the company still says that shareholders will be wiped out. Peabody has yet to file a bankruptcy plan; it has been granted an extension by the court until December 14th. [The above paragraph has been edited to specify that a meaningful return for equity holders is possible; a prior version said it was probable.]

There are a few key events in a bankruptcy proceeding that should drastically affect the stock. First, the bankruptcy filing, which almost always crushes the stock although in cases where that was expected the drop may be 30% rather than 80%. The next event is the formation of an equity committee (or rejection by the judge of an equity committee): this indicates a meaningful probability of shareholders receiving something and not getting completely wiped out. Next comes the filing of the bankruptcy plan, which lays out how much different classes of creditors and equity holders will get. For various reasons the bankruptcy plan is often changed or amended multiple times. Next comes the vote on the bankruptcy plan and approval by the judge: if the plan is approved then the bankruptcy will become ‘effective’ shortly thereafter. The effective date is usually not known more than a few days in advance and it should come a couple weeks after the plan is approved. On the effective date the bankruptcy is closed, old shares are wiped out, and new equity is distributed to creditors.

It is important to note that there are other (less common) ways that a bankruptcy can end: the old equity can remain after essentially all the assets have been sold with the proceeds going to the creditors (this is what happened recently with Saratoga Resources (SARA), and in this case the equity essentially owns a shell company).

Shareholders of a bankrupt company can keep the stock price at an unrealistic level even when they are likely to get wiped out. However, the events mentioned above tend to be catalysts for sending the stock price towards its fair value.

Here is a chart of Cosi (COSIQ); the big down day is when the company declared bankruptcy.


Next is the chart of C&J Energy (CJESQ) — November 4th in premarket the bankruptcy plan was revised to give shareholders 2/3 fewer warrants in the new equity.

The evening of November 4th the judge denied the request for formation of an official equity committee.



Here is the chart of Republic Airways (RJETQ): the bankruptcy plan was filed after-hours on 11/16/2016. The plan calls for shareholders to be completely wiped out and get nothing.


Next is the chart of Hercules Offshore (HEROQ) with the big drop on November 1st coming after the judge approved the bankruptcy plan:

The final even in bankruptcy is the effective date. As I stated above this is not known far in advance — it depends on if there are any objects or delays after the plan is confirmed. Below is the chart of Arch Coal (ACIIQ; the post-bankruptcy stock trades as ARCH). On September 30th the company filed an 8-K stating that the effectiveness date was anticipated as being October 5th. The stock promptly dropped bigly.


Republic Airways (RJETQ) and understanding a bankruptcy plan

An official equity committee was never approved by the judge because unsecured creditors were set to lose over 50% so the likelihood of equity holders getting any recovery was very low. The evening of November 16th a bankruptcy plan was finally filed. You can see the bankruptcy court docket for free. To find free bankruptcy court dockets, just Google “[company name] bankruptcy docket”. The various corporate bankruptcy trustees all make these available. In the case of Republic Airways, docket 1089 is the bankruptcy plan and docket 1090 is the plan disclosure statement.

The most important part of the bankruptcy plan is the listing of claimant classes and what they will receive at the confirmation of the plan. Here is that list for Republic:


Interests in RAH include the stock of Republic; but don’t take my word for that: the first part of the plan has definitions of all the relevant terms.

From page 9:

“Interest” means any equity security within the meaning of section 101(16) of the Bankruptcy Code including, without limitation, all issued, unissued, authorized or outstanding shares of stock or other equity interests (including common and preferred), together with any warrants, options, convertible securities, liquidating preferred securities or contractual rights to 16-10429-shl Doc 1189 Filed 11/16/16 Entered 11/16/16 18:56:36 Main Document Pg 14 of 68 10 purchase or acquire any such equity interests at any time and all rights arising with respect thereto.

From page 13:

“RAH” means Republic Airways Holdings Inc., a Debtor in these Chapter 11 Cases.

Page 25 has the details of how interests in RAH will be treated (emphasis mine):

i. Interests in RAH (Class 5) i. Impairment and Voting. Class 5 is impaired under the Plan. Holders of Interests in RAH are deemed to reject the Plan under section 1126(g) of the Bankruptcy Code and are not entitled to vote on the Plan.

ii. Treatment. Upon the Effective Date, all existing Interests in RAH shall be deemed cancelled and extinguished and the holders of such Interests shall not receive or retain any property on account of such Interests under the Plan.

If that isn’t clear enough, look at page 92 of the disclosure statement (emphasis mine):

2. Consequences to Holders of Existing Interests in RAH Holders of interests in RAH, which are being cancelled under the Plan, will be entitled to claim a worthless stock deduction (assuming that the taxable year that includes the Effective Date of the Plan is the same taxable year in which such stock first became worthless and only if such holder had not previously claimed a worthless stock deduction with respect to any Interest  in RAH) in an amount equal to the holder’s adjusted basis in the Interest. If the holder held its Interest in RAH as a capital asset, the loss will be treated as a capital loss.

Republic stock gapped down after that bankruptcy plan was filed but thankfully bounced enough for me to short over $0.50. Considering that the company stated in a press release then that it expects to emerge from bankruptcy in the first quarter of 2017 and that the borrow rate on RJETQ at Interactive Brokers is under 4% APR (effectively 12% because that is calculated on short collateral), I continue to believe that RJETQ is a good short. I expect the stock to slowly fade over the coming two months and drop under $0.10 once the plan is confirmed.

Disclaimer. I am short RJETQ and may add to or cover my short at any time. I have traded all the other stocks mentioned but currently have no positions in them. This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.

Get SMART: Customizing Interactive Brokers’ smart routing

Interactive Brokers has been one of my main brokers since 2007. Yet I didn’t realize until today that you can customize the smart routing of orders. I was trying to figure out how to set a hotkey to set a market/ECN destination (route) and stumbled across the smart routing configuration which is even better than what I was looking for. Read IB’s description of how it works.

The simple explanation is that you can set the smart router to prioritize execution (in various ways) or prioritize ECN rebates. This only affects orders where you are adding liquidity (when you are taking liquidity the smart routing always prioritizes execution). For someone who trades a lot of low-priced stocks, ECN fees and IB’s per share commissions add up fast. By setting my smart routing to always go to the highest rebate venue I will dramatically lower my trading fees on low-priced stocks. Simply put, I should have looked into this long ago and saved thousands of dollars in commissions.

For the record, for adding liquidity on Nasdaq stocks under $1, the best route is NSX, which offers a rebate of 0.25% of the trade value.

Here is a screenshot of how I have my smart routing configured now:


Disclaimer: No position in any stock stock mentioned above. I have no relationship with any parties mentioned above except that Interactive Brokers is one of my brokers. This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.

Great new technologies, horrid investments: Does this describe Editas $EDIT?

One thing growth investors and stock promoters love is a brand new industry that is growing quickly and revolutionizing our lives. The problem is most of the time much of the companies end up losing money and even going bankrupt even as the new industry blossoms because of fierce competition. This happened with railroad companies in Britain in the mid 1800s, electronics companies in the US in the 1960s, computer companies in the 1980s, internet companies during the tech bubble in 1999, and has happened over the last few years in LEDs and solar panels. In most of these cases most companies did poorly and there were only a few companies that came to dominate the industry or if there were no good barriers to entry or many competing technologies, cutthroat competition has continued. Most of these stories have been told before and better than I could tell. So I will concentrate on the LED industry which is one I know well and has not been well followed by most people.

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) have been around for decades but only in the last decade have there been improvements in the technology such that they could be used in normal lighting situations rather than just as indicator lights. The first LED light bulb I bought back in 2008 produced 200 lumens of bluish-white light (~7000k). For comparison, 800 lumens is what a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb produces. That bulb was made by Lighting Science Group Corp (LSCG) and cost about $50. The most recent LED bulbs I bought (made by GE and sold at Home Depot) cost $3.13 each and produce 760 lumens or warm white light (2700k).

I just finished converting my house entirely to LEDs. The light quality is as good as incandescent bulbs, they use much less electricity, and they stay cool (which means less chance of fires and lower air conditioner usage). They also on average last far longer. The problem for manufacturers of LEDs is that no manufacturers have technology that is vastly superior to the others or patents on essential technologies. So while LEDs are high-tech, producing them is a brutal business. There are a handful of large manufacturers of the actual LEDs (e.g., Seoul Semiconductor, Epistar, Cree, Philips, Osram, and others) while there are thousands of companies putting those LEDs together with the electronics to drive them in bulbs. The large producers make a normal profit but most of the producers of LED bulbs make little.

Here is a chart of CREE, one of the ‘winners’:


Cree has done well but the company’s stock is where it was essentially a decade ago.

Here is the chart of one of the losers, Lighting Science Group (LSCG):


Lighting Science of course was my most profitable short ever back in 2008. Even though the company did go on to successfully market its products, they have not been profitable because of lower-cost competition.


LED lights are pretty awesome and within a decade 90% of new fixtures will use them. In two decades’ time LEDs will have 99%+ market share in general lighting for home and industry. Besides their aforementioned advantages, their unique properties also have made it possible for many of the poorest in the world to use a small solar cell and battery to power LED lights and charge phones, reducing the use of kerosene lamps and resulting in cleaner air and better health.

Why bring this up now? I am really excited about CRISPR-Cas9 and have publicly said that I would love to invest in any company in that space. Editas (EDIT) just filed an S-1 prospectus to go public. Anyone who is in awe of the possibilities of this gene editing technique including myself would do well to consider the similarities to past highly-hyped new industries. That is not even considering the legal morass that CRISPR is in right now with multiple groups having filed competing patents.


Disclaimer: No positions in any stocks mentioned. I have no relationship with any other parties mentioned above. This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.


(By the way, if you are looking to get a large number of non-standard LED lights (such as T-8 lights), I recommend Chong Ming LED — I found them through Alibaba and purchased 180 T-8 tube lights for an LED retrofit at the daycare run by my church. I also highly recommend Hyperikon, which has a large selection of bulbs available on Amazon.)


How to be dead wrong about Kalobios Pharmaceuticals $KBIO

Needless to say, my previous post on KaloBios Pharmaceuticals was dead wrong. Martin Shkreli and friends bought up the majority of the company over the past couple days (at under $2 per share on average) and their SEC Form 4s after the close yesterday caused a massive short squeeze that sent the stock up to $24 in premarket today. The one thing I did not account for was the possibility that someone would see value in the company’s drugs and rescue the company. That is essentially what Shkreli is doing, as he explained to Fierce Biotech. In the future I will avoid any such overnight shorts on companies with substantial intellectual property even if I think it has little value, particularly if the market cap of the stock is low. Even a small risk of a catastrophic loss on a trade is too much.

I apologize for completely failing in my analysis. Luckily I had set up an alert for SEC filings on KBIO so I was able to cover my short for a small loss (around $4,000 net) at $2.0833. Hopefully my readers also avoided catastrophic losses. If you look at my trades on you will see a large loss at IB but a slightly smaller large gain at CenterPoint Securities. It is quicker for me to trade at CenterPoint so I just bought there at first to get flat.

Below is a screenshot of my posts in TimAlerts chat mentioning my cover and the news:


See all my posts here.

Disclaimer: I have no position in KBIO but I will likely trade it after posting this article. I have a close business relationship with Tim Sykes (see Terms of Use for details). I have no relationship with any other parties mentioned above. This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.