Small Isotope Stock Aims to Take on Giants
By Ryan Allway · Monday, February 4th, 2013
Medical isotopes are a little-known, but important sector of the healthcare industry. Comprised of radioactive forms of many of the elements seen on the periodic table, they are used therapeutically in nuclear medicine and are also instrumental in diagnosing everything from cardiac patients to hyperthyroidism. But, most investors in the space only know larger players in the industry like Nordion Inc. (NYSE: NDZ) and Covidien plc (NYSE: COV).
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One tightly held micro cap company that’s relatively unknown by institutions has quietly spent the last few years developing an important presence within the industry. Now, this company is ready to begin commercializing its hard work through collaborations with top nuclear medicine groups and grow its solid intellectual property portfolio.
Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation (OTCBB: ADMD) is a $16.6 million company, where management owns over half the outstanding shares and institutions remain oblivious to much of the company’s potential. In this article, we’ll take a look at a couple reasons why investors may want to take a closer look at this company sooner rather than later.
Rising Demand Meets Potential Supply
The global market for medical isotopes is over $1 billion and growing 25% annually, while the market for its specific niche is growing at a 20% annual clip. In the United States, approximately 90% of this demand is filled from foreign companies, with the remaining 10% coming from companies specializing in the production of a single type of isotope. Perhaps even more troublingly, there appears to be a growing gap in the supply chain for medical isotopes that needs to be addressed. Nordion lost a key supply contract in Russia for molybdenum-99, while the primary source for most U.S. moly-99 medical isotopes is an aging National Research Universal reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, Canada.
To help meet this demand, Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation purchased the first Linear Accelerator (LINAC) in North America, designed specifically to produce positron emission tomography (PET) isotopes that can be shipped to customers worldwide at industry-leading costs and margins. The same system can also be modified to produce other types of isotopes that are in high demand. The company also hopes to commercialize a compact moly-99 production method that involves a meter-long contraption containing heavy water (deuterium oxide) and uranium. By shooting a beam of high-energy electronics at the container, the contraction will produce photons that rip apart deuterium, releasing neutrons that cause uranium to fission and yielding moly-99 as a byproduct.
Last quarter, the company reported revenues that grew 12% to $62,250 due primarily to an increase in F-18 sales following the signing of a new hospital as a customer. But, the firm’s real potential may come into play if and when a potential contract from Russia comes in the door and technologies like the one mentioned above come into production. The company hopes to secure an Oxygen-18 contract from Russia that could set the stage for wide scale production of numerous isotopes to meet market demand, while its innovative manufacturing techniques and technologies give it a significant advantage over the competition.
Solid Intellectual Property and R&D Pipeline
Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation’s strongest asset is its intellectual property portfolio, which has been reportedly vetted by billion dollar companies. These assets represent just $400,000 on its balance sheet, but they have attracted interest from billion dollar corporations, according to a recent phone interview with management. Meanwhile, the firm’s potential R&D pipeline includes a variety of projects, including a new type of injectable radiogel for use in high-dose radiation therapy when treating certain types of cancers.
The addition of a clinical-stage therapy product to its R&D pipeline has attracted increased interest on the part of potential investors and existing shareholders. After licensing the technology from Battelle early last year, the company hopes to complete animal studies and testing to ultimately pave the way towards a 510(k) approval this year. If successful, the therapy could offer the same therapeutic effects as externally administered radiation treatments, but with a focus on only cancer tumors instead of harmful systemic exposure.
When it comes to patents, the company’s May 2010 license agreement with the University of Missouri provides exclusive rights to the aforementioned process of creating short-lived moly-99 and technetium-99 isotopes using electron beam accelerators. And its August 2010 license agreement with Battelle Memorial Institute provides for the aforementioned Brachytherapy seeds with fast-dissolving matrix for optimized delivery of radionuclides. Combined, these patents could generate significant sales, if the technologies are commercialized.
Investment Opportunity to Consider
Advanced Medical Isotopes Corporation (OTCBB: ADMD) represents an attractive potential investment opportunity for a number of reasons, including the favorable market dynamics and solid up-and-coming R&D pipeline backed by strong intellectual property. Moreover, management has a lot of skin in the game, owning more than half of the outstanding equity, providing a strong vote of confidence in the stock moving forward.