Targeted Strategies for Today's Evolving Markets

MissionIR Blog

SEC to Take Second Look at Winklevoss ETF Application

After denying an application on March 10, 2017, by the Bats BZW Exchange to list and trade shares of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has agreed to take a second look, according to an order published on its website (http://dtn.fm/jUm5B). This will undoubtedly cheer up Cameron and Tyler, the Winklevoss twins, who, according to the New York Times’ Deal Book, introduced their Winkdex Bitcoin ETF proposal back in February 2014 (http://dtn.fm/MkTK5). The Winklevoss brothers are ardent, and wealthy, advocates of the crypto-currency. The SEC order granting the petition to review marks a crucial point in the development of the digital currency. It is unlikely that Bitcoin will ever gain widespread acceptance without the blessing of U.S. regulators.

Bitcoin has tickled the public’s curiosity, particularly after the secret shenanigans of Dread Pirate Roberts became public. No doubt inspired by the ruthlessness and ingenuity of the fictional hero or heroes in The Princess Bride, Ross William Ulbricht assumed the moniker for his dealings on the Dark Web. Displaying once again a romantic streak, Ulbricht set up an online bazaar for illegal substances, which he named Silk Road, and thereon peddled pure Oxycodone HCL powder in 0.25 gram packets for 0.53 Bitcoins, generic XANAX 1mg pills in 400-pack sizes for 1.52 Bitcoins, Testosterone Cypionate 10 x 250mg/ml servings for 0.69 Bitcoins and a variety of other illicit titillations. Merchandise on Ulbricht’s Silk Road, named after the ancient trade route that connected China to the West, had price tags denominated in the digital currency, no doubt because, like cash, both buyers and seller can remain anonymous.

The ability to protect the identities of parties to a transaction is, perhaps, the feature of Bitcoin that has driven its use so far. However, Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies offer a much more important benefit, one that would certainly gain the attention of retailers. Typically, merchants are burdened with high transaction costs when they accept payment through debit and credit cards. Bank charges can run as high as 3 percent of transaction value. These costs are, to some extent, justified, since banks support and maintain the payments infrastructure and stand, between parties, as a trusted third party. But Bitcoin denominated transactions would avoid that transaction ‘tax’, because the Bitcoin network dispenses with any intermediary.

Instead of an intermediate trusted third party that guarantees the authenticity of a transaction, the Bitcoin system employs cryptography. Bitcoins are accessed and spent by using a ‘private key’, which performs the same role a physical key does in securing a store of valuables. Consequently, someone who gains access to private keys can spend the Bitcoins in an account.

In reporting on the SEC’s denial to have the Winklevoss ETF listed on the BZW, Deal Book pointed to yet another useful function of Bitcoin – as an investment vehicle or asset (http://dtn.fm/7pdaI). For reasons not yet determined, Bitcoin creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, when he launched the digital currency in 2009, set a limit of 21 million to the number of Bitcoins that could be created or ‘mined’. Now, about 16 million Bitcoins are thought to be in circulation (http://dtn.fm/1aZiZ) and, just like any other commodity, the value of Bitcoins will fluctuate, particularly as there is a limit set to supply.

The SEC in its disapproving order (http://dtn.fm/C4t6G) set out the reasons for its denial, writing:

‘…the Commission believes that the significant markets for Bitcoin are unregulated. Therefore, as the (BZW) Exchange has not entered into, and would currently be unable to enter into, the type of surveillance-sharing agreement that has been in place with respect to all previously approved commodity-trust ETPs—agreements that help address concerns about the potential for fraudulent or manipulative acts and practices in this market—the Commission does not find the proposed rule change to be consistent with the Exchange Act.’

In filing for review, the Winklevoss duo appears to have developed a Plan B. We look forward to seeing what that is.

Posted in Small Cap News | Leave a comment

India Globalization Capital, Inc. (NYSE: IGC) is Blazing a Trail with its Cannabis Plus Therapies

Slowly but surely cannabis is losing the stigma that has plagued it for close to one hundred years. Even some who frown on its use for recreational purposes are willing to consider that there may be therapeutic benefits in extracts of the cannabis sativa plant and so, increasingly, cannabinoids are being investigated to determine their effectiveness to treat a variety of debilitating medical conditions. Cannabinoid pharma is emerging as an entirely new industry segment in pharmaceuticals, and, as it does so, one innovative research company is blazing a trail in this new market by creating a niche of its own. India Globalization Capital, Inc. (NYSE MKT: IGC) has created its own space in pharmaceuticals. The Bethesda, Maryland-based company is a first mover in “combination therapies” that merge cannabinoids with existing drugs to provide more effective remedies.

IGC is not only a first mover in combination therapies; the company is also a fast mover. To date, IGC has dispatched six provisional patent filings to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the indications of pain, medical refractory epilepsy, seizures, cachexia and eating disorders. Together, the remedies for these conditions present huge market opportunity, and IGC’s current low valuation versus comparable cannabis companies represents an important alert for all investors in this burgeoning industry.

IGC-501 is being developed to combat pain. The pain market represents a significant component of the health care system, with The Journal of Pain reporting in September 2012 that the annual estimated national cost of pain ranges from $560 billion to $635 billion, a figure that exceeds the cost of treating all other priority health conditions. Also, a NetworkNewsWire report on data released by Transparency Market Research estimates the global pain management therapeutics market will have a 3.7 percent CAGR through 2024, to reach $83.0 billion (http://dtn.fm/cMh1z).

Chronic pain takes such an exacting toll on the nation’s health that the American Pain Society has recommended pain be characterized as a fifth ‘vital sign’, along with body temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Pain treatment can save lives. Terminal illnesses are often accompanied by levels of pain so intense and difficult to treat that death seems preferable. In addition, arthritis has been particularly problematic for women, according to the Arthritis Foundation, which reports that since 1999 there has been a 22 percent increase in the number of women who attribute their disability to arthritis.

As awareness of the effects of chronic pain has grown, increasingly powerful drugs such as morphine, codeine, and hydrocodone are being prescribed. However, these opioids are treacherously addictive and their use is often subverted from pain relief, making their way into recreational use. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 29,000 Americans die every year from opioid-related overdoses. This alarming statistic shows the pressing need for less addictive analgesics like IGC-501.

IGC-503 tackles refractory epilepsy, which affects about 50 million in the U.S. alone. Refractory epilepsy refers to cases of epilepsy that are unresponsive to current medications. Also in the pipeline is IGC-504, intended for those who suffer from cachexia, known as wasting syndrome. About 1.3 million in the U.S. experience cachexia associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDS and other devastating maladies. In addition, there is IGC-506, designed to combat eating disorders, which are said to affect about 30 million Americans (http://dtn.fm/2j6Pq). Two other patents, IGC-502 and IGC-505, are designed to treat epileptic seizures in dogs and cats.

On the release of its financial results for the third-quarter ended December 31, 2016, CEO Ram Mukunda stated, “In 2017, our goal is to accelerate the development of our cannabis-based therapy portfolio to support key indications such as pain, seizures, cachexia, PTSD, and depression. In tandem, we expect to initiate pre-clinical trials on IGC-501-pain, IGC-502-seizures and IGC-504-cachexia.”

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.IGCinc.us

Posted in India Globalization Capital, Inc. IGC | Leave a comment

ProBility Media Corp. (PBYA) Changing Dreams to Reality

Two recent Wall Street Journal articles reveal that labor pressures are mounting in the construction industry as hiring accelerates across the U.S. economy. The U.S. Labor Department recently reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 211,000 in April, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.4%, the lowest level in nearly a decade. Contractors across the country report significant shortages of electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and other skilled and semi-skilled laborers as the volume of building projects increases.

The shortage of skilled labor in many markets has forced contractors to boost pay scales, which has been a contributing factor to new home price increases over the past two years. Construction labor costs are currently rising an average of 4% to 5% annually, outpacing inflation, according to Anirban Basu, chief economist of the Associated Builders and Contractors. “The situation is going to get worse,” he said (http://dtn.fm/bm4Uu). It’s estimated that the construction industry presently needs 500,000 more skilled and semi-skilled workers, while another 600,000+ additional workers would be needed should the $1 trillion infrastructure bill proposed by the current administration be passed.

The skilled labor supply shortage isn’t expected to ease soon, as many top construction workers went to work for energy companies during the last building downturn and are now tending to oil rigs and building drilling platforms. ProBility Media Corp. (OTCQB: PBYA) is playing a major role in meeting this fast growing demand for job training and continuing education in the current economy. ProBility is one of the leading online providers of career advancement and training content for tradesmen and technical experts. By building the first full-service training and career advancement brand in the technical fields, the company is changing the landscape of the skilled trades training and certification industry.

ProBility is committed to preparing individuals with training, support, and continued education and teaches the skills needed to land and retain good jobs. The company, through strategic acquisitions, has also become one of the go-to sources for e-learning and training content, exam preparation, testing, certification, continuing education, and career advancement tools for both engineers and tradesmen. The broad collection of the company’s comprehensive educational programs is unparalleled, providing individuals and institutions with the skill sets needed to succeed. ProBility will continue to organically grow revenues from current operations while also strategically acquiring synergistic companies, thereby defragmenting and centralizing the skilled trades training marketplace.

The national unemployment rate for construction workers still remains in double digits, but economists note that figure includes both skilled and unskilled workers and finding a skilled worker not already working is increasingly rare. Finding highly specialized trade workers “is proving very, very difficult,” said James Bolger, director of operations at Colorado Concept Lighting Inc., a high-end electrical contractor that has sought for several months to double its staff of four electricians. “It’s almost like looking for a unicorn or jackalope…” (http://dtn.fm/PfZ0C).

ProBility is changing the search for skilled workers from fantasy to reality and is likely to reward investors along the way.

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.ProBilityMedia.com

Posted in ProBility Media Corp. PBYA | Leave a comment

New SEC Chair Expected to Focus on Easing Regulatory Burdens as Wall Street Ties Come Under Scrutiny

Veteran corporate lawyer Jay Clayton was sworn in as chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month after his nomination was approved by the Senate in a 61-37 vote, where several Democrats voted alongside Republican lawmakers to support his confirmation (http://dtn.fm/Bsx5n).

Widely expected to enact the current administration’s views on easing regulatory burdens and restricting some of the SEC’s regulatory powers in order to allow businesses more freedom, Clayton will have to work hard to disprove suspicions of being merely a Wall Street tool, given his close ties to various major corporations he represented over the years. This was, in fact, one of the main issues debated during his hearings in the Senate Banking Committee before the vote, with several Democrats on the panel voicing concern that his ties to Wall Street will create too many conflicts and lead to weaker oversight. “Over 20 years at a Wall Street law firm makes you think a certain way. And that way usually doesn’t involve focusing on families saving for retirement,” said Sherrod Brown, the Banking Committee’s senior Democrat, quoted by the Financial Times.

As a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, a leading law firm representing investment firms and large banks, Clayton has worked with several Wall Street giants over the years, including Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PC), Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB), Volkswagen (OTC: VLKAF), Alibaba Group Holding Company (NYSE: BABA), Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (NYSE: VRX) and more. His wife also worked at Goldman Sachs and was expected to step down after Clayton won the nomination.

According to SEC regulations, during the next couple of years Clayton will have to recuse himself from enforcement actions that involve former clients of his or any companies represented by his law firm. Critics contend that this situation may leave the remaining four commissioners of the SEC deadlocked, making it harder to decide on enforcement actions. However, according to the New York Times (http://dtn.fm/Tp8ZY), the recusal is unlikely to have a major effect on the SEC’s enforcement proceedings, since most of the matters that come before the commissioners are not at all controversial or divisive. Clayton’s predecessor, Mary Jo White, faced the exact same problem when she was sworn in, given her former activity as a corporate lawyer that included working with organizations such as JPMorgan Chase and UBS.

The main question, NY Times notes, is what Clayton’s approach to corporate penalties and enforcement will be and how aggressively the SEC will be allowed to pursue cases involving major Wall Street institutions under his rule. Clayton comes into the job with the promise that he will have zero tolerance for “bad actors in our capital markets,” but it should be noted that he is also in favor of lighter regulations and reducing corporate penalties on account of the strain these penalties put on shareholders. The same view is shared by many Republicans and is at the forefront of the party’s Financial Choice Act proposal in the House of Representatives, which aims at overturning a significant part of current financial legislation, including by limiting some of the SEC’s regulatory powers, with the purpose of promoting economic growth by granting more financial freedom to small businesses.

Instead of massive corporate penalties, Clayton believes greater deterrence would be possible by pursuing individuals involved in securities law violations. Although this does sound like a more effective policy in theory, it is unlikely to produce significant results because individuals are more likely to fight such charges and it would also be more difficult to assess responsibility and prove guilt in cases of corporate wrongdoing. Additionally, such an approach dubbed with a reduction in corporate penalties risks sending out the wrong message: that the SEC is all bark and no bite when it comes to taking action against major corporations and Wall Street over potential violations of securities law.

Posted in Small Cap News | Leave a comment

MissionIRNewsBreaks – India Globalization Capital, Inc. (NYSE: IGC) Adds Craig Cheifetz, M.D. to Advisory Team

India Globalization Capital, Inc. (NYSE MKT: IGC), a developer of cannabis-based therapies to treat a variety of life-altering conditions, this morning announced that Craig Cheifetz, M.D. has joined the company as an advisor to provide guidance on clinical trials, biotechnology, neuroscience, immunology and microbiology. “I welcome Dr. Cheifetz to the IGC advisory team and look forward to his contributions as we move forward in developing cannabis-based, combination therapies,” Ram Mukunda, CEO of IGC, stated in the news release. “We remain committed to accelerating our initiatives and building a robust portfolio of compounds to address large market conditions.” Cheifetz currently serves as Regional Dean at Virginia Commonwealth University Inova Fairfax Campus and Medical Director of Inova VIP 360, North Virginia’s premier concierge medicine program. He received his M.D. from the State University of New York College at Buffalo and trained in Internal Medicine at Georgetown University.

To view the full press release, visit http://dtn.fm/4kxKk

About IGC

India Globalization Capital is engaged in the development of cannabis-based therapies to treat pain, PTSD, seizures, cachexia, chronic and terminal neurological and oncological diagnoses, and other life altering conditions. In support of this mission, IGC has assembled a portfolio of patent filings for its phytocannabinoid-based treatments. The company is based in Bethesda, Maryland. For more information visit www.igcinc.us

Posted in India Globalization Capital, Inc. IGC, MissionIRNewsBreaks | Leave a comment

ChineseInvestors.com, Inc. (CIIX) Projected To Reach Revenue of $14.8 Million by FY2020 in Consilium Global Research Report

ChineseInvestors.com, Inc. (OTCQB: CIIX) is projected to reach revenues of $14.8 million by fiscal year 2020, according to a new research report by Consilium Global Research (http://dtn.fm/d849H). Per the report, the company did $930,000 in revenue for fiscal 2016 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 100% through 2020. The underlying market’s CAGR will expand at an 80% rate, the report said. Consilium sees CIIX as going through a huge transformation this year as it pursues a larger stake in the cannabis market.

Headquartered in San Gabriel, California, CIIX offers a range of consulting services and educational tools for Chinese investors, but, most recently, it has been pursuing a presence in the growing cannabidiol (CBD) market. In line with these efforts, the company opened the first online CBD store in the Chinese language in the free trade area of Shanghai. It seeks to serve some 1.4 billion people. The site will sell hemp-based food and beverages and hemp-derived CBD. It seeks to sell, where legal, to Chinese-speaking consumers worldwide through its online store, www.ChineseCBDoil.com.

Consilium, an independent research company, notes in its report that the CBD industry is anticipated to grow to $2.1 billion by 2020, representing a CAGR of 80%. The research firm goes on to forecast that the sales of $14.8 million by FY2020 predicted for CIIX is achievable due to the company management’s ability to execute. In fact, Consilium feels that its projections could easily prove conservative. It also estimated that CIIX could reach sales of $1.86 million in FY2017, $3.7 million in FY2018 and $7.4 million in FY2019. CIIX reported revenues of $930,000 in FY2016. For the nine months ended February 28, 2017, it reported revenues of $1.35 million.

Consilium believes that CIIX has a strong management team that has entrepreneurial skills and vision. It also finds that the firm is engrained with Chinese speakers in both the U.S. and abroad. Weaknesses are that it may have to raise more money to compete. It will also need to have sufficient and appropriate resources to stay abreast of evolving requirements for legality in the U.S. and abroad, per the research report.

With no impediments cited by the report in terms of brand leaders, laws, or standouts in this nascent market, Consilium sees opportunities for growth for CIIX. These include strategic international expansion, the large size of the Chinese market and the successful leverage of the legal cannabis market, which Consilium anticipates will drive growth for years to come.

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.ChineseInvestors.com

Posted in Chineseinvestors.com, Inc. CIIX | Leave a comment

ProBility Media Corp. (PBYA) is Tackling America’s Skills Gap with its Suite of Technical Training Programs

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) released on Tuesday May 9, 2017, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that ProBility Media Corp. (OTCQB: PBYA) has got its ducks lined up in a row. The JOLTS proclaimed happy tidings: the number of manufacturing jobs added in March was the highest for any month since ‘the front end of the Great Recession in early 2008’, according to U.S. News (http://dtn.fm/ORz1Z). But this good news was bundled with some bad news. America is experiencing a skills gap: a mismatch between the skills employers require and the skills the workforce possesses. ProBility Media Corp., however, is aiming to narrow that gap. With its suite of technical training and testing solutions, the company is empowering America’s craftsmen and skilled workers once again.

The JOLTS report (http://dtn.fm/vM5mu) revealed that, in March, manufacturing industries added 322,000 to their payrolls. This brings to 922,000 the number of manufacturing hires for the first quarter of 2017, an 11 percent year-over-year increase on 2016. The report also showed that there were 394,000 job openings at the end of March, matching the record highest, attained in July 2016, since April 2006. Manufacturing output has expanded substantially since the doldrums of the financial crisis in 2009, with the St. Louis Fed’s index of real manufacturing output recording a rise of 29 percent. Contrary to widespread reports, manufacturing employment has also risen since the Great Depression, although less than output. FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data) shows employment in the sector rising by 8 percent, from 11,475,000 in December 2009 to 12,396,000 in April 2017 (http://dtn.fm/3XnsM).

While the data provides some reassurance that American manufacturing is alive and well, it also reveals a disturbing trend of layoffs, which signals a skills gap. In March, some 105,000 manufacturing workers were laid off. Factories are hiring, but they’re firing, too.

However, ProBility is endeavoring to fill that skills gap. The company provides a range of education and training programs for a wide variety of vocational occupations such as craning, rigging, electrical, plumbing and HVAC.

ProBility is disrupting the technical vocations training and certification industry by creating the first full service training and career advancement brand in the technical fields. It has undertaken a major push into the crane training space and is now developing online training programs employing virtual reality technology. ProBility’s crane e-learning products include full crane operator’s courses that simulate the hands-on experience of a lab and physical school. In addition, its publishing division has been working to create full handbooks to accompany the online courses.

ProBility continues to expand its suite of e-learning, training and testing services, through both acquisitions and internal growth. The company is positioning itself as the go-to resource for individuals, small- and medium-size businesses, and large enterprise customers by offering consistent high-quality training services and materials for education, testing, and career advancement.

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.ProBilityMedia.com

Posted in ProBility Media Corp. PBYA | Leave a comment

New Financial Legislation Could Limit Securities and Exchange Commission’s Policing Powers

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) could lose several of its current functions and powers, including how it polices the markets, if a new financial legislative proposal is passed by the current administration, according to a New York Times report (http://dtn.fm/2FAyo). The Financial Choice Act 2.0, introduced last week by the House Financial Services Committee’s Chair Representative Job Hensarling, a Texas Republican, is described by proponents and supporters as a bill aimed at creating hope and opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and consumers by giving more freedom to credit unions and small banks in an attempt to increase the number of available financial options for small players. Opponents, however, slam the proposal as a “handout to Wall Street” by aiming to lift some of the restrictions and regulatory measures enforced by 2010’s Dodd-Frank Act, Forbes said (http://dtn.fm/hIah3).

Hensarling’s bill does seem to focus around the theme of being tough on Wall Street by significantly increasing maximum penalties for violations, including by adding a corporate fine of $10 million per violation and making it possible to triple fines for repeat offenders. It should be noted that higher financial penalties might not have the desired effect, especially for companies that earn billions of dollars and would be able to pay such fines without batting an eye. Additionally, the proposed legislation would require the SEC to determine if a corporate fine will hurt shareholders, which could actually lead to lower penalties for fear that they might harm innocent investors.

The real bone of contention, however, is that the Financial Choice Act attempts to restrict a lot of the SEC’s administrative proceeding rights by transferring responsibility back to federal district courts from the commission’s in-house judges. While not directly ruling out in-house proceedings, the bill would make it more difficult to pursue securities law violations in-house, because it would significantly complicate burden of proof requirements for the SEC. Moreover, the bill would also strip the SEC of the power to bar people found guilty of security law violations from serving as a directors or officers of a public company. Instead, this decision would be transferred to a federal district judge.

The proposed changes are a direct response to the Dodd-Frank Act’s provisions that allowed the SEC to pursue a higher number of cases with its own in-house judges instead of with a federal court. This led to overall faster proceedings, but defense lawyers and opponents of the act complained that the shift gave the SEC an unfair advantage and deprived defendants of their rights. It is yet to be established whether the increase in number of in-house administrative proceedings indeed gave the SEC an unfair advantage. According to a recent article by Georgetown University visiting faculty member Urska Velikonja (http://dtn.fm/9r8RK), the difference between cases won in front of its own judges and those won in federal court is an insignificant two percent. Moreover, there have been known instances of cases thrown out by the SEC’s in-house judges for insufficient evidence.

If the Financial Choice Act is adopted in this form, it would drastically hamper the SEC’s regulatory activities and slow down administrative proceedings against people or corporations that violate securities laws. The proposal seems to reflect lawmakers’ general mistrust of the SEC and a general concern that the agency was too aggressive over the past few years.

While similar legislation was rejected under President Barack Obama, this time it has every chance to succeed, as President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act even before his election. Passed in direct response to the massive financial crisis of 2008, the Dodd-Frank Act was primarily designed to prevent such a crisis from re-occurring by cracking down harder on large banking institutions and decreasing various risks in the financial system. The act proposed tougher regulations and established several new government agencies in charge of overseeing various aspects of the banking system. Critics of the act insisted that it would harm the competitiveness of U.S. companies and ultimately hurt economic growth (http://dtn.fm/NrK7i), and that is exactly what Hensarling’s bill is trying to counter – the legislation’s main declared goal is to promote economic growth by granting more financial freedom to small businesses. It remains to be seen in what form the Financial Choice Act will be passed, but one thing is for sure: it will significantly impact how the SEC works and its ability to efficiently enforce the right penalties against securities law offenders.

Posted in Small Cap News | Leave a comment

FORM Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: FH) is “One to Watch”

FORM Holdings (NASDAQ: FH) employs a relatively simple yet extremely robust targeting matrix when it comes to acquiring new development candidates. It’s really all about what this diverse holding company can bring to table, as well as how much an otherwise promising, vetted target can benefit – whether it is additional capital and restructuring we are talking about, or full-scale rebranding and implementation of new best practice procedures. Similarly, candidates are selected that can clearly benefit from the kind of new talent recruitment, as well as tailored marketing, public relations, and visibility enhancement, that only an outfit of FORM Holdings’ caliber can provide.

The operational profile of FORM Holdings spans several wholly-owned operating units in technology, including built-to-order, rugged, field-ready mobile and computing products company, Group Mobile; the designer, developer and manufacturer of mobile device-agnostic, wire-free rapid charging and power systems, FLI Charge; and an IP monetization company, Vringo, which works a growing portfolio with more than 75 technology patents, covering everything from telecom infrastructure, remote monitoring and internet search, to ad-insertion, wireless charging, and mobile technologies. The Company also maintains an 8.5 percent stake in Infomedia, a privately-owned, leading UK-based CRM (customer relationship management) and monetization tech provider to mobile carriers and device manufacturers.

However, FORM Holdings has shifted a good deal of its overall corporate focus in recent quarters to its newly-acquired health and wellness subsidiary, XpresSpa. For, as CEO and Director Andrew Perlman recently pointed out in an interview with Bloomberg Market’s Pimm Fox, airport traffic in the U.S. was up 3.2 percent to 929 million passengers last year alone, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. XpresSpa represented approximately 70 percent of FORM Holdings’ 2016 revenues, whereas the aforementioned other four business units represented only the remaining 30 percent. XpresSpa raked in some $43.6 million last year, with hearty store level profitability margins of around 20 percent.

Unlike traditional brick and mortar retail that has seen increasingly dramatic erosion by e-commerce (as antiquated and vulnerable operations become displaced by digital commerce of some form or another), airport terminals provide a comparatively captive consumer audience that is willing to spend more for immediate satisfaction. This only becomes more and more the norm in a world where enhanced security procedures often mean longer wait times and increased stress. Indeed, checkpoint traffic rose 15 percent from 2011 to 2016, while the number of screeners declined roughly 5.5 percent. Even with TSA PreCheck, more travelers and fewer screeners has led to long wait lines and grumpy passengers.

According to the Department of Transportation, consumer complaints from all categories against airlines were up 47 percent from 2014 to 2015, and they rose another 10 percent last year. With a variety of well-publicized stories in the news recently about airline carriers failing to live up to customers’ service expectations, the welcoming promise of a pre- or post-flight XpresSpa decompression session may be just the ticket when it comes to encouraging travelers to keep flying the not-always-so-friendly skies. One look at the full-service spa offerings available – from massage, manicure/pedicure, facials, and waxing, to hair and grooming, as well as shower facilities at some locations – and even the lay investor can see why the XpresSpa business model has caught fire with travelers. This is especially true when one considers the demographic of U.S. air travelers, who have as much as double the median household income, or that of the frequent fliers, who generally have more than double the median household income and make most of their airport retail purchases on impulse due to the same factors which plague all airline travelers, such as boredom, stress, and the hectic nature of most airports.

XpresSpa is more than just a well-recognized and trusted brand that consumers have come to rely on to de-stress before or after a wearying journey. It is also the dominant player in the industry domestically with 3.3 times as many locations in the U.S. market as its next closest competitor, Be Relax, and more locations than all of its competitors combined if we look at total global market saturation (U.S. included). This is an interesting metric indeed, given that the company’s international footprint currently consists of just three stores in Amsterdam and one in Dubai. If we look at the choice CAPEX to profitability data on the Company’s new kiosks, which pulled on average about half the $1 million in sales last year that the in-line stores did, the expansion potential for this sector front-runner becomes even more tantalizing.

While XpresSpa is likely the most recognized and popular airport spa brand among travelers today, with 53 locations in 40 terminals at 22 airports, one of the real keys to building the company’s presence has been to deploy multiple locations at a single airport. For instance, the Company has seven stores and a kiosk at New York’s JFK alone, which was actually the number one large U.S. hub last year for international enplanements, and was the fifth busiest U.S. air travel hub (by total boarding).

Just to underscore the viability of this multiple location per venue model, and to dissuade investors from the notion that eight is enough when it comes to venue saturation, the company has another location slated to open at JFK in Q2 FY17. It says a lot about the business model’s expansion potential to see XpresSpa going for a ninth location at JFK (3.4 percent increase last year to nearly 28.9 million passengers), and the Company has three more locations slated for this year as well, which will make seven total new locations opened in all since the acquisition of XpresSpa was announced by FORM Holdings back in August of 2016.

Another key to the success and overall profitability of the XpresSpa model has been a superb and growing selection of retail items ranging from high-quality but affordable grab-and-go travel accoutrements, like best seller $18.00 travel pillows and $10.00 satin eye masks, to the $180.00 luxurious cashmere travel set, which includes a 100 percent silk eye mask, in addition to the 100 percent cashmere blanket, pillow, and mask cover case. Beyond travel blankets, masks and pillows, XpresSpa sells a wide variety of other spa products, including bath & body, hair and personal care items, hydrogel eye and face masks to revitalize tissues, and therapeutic massagers. The global airport retail market is on pace to hit $90 billion by 2023 according to a new report from Credence Research, and the U.S. space alone was estimated at around $4.5 billion back in 2015 by Micro Market Monitor.

Add to XpresSpa’s established store/product driven brand presence with the May 8 announcement of an exclusive partnership with hot, on-trend private label and branded product designer/manufacturer Capelli New York, and you have the formula for retail dynamite. Capelli has serious traction in the coveted junior and contemporary markets, with coordinated product lines in the fashion accessory and jewelry segments, as well as in hosiery, footwear, sleepwear, and home fashion (among others). The move to have Capelli co-produce and sell XpresSpa’s branded travel, spa products and accessories is something which should translate handily into expanded reach, brand presence, and overall gross margins. On this subject, it is worth pointing out to investors that XpresSpa is helmed by the former VP of premium, luxury and sports eyewear brand Luxottica, Ed Jankowski, who was also formerly Senior VP for gourmet Belgian chocolatier Godiva. This is a company that understands how to connect with high earners through premium offerings.

Furthermore, FORM Holdings has some big overhauls coming this year for XpresSpa, including XpresSpa 2.0 locations with improved aesthetics, layout, efficiency optimizations, and service offerings. Additionally, a new POS system (slated for Q4) will be fully integrated with the reservation system, open up expanded digital marketing capabilities, and leverage an already-signed user base of over 140,000 affinity members.

The other 30 percent of 2016 revenues is nothing to sneeze at either. Group Mobile has a solid pipeline of request for proposals with law enforcement, and an emphasis on long term corporate/municipality contracts for its rugged computing options, which are well-served by an experienced sales team who knows the prevailing hardware landscape like the back of its hand. Group Mobile saw 25 percent year over year sales growth last year to $6.6 million, even as bookings and customer commitments increased 128 percent to $12.1 million. Group Mobile serves a wide range of clients, from military and first responders to large select customers such as Macy’s. Rugged laptops, tablets and handhelds, as well as its wide range of other solutions, from body cameras to drones, are just a taste of the thousands of products from top brands that allow Group Mobile to tap an increasingly large slice of the $5 billion and growing domestic rugged mobile computing market.

FLI Charge also deserves a closer look, as it has some of the most advanced/efficient wire-free conductive technology available today. The sheer adaptability of this technology when it comes to working with essentially any battery-powered/DC device on the market today is enough to make FLI Charge worth further investigation on its own – but the usage characteristics of this technology are the real head-turners. Able to deliver wattage via a protocol that is as safe as plugging into a wall outlet, FLI Charge enablements can be embedded easily into any battery operated or DC-powered device, allowing them to be charged or powered via a pad such as the FLIway 40. This same ease of use becomes available for iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones with FLI Charge’s FLIcases (70 percent thinner than extra battery packs), which remove the need for an enablement and allow the phone to be FLI Charged by simply setting it on the pad in any direction.

Investors can get a good look at FORM Holdings at the upcoming Oppenheimer Emerging Growth Conference, which will be held at the luxurious InterContinental Barclay Hotel in New York City next week. CEO Perlman will be available for one-on-one meetings throughout the day for those who arrange a meeting with Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.

To take a closer look, visit http://www.formholdings.com/corp_overview

Posted in Ones to Watch | Leave a comment

MissionIRNewsBreaks – Monaker Group (MKGI) Reviews Fiscal 2017 Successes

Travel and technology company Monaker Group, Inc. (OTCQB: MKGI) today reported results for the full fiscal year ended February 28, 2017. Highlights include introducing the first customizable alternative instant booking engine, adding hundreds of properties to the Monaker travel network, and signing of the first major industry partner to integrate its instant booking engine. The company also provided its optimistic outlook for the current fiscal year as its target market is expected to grow at more than 7% CAGR, making it the fastest growing sector of the travel industry. Additionally, the company expects to release NextTrip Phase II in late summer 2017 and increase its inventory of properties from 1.2 million to more than 2 million.

To view the full press release, visit http://dtn.fm/QvaU4

About Monaker Group

Monaker Group is a technology-driven travel company focused on delivering innovation to alternative lodging rentals (ALR) market. The Monaker Booking Engine (MBE) delivers instant booking of more than 1.2 million vacation rental homes, villas, chalets, apartments, condos and castles. MBE offers travel distributors and agencies an industry-first: a customizable instant booking platform for ALR. Monaker’s NextTrip.com B2C website, also powered by MBE, is the first to offer significant instantly bookable ALR products along with mainstream travel products and services all on a single site. NextTrip also features rich content, imagery and high-quality video to enhance a traveler’s booking experience and assist in the search, decision and buying process for both individuals and groups. For more information, visit www.monakergroup.com or www.nexttrip.com.

Posted in MissionIRNewsBreaks, Monaker Group Inc. MKGI | Leave a comment