American Superconductor has established itself at the forefront of the global multi-billion dollar wind energy and power grid markets. After 26 years in the industry they now boast some of the most advanced systems, as well as individual components available in the space today. Spanning the entire energy value range with platform solutions tailored to the exact customer’s needs, from generation to transmission and eventual distribution, AMSC is a powerhouse provider of value-added wind and grid hardware/software.
AMSC brings a whole host of electronic controls/systems, as well as turbine designs and ancillary engineering services to some of the planet’s biggest and best manufacturers/operators via its Windtec™ Solutions division. The company can take a project from turbine conception (designs range from 1.65 MW to 10 MW) through to seamlessly hooking infrastructure up to the grid, providing entire systems or just the component the customer wants. AMSC Wind Turbine Controls and Systems help push the performance envelope to the maximum, especially in the fierce offshore arena, where the industry hungers for ever more powerful gen plants that can wring every last kilowatt-hour out of the wind’s energy. Durability, maximum uptime and availability, as well as precision quality/control are all vital factors in the equation here and smart control systems like AMSC’s wtECS™ (Electrical Control System) helps make wind more and more competitive as a source by slashing the levelized cost of electricity production (LCOE – the price, including all costs, at which electricity needs to be generated from a source to break even over the project’s lifetime).
AMSC’s Generator and Drivetrain Solutions are second-to-none in the industry today when it comes to LCOE reduction and they are available in a variety of formats. From a robust yet simple Direct Drive, to the widely used DFIG format (doubly-fed induction generators, including brushless), AMSC is a recognized leader. With solutions ranging up to full-scale conversion drivetrains, the company’s HTS Direct Drive (using power dense superconductors), and their patented SuperGEAR™ drivetrain, which gets rid of the converter and transformer altogether, AMSC has attained a considerable engineering mastery that is prized throughout the sector. Superconductors present specific, daunting manufacturing challenges and AMSC has a long track record for successfully fabricating high-temp superconductors.
The company’s Gridtec™ Solutions were in the news recently (Sept 10), with the biggest and most respected provider of turnkey high voltage solutions in South Africa, CONCO (Consolidated Power Projects), tapping the company’s D-VAR® STATCOM Renewable Interconnectivity Solution to hook up the largest wind farm in South Africa to the grid. This is a huge deal for AMSC, being the first D-VAR STATCOM (static synchronous compensator) sale into South Africa and with such a prestigious customer, it bodes well for the company, especially considering that AMSC was chosen for their proven ability to meet even the most stringent of grid code requirements. The complete compensation and voltage control capabilities of the D-VAR, which has fully dynamic reactive VAR compensation, makes the platform ideal for renewable power plants and continuous interconnectivity. AMSC currently has over 20 power grid operators worldwide using the D-VAR STATCOM solution and has orders for more than 100.
The company’s D-VAR RT is a great in-turbine retrofit that lets operators do unit-level voltage control upgrades and their Wind-RT™ Systems go even further, having been developed specifically to meet Chinese grid code specs. With sub-20 millisecond turbine isolation on power dips and immediate modulation, the Wind-RT is a simple, cost-effective low voltage ride through (LVRT) solution that helps maintain a constant voltage profile, keeps the turbine magnetized and running at a constant speed/torque, then smoothly reconnects the unit to the grid once voltage has been stabilized.
Back in 2011 the company sued then startup and customer, now Chinese wind powerhouse, Sinovel, for breaching the company’s trialware scheme on the control codes programmed into their wind turbine controller firmware and this unresolved issue is a potential major option value for the company.
By offering some of the most advanced and efficient control, grid interconnection, power capacity/reliability, and power conversion hardware on the market today, AMSC has managed to forge strong ties with key industry players. With HQ near Boston, Massachusetts, and operations in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, AMSC is well positioned to continue dominating substantial territory in the wind and grid space as utilities and regulators continue to adapt their policies.
China Commercial Credit has amassed a considerable microcredit empire in the thriving eastern coastal province of Jiangsu. Founded only five years ago, the company now services over 360 SME (small-to-medium enterprise) clients, as well as farmers and individuals with direct loans and loan guarantees. The company’s primary footprint is in and around Wujiang City (1.5M people) where the company has its headquarters, a city which has boomed on the back of Jiangsu Province (79M people in 2011) having one of the highest population densities in all of China and being home to many of the world’s top electronics equipment exporters.
Prevailing legislation in China has brought in banking reforms that have opened up microcredit lending at competitive rates for SMEs, farmers, and individuals (who previously were unable to borrow from State-owned and commercial banks), sending CCCR’s business model through roof. The entire microcredit space in China is expanding rapidly now, with some 5.6k microcredit companies across the country managing an outstanding loan balance of $83B in the aggregate (September 2012, PBOC). Mounting demand from these SMEs, who have historically been a massively under-served market and relegated to high interest rate, often illegal lenders, creates a fertile soil for CCCR’s growth strategy.
Via the company’s subsidiaries and other contractual arrangements, CCCR is helping to stimulate this entire business sector and aiding China’s concerns about inflation, fulfilling the CBRC (China Banking Regulatory Commission)/PBOC 2008 guidance mandate with a new type of financial vehicle that can jump-start the microfinacing of small borrowers. By fusing the loan and services umbrella of state-owned and commercial banks, while tapping into such a large and healthy under-served market, CCCR is poised to seriously leverage their stable relationships with local branches of both types and capture considerable market space in the process. The company is looking to grow their lending capacity through revenue generation and an increase in the registered capital of their primary operating unit, Wujiang Luxiang (just over $44M as of March 31), subsequently moving to acquire choice targets in the microcredit space in and even around Jiangsu (Zejiang and Shanghai microcredit companies generating returns in the 15.68% and 11.56% range respectively).
Offering fixed interest rates to the borrowers, CCCR has been pulling in one to twelve month loan size, duration, and rate returns of $16k to $320k (as of March 31, 2013), on an average annual interest rate of 15.01%, further shoring up third party lending opportunities with guarantees to the SMEs. Strict underwriting protocols have brought back a sub 5% extension rate and because the company really works hand-in-hand with its customers as well, they have a huge turnover in renewed loans, accounting for 73.26% of the total outstanding direct loan balance in 2012 (Dec 31) and a full 90.30% as of March 31 this year. Keep in mind that none of the company’s direct or renewed loans are for more than a 12-month term and that the Jiangsu microcredit space is ripe for acquisitions, with roughly 465 companies chasing just under $16B total loans outstanding last year and it is easy to see the company’s springboard strategy for growth.
The credit crunch policy in China has really bolstered the microcredit arena in general and since the CBRC lifted restrictions on commercial banks in 2004, allowing them to operate outside the city in which they were located for the first time, the M&A furnace has gotten hotter and hotter, with smaller local commercial operations forming into regional banks. The increasingly important role that SMEs play in the Chinese economy (around 60% of GDP and 80% of employment in 2012) will only sweeten the pot for CCCR, who will be squarely focused on expanding their direct loan and guarantee infrastructure among them, as well as among individuals and farmers.
Management’s solid underwriting skills really have been a major key to the company’s resounding successes and the General Manager of Wujiang Luxiang is the principal decision maker and leader of the management team across all subsidiaries, with his authorization required on all key aspects of the loans (based on their risk management department’s assessment report). This is an incredibly efficient little company in a province where the average return on capital for microcredit companies is 10.70% and where there is strong future growth potential due to historically underserved borrowers simply not addressed by state-owned and commercial banks.
CodeSmart Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiary The CODESMART™ Group, Inc., is a premier national subject matter expert for ICD-10 education and compliance in the United States. Its flagship product, CODESMART™ UNIVERSITY, is a well-respected online program of study for existing coders, new coders, clinicians, and healthcare roles of all types.
CODESMART™ University was created through the combination of a leading panel of ICD-10 subject matter experts and a major four-year accredited university, which contributed the nation's top course designers and a platform that already provides interactive education to more than 60,000 students per year in degree programs. The ICD-10 training provided includes live professors who work with and guide students through the programs of study in ICD-10.
CodeSmart Holdings has built its reputation by providing customized training to hospitals, health systems, and physician’s practices nationwide, in addition to Puerto Rico, as well as a host of other services. The company is well positioned to help the healthcare industry address the unprecedented number of mandates coming into effect in the next two years.
In addition to the revenue generation from its on-line training offerings, the company provides additional services to increase brand awareness and generate additional streams of income. The company also offers ICD-10 preparation for healthcare providers, outsourced coding, code auditing, and on-site workshops that can be simultaneously accessed online via webinars. With a strong marketing campaign and business model addressing today’s rising healthcare concerns, CodeSmart is poised for rapid growth.
Onyx Pharmaceuticals, the globally-focused biopharma out of southern San Francisco that has assembled a broad-spectrum pipeline of cancer therapies targeting multiple molecular pathways, with their primary developments in kinase and proteasome inhibitors, has become an extremely hot property with several of the top biotech/biopharma firms gunning for them.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal report on ONXX following last month’s unsolicited buyout offer from biotech heavyweight Amgen (which was subsequently rejected by the company for being too light), Pfizer, Bayer AG, and Eli Lilly have all been sniffing around as well, with the stock now trading comfortably in the $130 range since it rallied around 50% on such interests. The market is clearly telegraphing signals here about the strength of Onyx’s portfolio of cancer therapies, and the company’s Board gave the go ahead to their financial advisory firm to begin scooping up potential deals that would be in the shareholder’s best interests, obviously emboldened by the market’s warm reception of key expansions to their pipeline made recently, as well as two notably successful product launches.
The start of July saw Onyx and long-time associate, Bayer HealthCare, putting in a supplemental New Drug Application to the FDA as well as its EU equivalent, the European Medicines Agency, for their new oral anti-cancer drug Nexavar® (sorafenib, developed and marketed in collaboration with Bayer). Available in tablet form, this multi-kinase inhibitor, currently approved to treat liver and kidney cancers, has shown great potential in clinical studies for treating differentiated thyroid cancers (represents 94% of all thyroid cancer cases) that no longer respond to the standard radioactive iodine therapy.
The capacity of sorafenib to inhibit multiple kinases associated with both of the primary cancer growth factors spells a great boon for those afflicted with what is the fastest-increasing cancer on earth in recent years (thyroid), as well as to breast (for which sorafenib is currently in late-stage studies) and other difficult-to-treat cancer sufferers. Given a new incident rate for thyroid cancer of some 213k patients per year, alongside the progression-free survival performance of sorafenib in the Phase 3 DECISION trial, interest by larger industry players is likely reflecting the potential of sorafenib, as well as the other therapies and indications in the ONXX pipeline.
The other leading kinase inhibitor on the radar here is Stivarga® (regorafenib). Also distributed in tablet form, this Bayer-developed compound is used to treat colorectal cancer and a rare gastrointestinal cancer that spreads easily and can’t be treated with surgery, in patients where other medicines have failed. Stivarga is a particularly sweet deal for ONXX, as the company receives a royalty of 20% on all global net sales of the drug in oncology by Bayer. Across the board really, ONXX’s existing therapies show massive potential to span different types of cancer and lines of therapy, proving the value of their kinase and proteasome inhibitor technology.
Kyprolis® (carfilzomib), designed for injection, is the company’s chief proteasome inhibitor and is approved by the FDA for multiple myeloma patients (abnormality of plasma cells in the bone marrow and the second-most common hematologic cancer) who have failed to halt progress within 60 days of at least two prior therapies (including the current leader, bortezomib). With some 100k new cases diagnosed annually worldwide and over twice that currently living with the disease, multiple myeloma is a sizeable and growing target for ONXX, but the company also has a rapidly emerging set of other proteasome inhibitors.
First among the other proteasome inhibitors is Oprozomib, an oral indication which has shown broad anti-tumor activity in preclinical work and is distinct from the injected carfilzomib technology, despite being based upon the same selective-targeting chemistry used to develop Kyprolis. Good extant traction here in recurrent or refractory solid tumors and hematologic malignancies (includes multiple myeloma) will likely be borne out by ongoing Phase 1 and 2 trialing and confidence is high at ONXX that the broad therapeutic window seen in preclinical work will develop nicely.
Rounding out the Onyx lineup is a potent immunoproteasome inhibitor named ONX 0914 that shows an incredibly bright future in handling autoimmune disorders. The goal with this indication was to harness the selective targeting capability in immune cells of proteasome function, while seriously delimiting impact to proteasome in other tissue systems, a profile which offers tantalizing possibilities for treating lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as inflammatory bowel disease via the blockage of a variety of inflammatory cytokines. It is also important to note the collaborative work on Palbociclib done by Onyx with another industry leader, Pfizer. Palbociclib is the lead compound out of their joint program to study several such important compounds that modify how certain, crucial enzymes help to regulate the overall cellular lifecycle. Palbociclib is an oral small molecule kinase inhibitor currently in Phase 3 for which ONXX stands to gain an 8% royalty off of all Pfizer’s global sales.
Needless to say the company is attracting serious attention in the markets on the strength of this oncology pipeline, and the unsolicited offer by Amgen is a tip of the hat regarding the company’s technology for robustness and broad future applicability. ONXX has their hands on winning technology here with a very bright future that could ultimately save countless lives and markets know it.
NanoString Technologies wowed markets this week with Monday’s news that their Prosigna™ Breast Cancer Assay platform received 510(k) clearance from the FDA. An automated and easy to use molecular diagnostics platform based on the company’s proven gene expression technology nCounter®, which has helped see over 100 peer-reviewed studies come to publication since 2008, Prosigna is now able to be placed in qualified labs all over the country.
The company has taken their proven nCounter Dx Analysis System and structured a platform around the PAM50 gene signature, resulting in an in vitro diagnostic assay that is fully self-contained (including consumables), yet still offers an amazingly powerful mapping solution to profile gene expression that can readily assess a patient’s risk. Prosigna is designed specifically as a prognostic tool for assessing susceptibility to distant recurrence and thus can give oncologists and pathologists a quick way to test their breast cancer patients and give them an idea of their future chances.
The target window is survival at 10 years and Prosigna is indicated for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer postmenopausal women with one to three positive lymph nodes who’ve done the standard surgery and locoregional treatment. The platform has its own scoring system, the Prosigna Score, which indicates risk of recurrence and a second score which is computed using the Prosigna Score and the overall positive/negative status of the patient’s lymph nodes.
Prosigna landed EU regulatory clearance back in 2012 and launched just this February, so the FDA’s quick decision is a clear endorsement of the platform’s extremely precise, quantitative methodology. This thing is robust too, it actually does single-tube multiplexing of all 50 Prosigna genes in one reaction (using single-molecule imaging) and you don’t need to amplify the reaction as with some other assay technologies because the Prosigna platform is incredibly sensitive and can pull readings with remarkable efficiency, outputting a simple digital bar code. NanoString isn’t screwing around with the product execution either; Prosigna is completely automated, making the tedious and laborious job of testing simpler and easier than what caregivers have come to expect.
The company really has thought this through superbly and is drawing heavily on their established, clinically actionable genomic mapping technologies to offer oncologists and pathologists a really good way to assay small tissue samples and tell the patient what their chances are like. The product execution should have shareholders beaming.
A huge boon for breast cancer sufferers and one that is not a moment too soon either, with the most recent year of data aggregated by CDC (2009) showing over 211.7k cases in the U.S. alone, as well as a tragic 40.6k casualties. These are our mothers, sisters, and daughters dying of what is now the most common cancer among U.S. women (aside from non-melanoma skin cancers) and markets reacted accordingly to the news as shares jumped 66.40% to close $12.68 on Tuesday.
SeaWorld Entertainment is a name and company known the world over for their incredible theme park and entertainment offerings which fuse fun activities like rides, shows, and other attractions with the beauty of nature, resulting in highly engaging, enjoyable educational experience environments that really accentuate the majesty of the some 67k marine and terrestrial animals currently in the company’s unique collection.
Such high profile brands as SeaWorld® and Busch Gardens®, with attractions like the incredible Shamu™ show, which continues to draw massive crowds at SeaWorld San Diego (as well as at shows in Orlando and San Antonio), are not just household names here in the United States; they have and continue to gain increasing prominence on the world’s stage. SEAS owns or licenses a large portfolio of globally recognized brands and has really carved out a solid foundation for itself in the parks industry, with over five decades in the game and is now picking up considerable steam in media. SeaWorld has quite literally become synonymous with aquatic theme parks and such shows as Shamu in particular have enjoyed an exceptionally long run, with the current “One Ocean” Shamu production delighting crowds with its mixture of jaw dropping animal training and always exciting human-orca interactions.
Part of the success story for SEAS is the thrill people get from seeing rare and even dangerous creatures up close and personal, so the company has never shied away from this crucial aspect of the business, despite also running a vast array of theme and ride-focused content at venues like the European-themed Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Busch Gardens Williamsburg has some of the best rides in the state of Virginia, including world-class roller coasters like the flying coaster Alpengeist® (Ghost of the Alps), which has the riders hanging below the track with their legs free and which has been consistently voted to be among the top ten steel coasters on earth today. The company is also seeing really good traction with their water parks, like the Adventure Island® location right across from their Busch Gardens Tampa site, or the Aquatica™ parks in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego, which feature high-speed water slides and wave pools, as well as tranquil beaches and/or fun lounging areas.
This superb menu has meant good business for SEAS, with a majority of revenue coming in the door from their strongly executed operations, even as more and more space opens up for the company through ingenious leveraging of their high profile brands to do consumer products, education/entertainment, and other media. These guys saw attendance of over 24M guests last year, with roughly 14.6% of that coming from 55 plus countries on six continents. The first half of 2013 looks really nice, with the Aug 13 financials showing record revenues of $649.9M, up 2% over last year’s front half. The company sliced off over $180M in long-term debt as well and refinanced their $1.4B credit facility with favorable terms (maturity rolled out to 2020), declaring a $0.20 cash dividend per share at the start of July.
President and CEO of SEAS, Jim Atchison, beamed at how the company shrugged off a bad Q2, with weather and ugly Easter holiday timing conspiring to drag profitability down (Mar 31 date caused wicked overlap with the spring break holiday in several key markets). Atchison emphasized the strength of the company’s underlying business model and how their rigorous pricing and yield management efforts have allowed SEAS to remain firmly on-track for 2013 guidance, with adjusted EBITDA projections of $430 to $440M (revenues of $1.45B to $1.48B). The fact that they could bring in new pricing and yield management strategies, weather the impact, and still pull down record revenues, with a total revenue per capita increase of 8%, says a lot about how finely tuned the SEAS engine is.
With a diverse group of 11 hot destinations and regional theme parks across key U.S. markets, as well as an exceptionally shrewd approach to capital expenditures and working capital management, SEAS is set up to continue dominating in this space for the foreseeable future. The strong performance competencies established by SEAS at their operations, combined with a naturally interesting group of people and work environment, is a formula that lends itself quite naturally to television production and this vector has becoming of increasing interest to the company as a relatively low budget way to further leverage their impressive infrastructure.
ZBB Energy continues to win favor in the global market for exceptionally well engineered and integrated energy storage and intelligent power control platform technologies, designed to make using renewable sources a cinch, with multiple AC and DC inputs able to be dovetailed together seamlessly.
We are talking demand-driven power flow and optimized source usage here, with the capacity to operate as a modular, expandable power plant that can even function as an emergency power system during grid outages. The ZBB EnerSystem™ storage and control platform makes it extremely easy to manage a complex array of AC and DC sources, with inputs ranging anywhere from solar and fuel cells, to diesel generator sets. This robust, factory-tested power conversion system is ideal for off-grid solutions like remote communications towers, forward military bases, disaster relief scenarios, and even electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs, but the ZBB EnerSystem also features single point of power connection, making it suitable for a variety of on-grid solutions as well, like in commercial buildings.
At the core of the ZBB EnerSystem is the ZBB EnerSection™ power and energy control center (a patented hybrid conversion system), which meshes disparate AC and DC sources as well as multiple types of storage units easily. The company even offers an optional Grid Isolation Device that lets the customer isolate the entire system (to or from the grid) when connecting customer loads during outages, allowing for a seamless subsequent reconnect when service comes back up.
The backbone of storage is the company’s ZBB EnerStore® flow battery modules, representing a superb bulk energy storage solution that provides the lowest cost of ownership over a 20-year target lifecycle (per module) and handles advanced tasks like continuous output, load management, and time shifting, all without sacrificing one iota of performance, scalability, or modularity. These ZBB EnerStore units are completely self-contained, front-accessible cabinets that require no additional ventilation, no external power input to fire up, and a completely integrated DC bus that removes the need for onsite wiring of power connections. These incredibly powerful zinc/bromide battery-based systems are perfect for distributed energy applications and offer a whopping seven times expected service life over traditional lead/acid (with five times the energy density of redox flow designs) in typical 100% capacity usage scenarios. Better yet, the ZBB EnerStore units are expandable up to 500kWH in a single enclosure, with up to 6000kWH available if you daisy-chain several enclosures together.
A recent show of strength by the company as they continue to make inroads in global markets with their renewable-friendly grid modernization hardware can be seen in the recent (July 23) third-party certification of the ZBB EnerStore by the PRC’s equivalent of OSHA, NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), a major coup that paves the way for more sales of ZBB hardware throughout Chinese markets. Extensive ion chromatography done by NIOSH on the ZBB EnerStore advanced flow battery confirms the safety standards inherent in their design and these batteries have some of the best chemical and vapor containment ratings in the entire product class.
This important certification actually comes in via Meineng Energy (Anhui Meineng Store Energy System Co., Ltd.), a leading provider of energy storage systems and solutions in the PRC with whom ZBB is currently in a joint venture. Meineng Energy GM and CEO, Brad Hansen, commented on the mounting acceptance by customers in China of the ZBB EnerStore, saying that the continued growth in adoptance was tied directly to an outstanding reputation for safety earned by the product.
Also in increasing demand among the company’s growing customer footprint are their designs for innovative hybrid vehicle power controls, made available through a supply agreement with Cummins Crosspoint, LLC subsidiary, Crosspoint Kinetics. Targeted at the domestic Class 4, 5, and 6, small to medium bus market, this ingenious controller technology is designed from the start to be easily adopted and is fully government compliant, perfect for integration or retrofitting in new or existing fleet vehicle). These systems are a real performance and mileage upgrade that also reduces emissions, while simultaneously doing away with any need for batteries, thanks to the use of onboard super capacitors.
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