The Mission Report

The MissionIR Report - January 2014

In-depth analysis, timely updates, latest market news


Market News

Company Updates


Home Prices Higher in 2013

U.S. home prices in 2013 likely rose at the fastest pace in eight years, with almost half of states recently within 10% of peak levels, according to data released Tuesday.

In November, monthly home prices ticked up 0.1%, with annual growth of 11.8%, CoreLogic, an Irvine, Calif.-based analysis firm, reported. CoreLogic expects growth for all of last year to hit 11.5%, which would be the fastest pace since 2005.

Relatively few homes on the market and pent-up demand led to fast price appreciation last year. Also, some borrowers rushed to take advantage of the ultra-low interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages that started rising in early May.

Looking forward, economists expect home-price growth to cool down for several reasons. Price gains over the past year will make more sellers willing and able to place their homes on the market, and encourage builders to ramp up construction, thereby raising inventory. Also, home-price growth that outpaces income gains is unsustainable. And interest rates are expected to continue to rise, cutting some demand, though economists say expected increases won’t derail the market’s recovery.

New mortgage rules this year and ongoing housing-finance reform could also curb some lending.

“The outlook for 2014 looks a bit less robust as regulatory complexities and tight credit can be expected to cool the housing market,” Anand Nallathambi, CoreLogic’s CEO, told Marketwatch.

But slowing home prices aren’t all bad. Certain borrowers, such as first-time purchasers, who had trouble competing with investors and other buyers last year, may have a better shot at buying a home in 2014. Housing-market participation by first-time buyers is key because it helps young families grow their savings and enables repeat buyers to move into a new place.

By state, Nevada saw the fastest annual home-price growth in November, reaching above 25%. However, Nevada was hit particularly hard when the housing bubble burst, and prices there remain 40% below peak. Meanwhile, Arkansas saw annual home-price growth fall 1.1% in November, making it the only state with a year-over-year contraction. Other states, such as Nebraska, North Dakota and Texas, set new home-price peaks in November.

Trade Deficit Slumps to 4-Year Low

Falling imports of foreign oil pulled the U.S. trade deficit down in November to its lowest level in four years, offering further evidence that the economy grew faster in the final months of 2013 than previously projected.

The nation’s trade deficit dropped to a seasonally adjusted $34.3 billion from a revised $39.3 billion in October, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a deficit of $40 billion.

Before the trade report, economists were forecasting U.S. growth of 2.3% in the fourth quarter, according to the MarketWatch survey. Afterward, some firms raised their projections to 3% or even higher.

A smaller trade deficit increases gross domestic product because it means Americans are selling more U.S.-produced goods and services overseas while buying less from foreign nations.

The big story in November was oil. Petroleum exports climbed 5.5% in November to $13.3 billion. Just a year earlier, U.S. oil exports were 23% less at $10.79 billion. Petroleum imports, by contrast, shrank 11.2% to $28.5 billion to mark the lowest level in three years.

The U.S. continues to benefit from a booming energy industry that is exporting more petroleum than ever, the result of new technologies that have unlocked large oil deposits that were previously unrecoverable.

“Not only is the American energy boom underpinning export growth, it is reducing American demand for foreign oil,” Jay Bryson, global economist at Wells Fargo Securities, told Marketwatch.

Demand for foreign oil — and the price per barrel — also tends to fall after the end of the summer driving season.

In November, overall U.S. exports rose 0.9% to a record $194.9 billion, also spurred by sales of industrial supplies, business equipment and autos. Higher exports of American-made goods add to other reports indicating that U.S. manufacturers are experiencing a rebound in sales both at home and abroad.

Oil Bucks Losing Streak, Freeze Lifts Nat Gas

Oil futures rebounded on Tuesday, with prices looking to break a losing streak that has spanned five-straight sessions as traders continued to mull a potential recovery in Libyan oil output.

Natural-gas futures, led the percentage gains in the energy market, as freezing weather in much of the U.S. boosted demand for the heating fuel.

Crude oil for February delivery rose 51 cents, or 0.6%, Tuesday to $93.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Prices on Monday shed 53 cents, or 0.6%, to $93.43 a barrel, on Nymex, marking their lowest settlement in about five weeks as the possible increase in Libyan oil output weighed on the markets.

“Libya is still expected to increase exports in the very near future, which will obviously add to global supply,” said Tyler Richey, an analyst for the 7:00’s Report, which offers daily markets commentary.

But overnight, various news reports said that Libya’s navy barred on an oil tanker from loading crude at a militia-controlled port.

“The lack of oil revenues has apparently left Libyan government coffers close to empty, and the government may not be able to pay civil servants in the near future, which will lead to even more unrest,” said analysts at the Kilduff Report.

Meanwhile, “Iraq is in turmoil, again, just as their oil output was seen rising,” the analysts said.

“The central government is said to be readying an assault to thwart the uprising in Fallujah,” they said. “If the operation is unsuccessful, then the security that has been generated, of late, will dissipate.”

On ICE Futures, February Brent crude gained 45 cents, or 0.4%, at $107.18 a barrel.

The American Petroleum Institute’s report on U.S. petroleum supplies will be followed by more closely-watched figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration later today.

Although the EIA figures last week showed a fifth-consecutive , the market “seems to have shrugged this off as a normal seasonal effort by refiners targeting lower year-end stock levels,” Timothy Evans, an energy analyst for Citi Futures, wrote in a recent note.

Data Monday showed that the U.S. trade deficit dropped to a seasonally adjusted $34.3 billion in November from a revised $39.3 billion in October. Petroleum exports climbed 5.5% in November while petroleum imports shrank by 11.2% to mark the lowest level in three years. “The increase in crude-oil production has had major ramifications for the trade balance,” said economists at Scotiabank Economics.

“The increase in domestic crude production has : a) allowed U.S. refiners to be more selective about the crude that they import in terms of source, quality, and price and b) it has allowed U.S. refiners to dramatically increase their exports of refined petroleum products.”

Cold weather boost

Natural-gas futures led the gains in the energy-futures market on Tuesday, with prices up by more than 1% on the back of a deep freeze in many parts of the U.S.

Natural gas for February delivery advanced 5.5 cents, or 1.3%, to $4.36 per million British thermal units on Nymex.

On Monday, Bentek Energy, Platts’ oil and natural-gas analytics unit said U.S. natural-gas demand set a record that day, with total natural gas nominated to consumers rising to 125.7 billion cubic feet per day — 3.4 bcf higher than the previous record set on Jan. 16, 2009. Bentek at the time said demand on Tuesday could be just as high or set another record.

Senate Confirms Yellen as Fed Chair

The Senate on Monday approved Janet Yellen to be the first chairwoman of the Federal Reserve in the central bank’s 100-year history.

The vote was 56 to 26. Many senators missed the vote because of the severe winter weather, a Senate aide said. Eleven Republicans voted with 45 Democrats to support Yellen, who will be the first Democrat to run the Fed since Paul Volcker left in 1987.

“Janet is committed to the Fed’s dual mandate of keeping inflation in check while also addressing our most important economic challenge by reducing unemployment and creating jobs. And she understands that fostering a stable financial system will help the overall economy and protect consumers,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.

“The American people will have a fierce champion who understands that the ultimate goal of economic and financial policymaking is to improve the lives, jobs and standard of living of American workers and their families,” he added.

Yelllen’s term will begin on Feb. 1. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will lead the Fed’s next rate-policy committee meeting in late January.

Yellen, 67, has been at the center of monetary policy deliberations over most of the past 20 years.

Her first stint on the Fed board started in 1994 during the Clinton administration where she served under former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan for three years before joining the Clinton White House in 1997.

Yellen’s second stint at the central bank began in 2004 when she was picked to be the president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank. She left that job only to return to Washington in 2010 to serve as Bernanke’s No. 2.

There was little debate on the Senate floor over the nomination prior to this evening’s vote.

Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky and a leading critic of the Fed, gave his speech against Yellen after the vote because his flight was delayed due to weather. While noting the widespread support for Yellen, Paul said the Senate will “rue the day” that it supported her.

The lack of drama belied the often tumultuous process of selecting a replacement for Bernanke.

Chris Krueger, a senior policy analyst at Guggenheim Washington Research Group, said the Obama administration’s quest for a new Fed chairman was “bizarre.” “From beginning to end, this has not been a particularly elegant process,” Krueger said.

First, President Barack Obama caught financial markets off guard this summer when he strongly hinted that Bernanke was going to step aside.

This started a public competition for the top Fed job between supporters of Yellen and backers of Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary and Obama confidente and top economic advisor.

Summers eventually pulled his name from consideration after some liberal Democrats in the Senate signaled their strong support for Yellen.

Yellen managed to stay above the fray. In November, she sailed through her nomination hearing in the Senate Banking Committee.

“She hit a home run,” Krueger said.

Economists said Yellen will come under immediate pressure, as the central bank continues to fall short on both of its policy objectives for full employment and stable inflation.

The unemployment rate fell to 7% in November, but remains above the 5.5% rate considered to be full employment by Fed officials.

Armed with an optimistic forecast for 2014, the Fed decided last month to start to taper its controversial bond-buying program, scaling it back by $10 billion to a pace of $75 billion per month.

Financial markets generally expect the Yellen Fed to continue to continue to scale back purchases this year, with an eye to ending the program entirely before 2015.

One big challenge for Yellen will be deciding how to refine its new “forward guidance” tool, where the central bank tells the market about when it expects to raise short-term interest rates.

Many economists are skeptical the central bank can keep long-term interest rates from rising as it tapers its bond purchases.

In December, the Fed said it would hold rates at zero “well past” the time that the unemployment rate declines below 6.5%.

Robert Brusca, chief economist at FAO Economics, said he does not think that forward guidance works.

James Glassman, economist at J.P. Morgan Chase, said the Fed has the final say on short-term rates, but is “just a player” in setting long-term rates.

Glassman said that low inflation could be Yellen’s biggest challenge.

The Fed’s favorite measure of inflation, the personal consumption expenditure index, rose only 0.9% over the past 12 months ending in November, well below the Fed’s 2% target.

“The Fed keeps saying it is going to go back up but I think it is going to be a bigger challenge than they think,” Glassman said.

Wall Street thinks that creating inflation is easy, he said, but the history of Japan over the past two decades shows that this view is simplistic, Glassman said.

Brusca said that Yellen’s biggest challenge may be to help bring down the unemployment rate further now that the central bank is pulling back its stimulus program.

Yellen may also face pressure to scale back bank regulation enacted under Dodd-Frank if the economy stays tepid, Glassman added.

Macau Gambling Industry Dwarfs Vegas

Forget about Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Macau has cemented its status as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the gambling industry.

The Chinese territory reported gambling revenue of 360 billion patacas ($45 billion) for 2013, an increase of almost 20% over the previous year.

If that sounds like a lot of cash, it is. Las Vegas will be lucky to make $6.5 billion, or 15% of Macau's total. Atlantic City's haul is likely to be even lower.

The former Portuguese outpost has been gaining momentum for years, fueled by a loosening of regulations and a Chinese populace that is eager to gamble. When restrictions on foreign operators were lifted in 2002, new casinos opened in droves as international firms joined the rush.

Macau is the only location in China where gambling is legal, and millions of tourists flock to the territory each year. Rapid growth has attracted the biggest players in the industry, including Las Vegas Sands (LVS, Fortune 500) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN, Fortune 500).

The boom has reverberated across the Pearl River Delta. In Hong Kong, home to some very devoted gamblers, the government is scrambling to build a bridge to Macau that will cross some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Hong Kong gamblers currently rely on a fleet of ferries to reach the territory.

Yet Macau, with a population just under 600,000, is not merely an imitation Vegas. Chinese gamblers favor games like baccarat over poker and blackjack. And Nevada still has the edge when it comes to entertainment, offering a greater variety of dining options and shows led by stars such as Britney Spears.

Despite its runaway success, Macau's boom has not been without cost.

The territory is almost entirely dependent on gambling. When the industry booms, tax revenue jumps and residents -- most of whom are employed in the business -- receive payouts from the government. As a result it's vulnerable to changes in policy and would suffer greatly if China repeated a 2008 clampdown on the number of mainland visitors.

The city has also attracted unsavory elements often associated with the industry, including money launderers looking to evade limits on moving cash out of China.

Beijing limits the amount of money Chinese can take out of the country to $50,000 per year. For those looking to skirt the rules, Macau provides an attractive option.

By working with a junket operator -- which performs the basic functions of a tour company -- visitors use yuan to buy casino chips, but cash out their winnings in foreign currencies, including dollars. The money can then be moved abroad and used to make purchases in Europe and the United States.

Despite efforts to restrict this activity, the practice has attracted plenty of criticism, including from the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ATNM)

Holders of approximately 80 percent, or 18.3 million, of Actinium Pharmaceuticals’ outstanding shares as of the record date November 7, 2013, recently participated in the voting at the company’s annual general shareholder meeting. All of the proposed resolutions were approved and ratified including Proposal 1, which showed unanimous support for the company’s board of directors.

Management said it will continue to guide the company from a strategic perspective and said the board will work with management to assure implementation of these strategies as the company progresses its lead drug candidates Iomab™-B and Actimab-A in their planned phase 3 and ongoing phase 1/2 trials, respectively.

In late December the company successfully transferred the technology for the manufacture of Iomab™-B, which is being developed for therapeutic treatment of incurable blood cancers. The processes for radiolabeling, testing and evaluating the stability of Iomab™-B have been successfully completed, and plans for scale-up are underway. Actinium has also acquired inventory of the monoclonal antibody BC8 and has planned future large-scale manufacturing of this antibody.

About Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company with a proprietary platform that combines the precision targeting of monoclonal antibodies with the killing power of alpha and beta radioisotopes, the former being the most potent cancer killing agents in existence. Leveraging this platform and its ties with leading cancer institutions such as Sloan-Kettering (its largest shareholder), MD Anderson, Fred Hutchison, and Johns Hopkins, the company is focused on developing drugs for underserved cancers with no approved drugs which have multi-billion dollar market potential.

Iomab-B, Actinium's lead product candidate, targets age 55+ patients who suffer from one of the deadliest of blood cancers called Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). There are no approved drugs for AML patients and most die within six months. For the few that do manage to go into remission, a bone marrow transplant offers a chance at being cured. However, even this is a risky procedure for these patients and most do not survive beyond six months. But in a Phase 2 trial, one in five patients who received Iomab-B before a bone marrow transplant made it past the two year anniversary when they are considered cured versus almost zero for those who do not. These results imply such a medical breakthrough that the FDA has agreed that the company may conduct just one pivotal trial before filing for BLA approval, assuming it is successful. The primary endpoint in the pivotal Phase 3 trial is durable complete remission, defined as a complete remission lasting 6 months. The Phase 1/2 trial results showed that sixty percent of older patients with advanced refractory and relapsed leukemia achieved disease fee survival after six months.

Iomab-B has shown in many cancers during several Phase 1 and 2 trials with over 300 patients that its use can meaningfully increase survival of bone marrow transplant patients, and the company is initially developing it for AML because it is the fastest path to market. The leading experts in the transplant community recognize that Iomab-B has the potential to meaningfully increase the success rate of bone marrow transplants and offer patients who are condemned to die a chance of being cured. As bone marrow transplants are already the fastest growing hospital procedure and a multi-billion dollar market despite their high failure rate, this bodes well for Iomab-B. Also, bone marrow transplants are delivered in under two hundred centers in the U.S. with most transplants being done in just twenty centers. This implies Actinium can commercialize Iomab-B on its own in the US without a major salesforce; especially as it has the support of leading experts and there are no approved drugs for this purpose.

However, Actinium is no one trick pony. It has another drug called Actimab-A for first line treatment of AML in a Phase 1/2 trial. Over time, the biggest market potential for Actinium lies in the fact that its highly patented platform technology could be used to target a wide variety of cancers. Preclinical and clinical work has already focused on Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL), brain cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and a number of other cancer related indications. Aside from Iomab-B, the company plans to develop its products through Phase II clinical trials and then partner with an appropriate third party to complete development and commercialization. The compelling advantages of the Actinium's platform should continue to draw attention from the healthcare and investor communities. A closer look at their technology will further illustrate the immense licensing and acquisition potential inherent in the company's high-momentum product pipeline. In fact its closest technology competitor, Algeta, which is about 3-4 years ahead from a market perspective, was just acquired by Bayer for $2.9 billion.

CytRx Corp. (CYTR)

CytRx continues to receive considerable exposure from contributing writers from reputable third-party sources. The company was recently featured in a Seeking Alpha article in which the writer highlighted the CytRx’s pipeline of oncology treatment candidates. As the article notes, shares of CytRx have soared nearly 200 percent over the past year along the course of development of aldoxorubicin. The author suggests that shares will head even higher in 2014. To read the full article visit: also published an article featuring aldoxorubicin’s potential as an effective treatment for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive malignant brain tumor in humans. To read the full article click here.

About CytRx Corp.

CytRx Corp., a biopharmaceutical research and development company, specializes in the enhanced delivery of proven oncology therapies to treat cancer. The company’s novel linker platform technology can be utilized with multiple chemotherapeutic agents and could allow for greater concentration of drug at tumor sites while minimizing side effects.

Aldoxorubicin, the company’s flagship compound, is an improved version of the widely used chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin. CytRx is conducting a global phase 2b clinical trial comparing aldoxorubicin to doxorubicin as a treatment for 1st-line soft tissue sarcomas. Top-line results are expected in Q4 2013. Preparations are underway for a phase 3 trial in 2nd-line soft tissues sarcoma to begin in Q1 2014 based on results from a completed phase 1b/2 clinical trial. The FDA granted CytRx a Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) for the phase 3 clinical trial. The company is conducting a phase 1b pharmacokinetics clinical trial and in Q4 2013 plans to start a phase 2b trial in glioblastoma multiforme (stage IV brain cancer) and a phase 2 trial in Kaposi’s sarcoma.

With no debt and significant cash resources, CytRx has the capital position necessary to support near and mid-term milestones across its entire oncology pipeline. CytRx also has rights to two additional drug candidates, tamibarotene and bafetinib, for which it plans to seek a partner for further development.

ForceField Energy, Inc. (FNRG)

ForceField Energy’s potential in the evolving lighting industry market was recently discussed by Seeking Alpha contributing writer John Mylant. As noted in the article, ForceField Energy has developed an aggressive marketing strategy and complementary network of sub-distributors through which the company can target large-scale customers in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. To read the full article visit:

On December 23, ForceField Energy celebrated its progress as a competitive player in the renewable energy company by ringing The NASDAQ Stock Market Closing Bell.

Prior to that, Zacks Small Cap Research published a research report featuring ForceField Energy, placing a price target of $6.50 on the company’s stock. To access the full report click here.

About ForceField Energy, Inc.

ForceField Energy, Inc. is an international manufacturer, distributor, and licensee of alternative energy products and solutions. ForceField has two primary segments through which it focuses on the largest and fastest-growing areas of the global renewable energy market: industrial waste heat recovery and conversion, and commercial LED lighting products.

TransPacific Energy (TPE), a subsidiary of ForceField Energy, has patented a technology that uses “waste heat” from various industry processes and other sources to provide clean electricity. The subsidiary’s process directly captures and converts heat from the heat source, without any heat transfer fluids, at temperatures from 80ºF up to 900ºF. This is a far broader range than any other competing systems on the market, unlocking a countless number of new applications.

TPE sells systems directly to customers for their installation and operation. The company owns, installs and operates ORC systems, sells electricity, licenses its technology for specific applications and markets and conducts research and development for new ORC applications and renewable energy.

Through its exclusive multinational distribution agreement with Lightsky, ForceField has a firm foothold in the commercial lighting products industry as well. The LED lighting market is growing at a 32% compound growth rate because of the absence of dangerous chemicals, government regulation phasing out old lighting technology, 50-70% lower energy costs, exceptionally long life, and beautiful illumination.

Methes Energies, Inc. (MEIL)

For the months of October and November, 2013, Methes reported that production targets for the current calendar year were met, with November marking the highest month of gallons of biodiesel produced in the company’s history. Totals for the month of November topped September and October by more than 60,000 gallons for each month.

Production of biodiesel at Methes’ Sombra, Ontario, facility for the months of September, October, and November 2013 was higher than the total amount of biodiesel produced in all of its fiscal year 2012. As anticipated, the company’s fourth quarter saw the highest quantity of gallons produced in any previous quarter in the company’s history.

About Methes Energies, Inc.

Methes Energies uses its own proprietary technology to produce high-quality biodiesel processors and systems to capitalize on the growing demand for renewable energy, surging energy prices, and the value of biodiesel as a practical and realistic long-term replacement for conventional diesel fuel. The Company’s processors are flexible and can use a variety of virgin vegetable oils, used vegetable oil and rendered animal fat feedstock, allowing operators to take advantage of feedstock buying opportunities. Methes Energies also markets and sells high-quality biodiesel fuel produced at its 1.3 MGY (5 MLY) showcase production facility in Mississauga, Ontario, and at its 13 MGY (50 MLY) facility in Sombra, Ontario, to customers in the U.S. and Canada.

Methes Energies’ broad range of expertise and solutions include all aspects of the engineering, manufacturing, production, logistic, marketing and distribution processes. Among other services, the company leverages its cutting-edge biodiesel processors, pre-treatment systems, and other solutions to address real and specific biodiesel production challenges for large and small-scale biodiesel producers and entrepreneurs seeking to produce their own fuel.

In 2007 the company introduced the Denami 600, the industry’s first compact, full automated continuous flow biodiesel processor designed to run on a wide variety of feed stocks. This reliable, cost-effective and superior method of producing top-grade biodiesel exceeds current ASTM standards.

The company also sells feedstock to its network of biodiesel producers, selling their biodiesel production and providing clients with proprietary software to operate and control their processors. Methes Energies remotely monitors the quality and characteristics of its clients' production, upgrades and repairs their processors as necessary, and advises clients on adjusting their processes to use varying feedstock to improve the quality of their biodiesel.

VolitionRx Ltd. (VNRX)

MissionIR recently conducted an audio interview with VolitionRx president and CEO Cameron Reynolds, and published the interview online at: The interview discusses the company’s operations, executive management team, as well as its outlook for 2014.

Reynolds in December was also interviewed by SNN Live host and CEO Shelly Kraft at the Sixth Annual LD Micro Conference in Bel Air, Calif., to discuss VolitionRx’s inexpensive, accurate, and scalable cancer detection blood tests. To view the interview visit:

About VolitionRx Ltd.

VolitionRx Ltd. is a life sciences company focused on bringing to market its inexpensive, accurate, and scalable cancer detection blood tests. The company intends to use its NuQR suite of products to fill a looming void in cancer diagnostic testing, for which there currently is only one blood test in common clinical use.

NuQR is based on VolitionRx's proprietary NucleosomicsR technology, capable of measuring and identifying nucleosome structures in the blood. The company has secured strong intellectual property protection for its products, further strengthened by patent applications in the United States, Europe and worldwide. Following ongoing clinical trials and regulatory approval, VolitionRx will market its diagnostic and screening tests for individual cancers under the NuQR brand.

The company is currently conducting clinical trials for its first product, a diagnostic test for colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States - current tests are expensive, invasive and unpleasant, resulting in a significant need for an improved alternative for colorectal diagnoses.

VolitionRx's primary office and laboratory are based in Namur, Belgium, from which the company's strong team of professionals spearhead corporate initiatives. The company's executive management team is further supported by a scientific advisory board staffed with senior scientists from around the world, as well as a highly experienced board of directors.


For more frequent updates, follow us on Twitter!