The Mission Report

The MissionIR Report - October 2011

In-depth analysis, timely updates, latest market news


Market News

Company Updates


VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc. Gold Outlook for Last Quarter of 2011

Gold Prices rose over $100 an ounce during the third-quarter, settling at $1,622.30. The 6.5% gain was no easy ride for investors who saw prices north of $1900 just last month. The turbulence has refueled debate over the precious metal's stature as a safe haven investment, with many viewing the September 10% sell-off as a sign the bubble burst. Alix Steel, reporter covering the metals beat for, couldn't disagree more.

"Prices are broken, you definitely can see that, but I don't think the bubble has burst here," she says. Steel points out that the most recent rally in gold has spanned over two-years, and the last two-months alone have seen prices jump over $300 an ounce. "Prices have a right to come off," she says, expecting volatility to persist in the fourth quarter.

"I don't think we're going to see a huge rally right off the bat. I think we're going to have a period of consolidation," she says. However, her ear is to the wall on the gold trade and she's still hearing calls from traders that have gold rebounding by year-end up to levels between $1,800 - $2,000 an ounce.

Steel explained that demand driving the precious metal higher is not Western centric. Here, we see gold action influenced more by technical levels, whereby a consolidation move could be easily fueled into a major correction or crash. But what's easily forgotten is the strength in Asian demand. "India could be importing a thousand tons of gold this year," says Steel. As her sources explain, there's rampant buying there sending premiums up "gangbusters." And of course there's China, a key demand player that has gone from net neutral to a positive demand effect of 300 tons per years according the World Gold Council. China accounted for 6% of total global demand in 2000 and rose to 18% in 2010.

Two more catalysts in Steel's bullish view are central bank buying and negative real interest rates. According to the World Gold Council, central banks imported 198.4 tons of gold in the first half of 2011 versus two years ago, they were selling 450 tons a year.

Of course, any gold outlook that doesn't address currency would be remiss. As Europe continues to sort through its debt crisis, we'll likely see more currency fluctuations. The more instability in the EU, the faster the flight to safety into the US dollar becomes.

"We saw the Euro basically start to collapse… and yet investors fled to the dollar of all things, which the gold bugs say shouldn't happen," says Breakout's Jeff Macke. Macke, who exited his gold position in the (GLD) in August explains, "shouldn't, wouldn't, couldn't are bad words in investing, because what happened was people buying treasuries, people buying the dollar which has been strong even as gold collapsed."

For long-term investors, the moves we've seen recently still don't deter the fundamentals, according to Steel. She believes the recent gold trade was a margin call story, not a fundamental change, making gold prices much more attractive for Q4 than they were two weeks ago. As for what to look for before you buy into the gold weakness, Steel says "you want a steady rise. Once you see a steady rise start to happen in a more methodical way, that's a safer place to buy rather than just a spike up."

Investors Support Obama's
Buffett Rule

Surprisingly, global investors have overwhelmingly given their support to President Barack Obama's proposed tax increase for those earning annual incomes of $1 million or more in an effort to reduce the deficit.

By a margin of 63 percent to 32 percent, respondents in a Bloomberg Global Poll approved of the president's proposal, known as the "Buffett rule" in a nod to Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., who has said it is wrong that he pays a smaller share of his income in taxes than does his secretary.

Obama said Sept. 19 that making sure that the wealthy pay at least the same tax rate as the middle class was "just the right thing to do." House Speaker John Boehner accused the president of practicing "class warfare," saying any new tax would hurt job creation and Buffett's situation was not typical.

The call for the rich to pay more, however, found backing among financial professionals in the quarterly Global Poll of 1,031 investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers. "Higher tax payments could help to avoid or delay potential social disturbances and in addition create some kind of a general solidarity," says Henry Littig, chief executive officer of Henry Littig Global Investments AG in Cologne, Germany, a poll respondent.

Support for the millionaire's tax was highest in Europe, where French President Nicolas Sarkozy plans a 3 percent surcharge on incomes above 500,000 euros ($680,000.) European poll respondents backed Obama 78 percent to 17 percent; Bloomberg customers in Asia supported the president's idea 69 percent to 21 percent.

"Increasing taxes on millionaires may not harm the economy, but it will not help it either," said Don Lindsey, chief investment officer at George Washington University, who participated in the survey. "What we need is a complete overhaul of the tax system."

In a New York Times op-ed last month, Buffett wrote that his federal income tax bill was $6.94 million, or 17.4 percent of his taxable income -- a lower rate than any of the other 20 employees in his Omaha, Nebraska, office.

Buffett said the "ultra-wealthy" should pay a new minimum tax, without any change in tax rates on income or capital gains. "An athlete making $10 million -- he would not have a change in his tax rate at all or $20 million or $30 million even," Buffett said. "But somebody that buys a stock index future and sells it 10 seconds later and gets 60 percent by long-term gains, he would have a different world to live in."

The debate over a "Buffett rule" tax caps an era in which disproportionate rewards have gone to those at the top of the nation's income distribution. Between 1993 and 2008, the top 1 percent of families captured 52 percent of total income gains, according to a 2010 paper by economist Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley.

The administration has said it has no plans to submit a detailed millionaires' tax proposal to Congress. For now, that means the main significance of the Buffett rule is political not financial.

The proposed tax is the rhetorical centerpiece of White House jockeying in the run-up to the deliberations of a congressional "supercommittee" seeking $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Nov. 23.

VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc. (VSTA) Announces Expansion of Key Stem Cell Technology Patent Estate

VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc. was pleased to announce the issuance of two additional United States patents supporting its therapeutic and drug discovery programs.

U.S. Patent 7,763,466, titled "Mesoderm and Definitive Endoderm Cell Populations," and U.S. Patent 7,955,849, titled "Method of Enriching a Mammalian Cell Population for Mesoderm Cells," further enhance VistaGen's intellectual property portfolio and provide additional protection for its proprietary research and development activities. Methods covered in these important new U.S. patents describe the use of activin and serum-free culture conditions for producing endoderm and mesoderm.

"Strong and enforceable intellectual property rights are critical components of our plan to optimize the commercial potential of our Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube™ platform," said Shawn K. Singh, VistaGen's Chief Executive Officer. "These patents further solidify our growing IP portfolio. Generally speaking, they expand the application of our activin-driven pluripotent stem cell differentiation technology to include a broader range of tissues and organ systems, and significantly strengthen our market position."

Mesoderm and endoderm are two of the three primary early precursors, "germ layers," which develop into all of the non-neuronal cells of the body. Endoderm is the innermost of the three primary developmental germ layers, and develops into the gastrointestinal tract, including the major cells of the liver and pancreas, respiratory tracts of the lungs, other endocrine glands and organs, such as the thyroid and thymus glands, the major cells of the kidney and the auditory and urinary systems. Mesoderm is the germ layer lying adjacent to the endoderm. These multi-potential cells develop into cardiac and skeletal muscles, all the cells of blood and lymphatic systems, bone, cartilage, fat, the lining of blood vessels, and connective tissues.

Activins are members of the important transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) family of "morphogens," i.e. developmental factors that direct and control the differentiation and eventual fate of early precursor cells. During development, the body uses differing concentrations of morphogens, similar to activin, to direct precursors to become the various mature cells discussed above. Methods utilizing differing concentrations of activin to direct and control the differentiation of various mature cell types are described in these issued U.S. patents and are widely-believed as having significant commercial value.

In addition to the patent estate that VistaGen owns and controls by license in the U.S., the Company has proprietary rights to a large and growing number of patents granted in territories outside the U.S. Having recently reported its original research demonstrating the use of pluripotent stem cells to generate insulin, these issued U.S. patents further highlight VistaGen's leadership position in the field as the Company applies its Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube™ platform for proprietary applications in drug rescue, cell therapy and regenerative medicine.

The patent families related to these two issued patents are subject to exclusive licenses to VistaGen on a worldwide basis through an agreement with Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM) in New York. The patents stem from work conducted by scientists in the laboratory of Dr. Gordon Keller, formerly a Professor of Gene and Cell Medicine at MSSM and Director of its Black Family Stem Cell Institute. Dr. Keller is now Director of the University Health Network's McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Toronto and Chairman of VistaGen's Scientific Advisory Board.

VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc.

VistaGen Therapeutics yesterday announced a poster presentation of its research and development activities leading to validation of its human stem cell-derived "Micro-Heart" cardiotoxicity bioassay system, CardioSafe 3D™, at the fourth Symposium on Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine hosted by the National Institutes of Health's ("NIH") National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. To view the entire press release, visit the following link: VistaGen Presents Highlights of Its Human Stem Cell-Derived "Micro-Heart" Cardiotoxicity Assay

Last week, the company announced publication of its original research demonstrating the use of pluripotent stem cells to generate insulin. The research results present a powerful in vitro model system designed to screen for potential genes or drug candidates capable of inducing the production of insulin-secreting pancreatic beta-islet cells. To view the entire press release, visit the following link: VistaGen Reports Advances in Its Pancreatic Cell and Regenerative Medicine Programs

About VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc.

VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc. is a biotechnology company applying stem cell technology for drug rescue and cell therapy. Drug rescue combines human stem cell technology with modern medicinal chemistry to generate new chemical variants ("drug rescue variants") of promising drug candidates that have been discontinued during preclinical development ("put on the shelf") due to heart or liver safety concerns. VistaGen also focuses on cell therapy, or regenerative medicine, which includes repairing, replacing or restoring damaged tissues or organs.

VistaGen's versatile stem cell technology platform, Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube™, has been developed to provide clinically relevant indications, or predictions, of potential toxicity of new drug candidates before they are ever tested on humans. VistaGen's human pluripotent stem cell-based bioassays more closely approximate human biology than conventional animal studies and nonclinical in vitro techniques and technologies currently used in drug development.

Using mature human heart cells produced from pluripotent stem cells, VistaGen leveraged its Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube™ platform to develop CardioSafe 3D™, a three-dimensional (3D) bioassay system for predicting the in vivo cardiac effects of new drug candidates before they are tested in humans. The Company now plans to leverage CardioSafe 3D™ to build a pipeline of new, safer, variants of promising drug candidates that have been "put on the shelf" by pharmaceutical companies because of toxicity concerns, despite positive efficacy data signaling their potential therapeutic and commercial benefits.

VistaGen is also developing LiverSafe 3D™, a predictive liver toxicity and drug metabolism bioassay system, and is preparing to initiate pilot preclinical development of cell therapy programs focused on autologous bone marrow transplantation and heart, liver and cartilage repair. Each of these development programs is based on the proprietary human pluripotent stem cell differentiation and cell production capabilities of the Company's Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube™ platform.


In a recent press release, SEFE, Inc. announced that it has been issued patent 7,855,476B2 for its Atmospheric Electrical Generator. The patent, filed in 2008 by SEFE Chief Technology Officer Mark Ogram but owned by SEFE, Inc., is the first of several patents that the company has submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

"The Atmospheric Electrical Generator is at the core of our intellectual property portfolio," stated Mr. Ogram. "Inventions such as these are what will allow us to stay at the forefront of this rapidly growing industry. The Atmospheric Generator is important because it will serve as a cornerstone. We are witnessing a shift in the scientific community toward the belief that this energy source, which we have always recognized as having prevalence in our environment, is not as impossible to utilize as has been previously thought."

About SEFE, Inc.

SEFE, Inc. is focused on developing and deploying a promising solution to our world's energy problems. It is now more obvious than ever before that fossil fuels are increasingly more difficult to find and harvest. It is also well known by now that alternative energy, such as solar, wind and nuclear, has its own list of unsolvable issues. SEFE's unique technology, in comparison, harvests unadulterated, carbon-free, always-on and problem-free energy from a never ending source.

The company calls it True Energy because it's not an alternative to anything and it certainly isn't petroleum based. SEFE's solution works by capturing and converting naturally occurring static electricity in the atmosphere into a constant, abundant and decidedly green source of renewable energy. The patented technology has been designed to be robust, easy to implement and user-configurable from the start so that these systems can be deployed anywhere and generate current usable by any localized source.

Because the cost of deploying and maintaining SEFE systems is relatively low, the company believes it can sell a kWh of electricity at $0.03 per unit. In comparison, nuclear energy costs approximately $0.14 per kWh and wind energy costs approximately $0.07 per kWh. SEFE is currently prosecuting four pending United States Patent Applications to protect their core intellectual property. Once issued, these patents will provide barriers to entry and fortify their foundational business construct.

The company has grown from a national company to an international concern with planned partnerships in China, India, Australia and the EU. SEFE is also well supported by a highly capable management team that has accumulated more than 30 years of experience in corporate management and governance. The company also employs a host of associates who are experts in fabrication and product development, FAA regulations, engineering and utility consultation, among others.

SunPower Corp. (SPWRA)

In a recent article published by SeekingAlpha, SunPower Corp. was featured for its high-performance solar power technologies. The article, written by the MissionIR team, provided an expansive overview of the major energy sources powering the U.S. with most of the focus directed towards the rapidly growing renewables market.

In spite of industrial opposition, and significant remaining technical challenges, green energy continues to build market share. The ongoing trend of decreasing costs and increasing efficiencies can only be expected to fuel continued growth. To view the full article, visit the following link: Green Energy's Bottom Line

About SunPower Corp.

SunPower Corp. designs, manufactures and delivers some of the highest efficiency, highest reliability solar panels and systems available today. Residential, business, government and utility customers rely on the company's quarter century of experience and guaranteed performance to provide maximum return on investment throughout the life of the solar system. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., SunPower has offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

The company serves utilities and large commercial clients with design, construction and performance management services, and the residential and small commercial customers through a global dealer network. Through its SunPower Foundation, the first non-profit organization of its kind entirely funded by a major solar company, SunPower focuses on empowering, inspiring and motivating a new generation of solar leaders in communities around the world.

SunPower engages in extensive research and development efforts to improve solar cell efficiency through enhancement of existing products, development of new techniques such as concentrating photovoltaic power, and reducing manufacturing cost and complexity. The company's R&D group works closely with manufacturing facilities, equipment suppliers and customers to improve solar cell design and lower solar cell, solar panel and system product manufacturing and assembly costs.

SunPower guarantees its customers the highest level of solar energy performance. Ten years of comprehensive data show that on average, SunPower panels deliver 105 percent of their expected energy production. Also, because they're built to withstand real-world conditions, long-term maintenance costs are remarkably low—with an impressively high 98 percent uptime.


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