Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stellar Biotechnologies Makes KLH Applications

Stellar Biotechnologies (KLH.V / SBOTF) makes targeted therapeutics from keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH).  This protein is cultivated from mollusks called keyhole limpets in some kind of aquaculture.  The CEO is a scientist who invented the extraction method this company uses, and he formerly ran an aquaculture company.  I can't think of a more appropriate combination of scientific and business backgrounds.

I am impressed that a single source of protein enables multiple products in vaccine carriers and test kits.  Vaccine carriers typically have cold change storage requirements, so it will be interesting to know the shelf life of a KLH-based product.  I am further intrigued that this business model does not depend on the success of one specific vaccine because the basic protein can be adapted to the needs of multiple vaccines.

Stellar's success depends on executing licensing agreements rather than clinical trials.  I searched SEDAR for their financial statements because I didn't see anything useful in EDGAR.  Their annual statement for the year ending August 31, 2013 showed almost US$7.9M in cash on hand, and annual losses of almost -US14.9M.  They still have to raise significant amounts of money because their increasingly negative retained earnings shows them going farther in the hole every year since 2011.

I think their technology holds promise, but they need to execute some licenses.  Negligible revenue for a company that has been publicly traded for almost four years makes me wonder whether vaccine makers are getting Stellar's value proposition.  BTW, other companies (such as biosyn) also market KLH products.  Stellar must show the market some major clients to prove it has something worthwhile.

Full disclosure:  No position in Stellar Biotechnologies at this time.