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Melissa Davis, senior editor of The Street Sweeper, poses with celebrity stock picker Jim Cramer after a recent taping of his "Mad Money" television show. Davis worked as an investigative reporter for TheStreet.com, where Cramer serves as chairman, before assuming her current role at The Street Sweeper.

Shock therapy: Cyberonics link to deaths and injuries

by Sonya Colberg, Senior Investigative Reporter, 4/16/2014 1:28:01 PM

 

Judy Bowling could easily complete the night shift at a New York medical clinic, drive the 20-mile commute back home, yank off her favorite green scrubs and grab a few hours of sleep. After school, the single mom and her young daughter would often jump in the car so the child could spend the night with Ms. Bowling’s parents, giving the two some cherished “girl time” during the drive.  

But life changed radically after Ms. Bowling had a “VNS” device by Cyberonics (Nasdaq: CYBX) implanted inches above her heart to try to control her epileptic seizures with tiny electric shocks transmitted to the brain.

She is one of thousands of patients who have been implanted with the device that Dr. Peter Barglow terms, “completely worthless.”

“I’d never dream of subjecting anyone to that sort of nonsense,” said Dr. Barglow, an MD with more than five decades in the psychiatry field, now handling a busy practice in Berkeley, Calif. After extensive examination of the issue and VNS studies, he said he considers any association with VNS irrational.

In Ms. Bowling’s case, the seizures became worse, and she quickly spiraled downward both physically and mentally.

Ms. Bowling’s experience is one of more than 9,000 Cyberonics-linked injury reports submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration from 1998 to this month.

In fact, more than 1,980 Cyberonics-linked death reports were uncovered in our investigation.

These “adverse events” resulted from the device made and touted by a company staggering beneath two extensive FDA warning letters and targeted by a US Senate investigation into effectiveness and safety concerns. And the heat’s still on as this company faces a false claims lawsuit that we believe has ample potential to move forward.



Ocean Power Technologies (OPTT): Wave Goodbye To This Wave Power Company

by Sonya Colberg, Senior Investigative Reporter, 4/3/2014 10:07:29 AM

Ocean Power Technologies (Nasdaq: OPTT) might blow its rivals out of the water – if only it could deliver projects like it delivers regurgitated news.

OPTT stock was swimming with the bottom feeders when the company announced a multimillion-dollar Australian deal in January with the following deceptive headline:

Ocean Power Technologies Announces Funding Agreement With Australian Government For A$66.5 Million Grant

Bam! Shares jumped with the announcement by 52.9 percent in premarket trading to $3.38.

But here’s the deal: OPTT had already announced the grant - five years ago. Here is that headline:

Ocean Power Technologies Wins Funding From The Australian Federal Government

The January press release actually announced Aussie funding from the original grant would be available for phase one and two, plus OPTT would now have to meet more milestones. So this carefully crafted news release isn’t really surprising, positive news at all. The market - eager for a hint of good news - took off and ran with it.

“Fool the investors” works this week, too

Buoyed by previous misleading regurgitated announcements, OPTT tried it again Tuesday.

This time, the regurgitated gem reads:

Ocean Power Technologies Announces Victorian Wave Partners Has Received A$5 Million Initial Grant Funding From Australian Renewable Energy Agency

Many people mistook the announcement to mean that OPTT was getting a fresh batch of funding. The sound of the Australia project apparently finally running toward its power-wave goal - combined with the sound of investors pushing the “buy” function - was truly deafening. 

The stock price exploded almost 9 percent to $4.06.

What was wrong with this announcement? First, the $4.6 million (US dollars) grant was already assumed because execs in March said, Australia, with conditions attached, would fund part of the first phase.

This is not new. And it is not new funding. In fact, the release states that grant revenue will be accounted for later, indicating OPTT doesn’t dare count it now because the company is unlikely to come up with the required matching money.

Second, the misleading headline ignores the real news that OPTT is legally required to disclose in its 8-K, US Securities and Exchange Commission filing. That real news is that the Oregon project is officially Dead Sea debris.

 

The US Department of Energy has terminated the remaining teeny, single-buoy contract with OPTT because the company couldn’t come up with enough money.

 

Key wording in the new SEC filing is: “The Company and the DOE are discussing the steps necessary to close out the project.”

 

OPTT’s bad habit of regurgitating “news” is just another surface wave in a growing tsunami of issues surrounding the company that has been trying since 1994 to turn electricity-generating ocean wave power into a real business.

JAMN Finally Spills the Beans -- And It's an Ugly Mess

by Janice Shell, 6/2/2011 10:32:51 AM

* Editor's Note: Readers can access links to additional backup documents for this story by clicking here for TheStreetSweeper's original investigative report on this company.

Late Tuesday afternoon, after missing earlier deadlines, Jammin Java (OTC: JAMN.OB) filed a long-awaited annual report packed with enough eye-opening news to keep investors up all night. That mandatory filing, unaccompanied with a cheerful press release heralding its arrival, served as a painful wake-up call to shareholders already burned by a rapid plunge in the company’s stock price.

To be sure, the 10-K offered investors little reason to sing. For starters, the filing reveals, this once-hot “coffee company” sells no coffee of its own at all. JAMN relies on a supplier based in frigid Canada – far away from the tropical Jamaican home of its co-founder Rohan Marley – to provide the company with an actual product to sell to its customers instead.

Back in April of 2010, JAMN inked a “supply and toll agreement” with Canterbury Coffee of British Columbia that gave it access to some brew. According to that agreement, JAMN relies on Canterbury to fulfill every role – save a minor one – normally satisfied by a firm that classifies itself as a coffee company. Canterbury purchases the coffee beans. It roasts them. And it then packages them in bags supplied by JAMN – the company’s only real product – for sale to the public.

JAMN signed this deal more than a year ago, right before Shane Whittle – a notorious Vancouver stock promoter – officially resigned as CEO of the company. But the company never mentioned that agreement, seemingly material enough to warrant at least a quiet 8-K report, in a single regulatory filing until now.   

Jammin Java (JAMN): Hot Stock ... Bitter Aftertaste?

by Janice Shell, 6/2/2011 10:30:25 AM

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee! That’s exactly what Jammin Java (OTC: JAMN.OB), a heavily promotedcoffee company, and – for very different reasons – TheStreetSweeper would like investors to do.

Since the beginning of the year, JAMN has miraculously risen from the ashes of the “Grey Market” graveyard to become one of the liveliest – and richest – stocks in the entire microcap arena. JAMN has seen its stock shoot straight toward heaven, soaring from 55 cents to peak above $6 a share on massive daily volume, with its market value nowtopping $355 million despite the company’s limited resources and operating history. (As covered in more detail below, two of the Internet tout sheets pushing JAMN the hardest effectively vanished -- disabled by their Internet servers -- on the day the stock’s trading volume exploded past 20 million shares.) 

JAMN stands out for its powerful connections, the first loudly celebrated by the company and the second – involving a notorious stock promoter – carefully hidden from view.


 

CCME: Few Signs of Life at 'Healthy' Chinese Firm

by Roddy Boyd, 3/23/2011 9:30:34 AM

* Editor's Note: This story has been republished with permission from The Financial Investigator. To access the original article, complete with links to back-up documents, click here.

In the maze of thronged and narrow streets that makes up Fujian province’s capital city of Fuzhou, a deft driver, if he’s willing–as all Chinese drivers apparently are–to nearly kill or injure vast numbers of his countrymen can take you to the foot of Dongjie street. There was little reason to be there save for its having the headquarters of a company called China MediaExpress Holdings (Nasdaq: CCME), an enterprise that seems to be able to weather allegations about its business that would have forced the share price collapse of a company five times its size. The attention of bulls and bears is not misplaced: In a mere four years as a public company, it has apparently come to dominate the ad placement market for leading multinational consumer products companies on a network of what it claims is more than 27,000 buses on Chinese airport and intercity routes.

Also, and this cannot be understated, hanging out on a sidewalk in Fujian–the sidewalks double as parking spots when the streets, which appeared to have been designed in the Han Dynasty, fill up–was not a viable option. There was also the matter of the world-class headache the Financial Investigator was developing from Fuzhou’s diabolical smell, an epic conflation of poor sewage treatment, air pollution and the smell of cabbage that made getting the hell off Dongjie street a matter of vital importance.

The Financial Investigator and his traveling companion for the trip, an American investor with extensive experience in China, decided to head upstairs despite our interview with the CFO having been cancelled at the last minute (with no explanation given.) We thought a quick tour of the offices and meeting a few other executives might open our eyes to a few things.

It did.

Though the language barrier was a little steep with the young receptionist–when we asked for writing paper, she provided Kleenex–we were in short order shown to their conference room and told to wait. It did not escape notice that pride of place in the conference room belonged to a framed certificate of participation from the Fall 2010 Rodman & Renshaw conference, the World Cup for reverse merger companies and the pumpers and touts who peddle them.

Eventually chief operating officer James Yu came down and after spending 30 minutes trying to understand who we were, concluded that giving us a tour wouldn’t hurt. Soon enough, his colleague, Vinne Ye–the chairman’s assistant–came out and took us around.

It was most eye-opening.

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CNBC on TheStreetSweeper's coverage of Gold Resource Corporation: (GORO):
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CNBC on TheStreetSweeper's coverage of Miller Energy Resources: (MILL):
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Herb Greenberg's View (NOG):
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Cramer's View (SWSH): "I wouldn't touch Swisher with a 10-foot PLUNGER!"
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Cramer's View (NOG): "I clearly have been jarred by the accounting issues and feel like, right now, the momentum has left this stock."
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Investors must be properly armed in order to protect themselves against the dangers of Wall Street. To help out, The Street Sweeper has mined the Internet for the most powerful weapons available to investors researching publicly traded companies. In our “Loaded Weapons” section, you’ll find direct links to corporate documents filed with the SEC, conference call transcripts published by Seeking Alpha, insider stock sales tracked by Insider-Monitor.com and popular investment tools offered by Yahoo! Finance. You can also identify the promoters behind current penny stock campaigns – and the compensation they are receiving – by connecting to StockPromoters.com. You can link to other websites that are conducting topnotch stock investigations as well. Click here now.

When investors begin their homework on small-cap companies - particularly on penny stocks - they should probably start with an important history lesson. Specifically, they should conduct background checks on their stockbrokers and the companies those brokers are touting.
 
The Street Sweeper has designed a cheat sheet of sorts to help out with this research. Our “Rap Sheet” section links to a free tool (sponsored by FINRA) that allows ordinary investors to review the backgrounds of individual stockbrokers and their brokerage firms. The section also links to whistleblower cases and class-action lawsuits targeting publicly traded companies. It provides access to recent news of SEC enforcement actions and FBI white-collar crime investigations as well.
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