The Race to Weightlessness

May 29, 2013

  • The world’s most awesome sponge: How our favorite “miracle material” can help sop up oil spills
  • Out of the shadows of 2008: A sector where 90% of the players turned a profit last year… and where Chris Mayer has identified a lucrative niche
  • “I truly didn’t think we were this far along yet”: Patrick Cox on a partnership that will finally bring “personalized medicine” out of the lab and into a doctor’s office
  • Canadian currency adorned with a maple leaf? Sure. Canadian currency scented like maple syrup? Read on…
  • “This person reads The 5?” and other outraged reactions to the guy who fantasizes about running the IRS

  “Maybe one day,” Professor Gao Chao of China’s Zhejiang University tells tech blog Gizmag, “when oil spill occurs, we can scatter them on the sea and absorb the oil quickly.

“Due to its elasticity, both the oil absorbed and the aerogel can be recycled.”

We begin today’s episode with one mind-bending match of the labs: the race to weightlessness.

In 2010, an ultra-light aerogel dubbed “frozen smoke” with a density of 4 milligrams per cubic centimeter lost its 79-year reign of the world’s lightest material to a “micro-lattice material with a density of 0.9 mg/cm3,” says Gizmag.

In less than a year, a material called “aerographite” destroyed the record, with a density of 0.18 mg/cm3.

As of this year, though, a new blue ribbon has been forked out. Enter “aerographene,” weighing in at 0.16 mg/cm3.

More astonishing than being less dense than helium, “aerographene is extremely resilient,” Eric Limer of Gizmodo writes, “and can mop up 900 times its weight in oil, making it potentially indispensable as a cleanup sponge.”

Aside from its vast powers of absorption, it also has potential as, according to Gizmag, “a phase change energy storage insulation material, catalytic carrier or efficient composite.”

It absorbs, it bends, it flexes and shifts… malleable as a piece of paper, rugged as a lumberjack. Graphene has yet to hit the inevitable shelves all across the world. When the tipping point is hit and it finally does flood the markets, a select few companies are set to hit it big. Our own Byron King shows you all about one of them in a free presentation at this link.

  “Stocks slip on Fed uncertainty,” reads the crawl on CNBC — begging the question of why such uncertainty didn’t enter the picture yesterday when the housing and consumer confidence numbers were so rosy.

Good numbers, more likely Fed tightening: That’s the “logic” of the moment, right?

Whatever. In the absence of any market-moving numbers today, the major indexes are all down a little less than 1% as we write.

100  “This is a classic gap that I look to exploit,” says Chris Mayer, eyeing the banking sector.

Yeah, we know. Banks suck. But Chris has been pounding the table for small conservatively managed banks since last fall… and he’s not letting up now.

“2012 was the busiest year for mergers and acquisitions in the last five years, according to SNL Financial,” says Chris. “Last year, there were 241 bank deals announced — a 35% increase over 2011. And the average price-to-tangible book ratio paid was 1.17 times — a healthy 12% increase over the price in 2011.

“So you have insiders willing to pay more than what stock market investors seem willingly to pony up at this point.” That’s the juicy gap Chris is talking about.

What’s more, 90% of all banks were profitable last year. Even in 2009, 70% of banks turned a profit. “A little application of the stock picker’s art,” says Chris, “and you can go far in this industry.”

[Ed note: Chris has zeroed in on a niche of the banking sector that’s proving enormously lucrative. “They aren’t likely to double overnight, but they should deliver a good return without much risk over a three-year period.” Last year, Chris racked up a 32.4% gain playing this niche.

Indeed, his conviction level is so high that 53% of his personal investment account sits in these little-known banking plays. Click on the chart below to see how they’ve crushed the major stock indexes.

“These are some of the market’s best-kept secrets,” says Chris. If you want to get in on the secret, here’s where to begin.]

  Precious metals are treading water this morning — gold at $1,388, silver at $22.33.

  “From this point forward,” our tech arbiter Patrick Cox begins, “the process of sequencing and analyzing genomes will accelerate significantly. This will not only create major revenues; it will move medical science further up the hockey stick portion of the exponential growth curve. More genomic data will spark scientific breakthroughs and effective therapies.

“For the first time, personalized medicine can become common, inexpensive and truly effective.”

Backing up a bit: A while back, we documented Patrick’s limited enthusiasm for “genomic sequencing.” Yes, compared with a decade ago, your own genome can be sequenced in weeks, instead of years, for about $4,000, instead of billions. But by itself, the investment potential is limited.

In tandem with other research, however…

  “We are very close,” Patrick writes by way of update, “to the point when genome sequencing will easily pay for itself by providing actionable information to users. That information might include warning of drug interactions, lifestyle recommendations and supplemental or nutritional advice.”

Patrick announces this on the heels of some uplifting news. One of his companies has just partnered up with “a research group created by leading genomic researchers to collaborate on their shared goal of utilizing genomic information,” Patrick goes on.

“It comprises talent and resources from Harvard, MIT and other organizations that have been involved in the effort to tap power of the genome since the effort began.

“Clearly,” says Patrick, “we should expect recommendations for specific diagnostics based on genetic proclivities that could lead to earlier and more effective disease treatments. For the first time, it will be practical to tailor even basic drug therapies based on individual genomes.

At some point, insurance companies will offer genomic analysis services, because it will keep their customers healthier and save insurers money.

“Honestly, I’m having a hard time processing this development. I truly didn’t think we were this far along yet. This is historic not just for this company,” he concludes, “but for medical science.”

[Ed. note: For the next two days, you can collect the “loyalty rewards” you’ve accumulated as a paying Agora Financial reader. Using these rewards, you can unlock an extraordinary bargain — unlimited access to every stock recommendation we issue. Patrick’s cutting-edge biotech plays. Chris’ special situations. Byron’s lucrative natural resource picks. Neil George’s income recommendations. Jonas Elmerraji’s penny plays.

The credits on your account expire tomorrow night at midnight. To learn how to collect them — and how it could mean a $2,044 check in your mailbox — look here.]

  The Bank of Canada’s olfactory comedy continues. You’ll recall back in January we wrote about Canada’s new plastic bills that melted in the heat.

Now Canada’s central bank has something else to account for.

According to the Daily Mail, “The national treasury released a new plastic bank note in November 2011, and they have received hundreds of emails from residents who are convinced that the bills have an added fragrance.”

What fragrance? A hint of maple syrup, of course.

One citizen’s email read, “‘I would like to know… once and for all if these bills are in fact scented, as I do detect a hint of maple when smelling the bill.'”

Maple syrup — the new scent of money?

Another who didn’t smell anything wrote, “the note… lost its maple smell. I strongly suggest the bank increases the strength of the… maple smell.”

After a freedom of information inquiry, the central bank released documents putting this maple mystery to rest once and for all. Sorry, there’s no added smell.

But the news sparked a poll on NPR’s site…if you could add a scent for U.S. currencies what would it be: apple pie, bacon, chocolate, pine, other.

Let’s not give them any ideas…

  “I continue to be amazed at the lack of reporting by the financial news outlets of this issue,” a reader writes after our coverage of platinum and palladium yesterday.

“It is a big deal.!! Every new car needs this stuff for their catalytic converters. Great work on your part.”

  “I am usually humored by people saying what they would do ‘if’ they ran the IRS,” writes the first of many readers moved to write after an email we shared yesterday.

“Regarding the Democrat versus Republican POV expressed in his thesis, I have usually found the opposite to be true. I always hear about people like Warren Buffett suggesting that income tax rates be raised on high-income people. Yet he has accumulated wealth that results in him not needing any extra income for the rest of his life.

“Not that I’m against wealth accumulation, but I am against the idea of people proposing ideas to hamstring their competition when they have reached escape velocity. Buffett’s comments clearly illustrate the difference between those with wealth versus those that earn a high income.

“As for Republicans: They just happen to be more outspoken against their own ox being gored when it comes to taxes.

“As I see it, the big difference is: Do I pay for what I get, or do I have my neighbor pay for me to get?

“(After reading some recent letters about complaints that it takes longer than five minutes to read each of these 5-Min. Forecasts, I’ll wrap it up quickly.)

“I would propose that the best solution for tax policy being discussed is the fair tax. It eliminates the worst problems of the current system, without causing market distortions. And it would eliminate the concept of having tax-exempt organizations, since there would never be the need to have such a determination being made again. It would also be the most transparent system available, since all the tax paid would be directly stated at the bottom of the purchase receipt.”

  “Seems your reader who wants to run the IRS and thinks most conservatives and Republicans need to be audited by the IRS because they tend to cheat more or are opposed to taxes comes from the Pauline Kael school of logic,” writes a reader invoking an infamous quotation by the late New Yorker film critic.

“He doesn’t seem to know any Republicans since all his friends are Democrats and assumes all the bad attitudes toward conservatives and Republicans are true. A look into the mind of most liberal-minded bureaucrats! By the way, what is wrong with being opposed to increasing taxes?”

  “Have you ever read someone’s comment that had so much wrong with it that you didn’t know where to begin?” writes another. “And even if you did, you weren’t sure how to end? This person reads The 5?

“OK, I can’t resist… does it really make sense that those who, at the very least, ‘hate taxes’ less are the ones who are ‘more honest and socially conscious when it comes to money and taxes’? Since when have our monetary policy and tax code been either honest or exhibited a modicum of social consciousness? Is it more dishonest to rail against fiscal slavery or simply toe the line because of some misguided ‘moral’ principle?

“For the record, I’m neither Democrat nor Republican, and certainly enjoy the treasure gleaned from the Laissez Faire Club.”

  “A few people will lose their jobs, Congress will hold hearings, design commissions, issue reports, slap a wrist or two and then it will be back to business as usual,” writes one of our regulars, forecasting the ultimate outcome of the IRS scandal.

“This is just another distraction in the grander theme of reducing civil liberties, and the growth of greater government control of the people and business overall.

“Just watch how this unfolds. There will end up being more control and new regulations over the nonprofits and political advocates, rather than the restructuring and reduction in power of the IRS. The community as a whole will suffer. Not a government agency.”

The 5: What he said…


Dave Gonigam
The 5 Min. Forecast

P.S. Steve Sarnoff is on a roll. After telling his Options Hotline readers to collect 103% gains playing rising Treasury rates, he issued another sell recommendation this morning. Result: 47% gains in a little over a month playing skidding shares of Facebook.

It’s why we keep saying even if you’ve never played options before, you could make money on your very first trade.


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