What's smaller than a penny stock? Mera
The company's price falls to half a penny a share
Mera Pharmaceuticals Inc., the Kona-based producer of nutritional supplements made from microalgae, isn't even a penny stock anymore.
Shares of the company, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2002, hit an all-time low yesterday when they fell more than 44 percent to half a penny. The stock closed below 1 cent for the first time last week. Its highest close ever was $2.25 in March 2000.
"We have no control over what people do, but the stock recently has been trending down on light volume, which in essence means there are a few sellers and there doesn't happen to be any buyers at this point," Chief Executive Gregory Kowal said.
Formerly known as Aquasearch Inc., Mera competes with Cyanotech Corp. on the Big Island. Mera, which has five full-time employees, makes three AstaFactor products consisting of astaxanthin, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Cyanotech, which unlike Mera is profitable, also has struggled and has been warned that its stock will be delisted from the Nasdaq SmallCap Market if its shares don't reach $1 for 10 consecutive days by Nov. 27. Cyanotech's stock closed yesterday at 68 cents.
Mera, traded on the lesser-regarded Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board, reported a fiscal second-quarter loss of $160,517 on Tuesday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although its loss was narrower than the $234,523 it lost in the year-earlier quarter, Mera's sales slumped 36 percent to $69,450 from $108,706 a year ago.
"If we had proper financing to help us along with some of the things we'd like to do, we probably would have an outside chance of becoming cash-flow break even by year end, but that's a big 'if' obviously," Kowal said. "We've always been able to raise capital in the past and I don't see why we can't do it going forward."
In its filing, Mera attributed the sales decline to $23,000 received a year ago from a now-completed U.S. Department of Energy contract and a large $30,000 order from a wholesale distributor that was not repeated last quarter.
"With the contract that we had go away, we lost a lot of momentum in the second quarter, and it's taken us awhile to regain our footing," Kowal said. "But I think going forward we are starting to gain momentum again, and probably after another quarter, we should be back to a point where we'll start to see some growth in the company."
Mera, which has lost $5.4 million since coming out of bankruptcy, had just more than $13,000 in cash and cash equivalents at the end of last quarter, according to its filing.