Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Richard Branson Investing in Cord Blood, Should You?

Richard Branson, of Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic Airways fame, is now getting into the cord blood business, by setting up Virgin Health, a cord blood bank. So what is a cord blood bank, you ask? Well first, they aren't involved in the sub-prime market.

Cord blood is blood that comes from umbilical cords, and contains an extensive amount of hematopoietic stem cells. The blood is kept in depositories called blood banks. Cord blood stem cells are considered far superior to stem cells from bone marrow. Many parents have their newborn's cord blood preserved in the event it may be needed at some point in the future for treatment of their child's or the child's sibling's cancer or genetic disease. Over 75 diseases have been treated with cord blood. For a lot more detail on cord blood and how it is collected, stored, and used, go to CordBloodStocks.com.

There are a couple ways to invest in the cord blood industry, the cord blood banks and the companies that use cord blood to develop cures. Here are several stocks that participate in the cord blood business. Please note, most of these companies have low market caps and are extremely speculative.

Cord Blood America Inc. (CBAI.OB) One of the cord blood bankers, this Los Angeles company is involved in the collection, testing, processing, and preservation of the blood from umbilical cords for use in future stem cell therapy. They own the Cord Partners umbilical cord blood banking company. Negative earnings, P/S is 1.7. Quarterly revenue growth year over year is 177%. Negative book value.

ThermoGenesis (KOOL) This California company designs, makes, and sells automated blood processing systems for the manufacture, preservation, and delivery of cell therapies. They are involved in a joint venture with GE Healthcare, a unit of General Electric Company (GE) to distribute the AXP(TM) AutoXpress Platform, a closed and automated system for harvesting mononuclear cells from cord blood. P/S 13.6. Quarterly revenue growth year over year is 18.8%.

Cryo-Cell International (CCEL.OB) This is a Florida based cord blood stem cell bank, specializing in the family market. P/S is 1.7. Quarterly revenue growth year over year is 15.2%.

ViaCell (VIAC) This Cambridge, Massachusetts company sells ViaCord, a product which is used to preserve baby's umbilical cord blood. They also research and other therapeutic uses of umbilical cord blood-derived and adult-derived stem cells. Negative earnings, P/S is 3.9. Quarterly revenue growth year over year is 25.9%.

Celgene (CELG) This New Jersey company is involved in the discovery, production, and marketing of therapies designed to treat cancer and immune-inflammatory-related diseases. They own LifeBank USA, a cord blood bank. P/E is 316, P/S is 21. Quarterly revenue growth year over year is 84.1%. Quarterly earnings growth year over year is 483%.

Author does not own any of the above.

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