Graphene Stocks Continue Going Nowhere Fast
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We’re firmly convinced that retail investors can avoid most bag holder pitfalls by not investing in companies unless they have meaningful revenues. Too often we see exciting stories being spun that never come to fruition. For whatever reason, investors are attracted to growth stories like moths to a flame, and nothing gets the attention of hopeful investors more than some miraculous material – like graphene.
It’s coming up on two years since we published our guide to investing in graphene stocks which concluded with the following statement:
If you’re a company that’s involved in graphene, you need to show investors the money. That means you need to have meaningful revenues and consistent quarterly revenue growth tied to the sale of commercial products or services that relate to graphene. Investors are tired of promises.Credit: Nanalyze, June 2020
Perhaps what’s most incredible about graphene is just how many companies try to use its appeal to attract investors by claiming to be on the cusp of graphene greatness. Like fusion, the success of this miracle nanomaterial is always just around the corner. Let’s start this update by looking at the four most popular graphene stocks, all of which trade across the pond. (We’re using U.S. dollars for the entirety of this article unless stated otherwise.)
The Big Four Graphene Stocks
The “big” four graphene stocks aren’t so big anymore, commanding a collective market cap of around less than 150 million British pounds (around $187 million greenbacks).
We wouldn’t touch a firm with a market cap of less than a billion dollars, and we especially wouldn’t invest in a firm unless they’ve been able to achieve meaningful revenues which we defined as at least $10 million per annum. One graphene company actually achieved that feat, but their success was short lived.
Let’s start with the company that showed the most promise that last time we looked – Versarien (VRS.L). With 2019 revenues of $11.4 million, the company had finally achieved meaningful revenues, and the share price was rewarded accordingly. Optimism was in the air as shareholders clung to management’s claim that graphene’s greatness had finally arrived. Then, this happened:
We’re not interested in hearing about the memorandums of understanding that never came to fruition, or supply chain impacts from the Rona, or whatever excuse de jour this $38 million company is peddling investors who have seen shares lose 75% of their value over the past several years. What you can be sure of is that Versarien will do what all graphene companies do when they realize this miracle material can’t achieve product-market fit. They’ll throw more money at it which will come in the form of share price dilution and/or debt. The latest financials talk about how Versarien has acquired “Spanish graphene manufacturing assets” and purchased “equipment to scale up ink production capacity.” Something tells us that production capacity isn’t what’s limiting the company’s growth.
If we had a pound for every time a graphene company talked about increasing capacity, we’d probably have more money than Applied Graphene Materials (AGM.L) which realized a whopping $153,082 in 2021 revenues. With a market cap of just $15 million, it’s not worth spending any time talking about what they’ve been up to. We’d rather look at why Directa Plus (DCTA.L) has suddenly started showing some signs of revenue life. Below, you can see how their revenues have been growing consistently over the past several years.
While the company hasn’t quite hit the meaningful revenue mark yet, the steady consistent revenue growth implies that this might happen sooner than later. If you’re interested in what the company does, our past piece on The Long Road to Graphene Commercialization talks about the primary areas of commercial graphene applications they’re focused on.
That leaves us with the last of the big four – Haydale – which is like Versarien in that the revenue trend is heading in the wrong direction.
That’s great they’re reigning in costs, but that’s optional. You cannot claim to be disrupting any space without having the revenue growth to back it. We’re not interested in hearing about why Haydale can’t grow revenues, nor are we interested in hearing when they expect growth to happen. Show us the money and we’ll come back around for another look.
What all these graphene stocks have in common is that they’re extremely small which means they’re also extremely risky. Putting aside the lack of meaningful revenues for a moment, we wouldn’t invest in any of them unless they’re able to achieve a market cap of one billion dollars and a reasonable valuation based on our simple valuation ratio. As for other graphene companies out there, we believe they come with even more risks.
All Other Graphene Companies
Back in 2014, we published a piece titled Is Graphene 3D Labs a $40 Million Company? which resulted in a firestorm of accusations, like this one from a certain Paul M Gill of (previously of Lomiko Metals) who proceeded to attack us from every possible angle because we suggested that investing in graphite miners was not a viable way to invest in graphene.
A word of warning. There is no proof that Nanalyze has any real qualified analysts at all. It appears they simply put out reports to manipulate stocks to cover their shorts of companies their clients have made. Is Nanalyze compliant with SEC and OSC regulations? I think its time to investigate this site to find out who is behind it.Comments on Nanalyze
Fortunately, all these comments and conversations are in the public domain, and everyone can read what was said for themselves. And for the record, we never short companies. Ever.
This isn’t about pointing out that people like Gary Andersen – who touted Graphene 3D Labs and is nowhere to be seen – failed spectacularly when making statements about Graphene 3D labs like, “they look to be in the lead in commercialization of graphene-enhanced materials by EOY and once sales begin, you won’t touch this stock for under $1.50.” Nor is it about criticizing Mr. Gill for not being able to create shareholder value for the companies he’s been affiliated with and coming at us like we’re a bunch of delusional morons. In fact, we think he’s done his job remarkably well. As CEO, your primary mandate is to keep your business funded and operational. As they teach you in business school, the ultimate goal of every business is to survive, and Lomiko Metals still exists today, basking in the grandeur of its $13 million market cap.
As for Graphene 3D Labs, last year it was renamed to G6 Materials (GGG.V). Today, this “world leader in creating value through the development of innovative graphene-based solutions” has a market cap of just $11.5 million and a trickle of revenues that are on the decline. And that’s without taking into account whatever massive dilution has taken place over these years as this turd tries to stay afloat. How small companies like this manage to survive is beyond us.
CORRECTION 4/29/2022: G6 Materials has revenues that are slowly increasing over time, not declining. In 2021 they saw less than $2 million in revenues which was a 100% plus increase over the less than $1 million realized in the three years prior. It’s been eight years since we looked at this firm and were told by their CEO (now co-CEO of G6 materials) on January 1, 2014 at 5:11 PM that “Graphene Labs has well-equipped R&D facility, expertise in graphene and more then 6000 customers worldwide.” If that statement was true, then this firm has indeed accomplished very little in eight years, not to mention the languishing share price and miniscule market cap.
In researching this piece, we noted any number of companies out there like G6 Materials that are peddling the same old worn-out “graphene is the future” stories about how they’re a world leader on the cusp of greatness. One such company is Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG.V), a $238 million Canadian firm that realized a whopping $55,636 in the last half of 2021. Incredibly, they seem to think it’s appropriate to tell the world how much they’re focusing on investor relations in press releases (including paid research reports) while they dilute shareholders by issuing shares hand over fist.
- Balance at 1 July 2020: 5,768,589
- Balance at 31 December 2020: 7,667,371
- Balance at 31 December 2021: 29,072,404
Diluting shareholders and paying for research reports are just several red flags that help us identify companies that eventually end up with many disappointed bag holders.
It’s hard to imagine anyone would want to invest in any company touting the promise of graphene after the industry has seen a decade of failures. Investors are best served to avoid joining the group wank of pre-revenue promises on offer from so many graphene firms out there. If you’re someone who made the mistake of getting involved somehow, just walk away. We’ve been researching companies like this for decades and the outcome is always the same.
Unless a company has traction in the form of meaningful revenues, it’s not worth wasting any time on. None of this get in early FOMO YOLO rubbish. And as we saw with Versarien, simply hitting the $10 million mark isn’t enough. You need to show sustained quarterly revenue growth over time. (With U.K. companies, that’s difficult to monitor as they only provide updates twice a year.) Whenever one of these graphene companies manages to do that, maybe we’ll come back and take another look at the thesis. If you absolutely take a punt here, then Directa Plus is probably the one worth looking at just based on the consistent revenue growth we’re starting to see.
There’s a strong contingent of investors – especially across the pond – who still cling on the promise of graphene. With all the exciting disruptive technologies out there, there’s an opportunity cost associated with figuring out why the promise of graphene remains just that – a promise. We’ll continue checking in with the graphene story every several years until the thesis starts to have legs, or until investors realize that investing in stories is a surefire way to lose money over time.