For shareholders of Bioexx Specialty Proteins (TSX:BXI), it might seem like a decade ago that the company’s share price was over the two-dollar mark. It has, in fact, been less than a year.
To says the months in between have been trying would be understating the matter. Today, with Bioexx’s shares trading at just $.175 cents, the company began to auction off equipment it has taken a huge loss on. In an online auction conducted by Markham’s Asset Services Inc., Bioexx offered, among other items: “100’s of stainless steel ball, butterfly and knife valves”, “13 High Pressure Stainless Steel Extractors and Hoppers from 13 to 792 USG Capacity” “2 Urschel Grinders” and a “2010 Alfa-Laval Foodec 500 75 HorsePower Decanter.”
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The impairment expense of the equipment, plus various related expenses such as three patents the company has chosen to abandon, added up to a carrying value of $9,620,972. This write down was clearly the biggest reason Bioexx’s losses leapt to $30.11-million from $14.9-million in fiscal 2010. With just over $18-million in cash and short term investments in the bank as of last December 31st, the company can ill afford to have 2012 play out the way 2011 did. Bioexx says it expects to recover just $355,800 from today’s sale of assets.
Bioexx CEO Chris Schnarr, however, contends all is not lost. In a statement accompanying the company’s fiscal 2011 numbers, March 30th, he said Bioexx is “…executing well on our strategy. We improved and stabilized our technology, and then confirmed it as to efficacy, scalability and economics. Our products are stronger, and our markets remain robust.” Still, the company is hedging its bets; in December Bioexx hired Canaccord Genuity to find “…a partner that can leverage the company’s intellectual property and extensive operating knowledge of food-grade canola protein.”
Toronto-based Bioexx rose to prominence because it developed a patented system that used refrigerant-based solvents to extract protein from plants. Until recently, the technology for extracting the protein from a plant wasn’t practical because the process required temperatures in excess of 100°C. When proteins are exposed to temperatures above 65°C they begin to denature, which reduces their nutritive value. Bioexx began commercial production of canola protein isolates at its flagship facility in Saskatoon early last summer. But, almost from the outset, the company faced delays in bringing the plant online, and generated only modest revenue from canola oil and canola meal sales.