Amyris downgraded; stock hits new record low


by richardbrenneman, from Eats Shoots ‘n Leaves

Amyris, the UC-Berkeley-spawned, Bill Gates-backed genetic engineering company that failed at its efforts to produce a cheaper antimalarial drug, then failed to produce cost-effective agrofuels, the news just doesn’t get better.

Today the stock hit yet another all-time low, $5.80, down from a high of $385 just over a year ago.

In the latest bad news for the company, the popular investor website Motley Fool has stopped tracking the company’s stock on its CAPS program, which “pools the resources of the Motley Fool Community to help you identify the best stocks at the best times to buy them.”

The website announced today:

Synthetic biology company Amyris (Nasdaq: AMRS), meanwhile, is down more than 40% after management revised guidance. The company will not achieve positive free cash flow in 2012, and needs to raise additional equity financing. Amyris didn’t pass the screen this month, and will be removed from the CAPS tracking page.

The announcement follows recent downgrades of the company by raters at Deutsche BankPiper Jaffray, and Morgan Stanley.

Wonder if Senator Diane Feinstein’s spouse, megamillionaire and University of California Regent Richard Blum, has sold the million dollars worth of shares he bought back in September, 2010?

The stock buy came just weeks before the Department of Energy gave Amyris a $24.3 million grant to build a demonstration plant to prove its genetically tweaked microbes could eat cellulose and pee fuel on a commercial basis.

But, heck, for Blum and his chum a million’s a drop in the bucket [PDF}.

For a look at Amyris in slightlier palmier days, here a video of the companies Lubricants and Fuels President Jim Richardson conducted by Kym MacNicholas of Forbes back in August:

And here’s a very interesting video featuring Secretary of Energy Steve Chu, touting the wonders of Amyris last 1 March as the keynote speaker at the national Energy Summit sponsored by DOE’s research arm, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy [ARPA-E]. The very brief section begins at 3:13, where he discusses DOE-funded energy centers, including the UC-Berkeley-based Joint BioEnergy Institute, which just happens to be headed by Amyris founder Jay Keasling, a former associate of Chu’s back when the secretary headed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Though Keasling’s no longer on the Amyris payroll, you’ll note that the federally funded institute he now heads has provided technology to the company he once headed.

Oh, as for the plant to produce bus fuel? It’s been shelved.

So let’s close with a song appropriate to our tale.