For some strange reason

By Frank Buhagiar on Monday 4 December 2023

For some strange reason
Image source: For some strange reason
CommentaryFoodTech Investment

Food on the Move: FFF’s weekly roundup of listed FoodTech’s movers & shakers

Strange week for FFF’s listed foodtech space.  Not because share price fallers outnumbered risers over the course of the week ended Friday 1 December 2023 – 25 fallers; 17 risers; three non-movers.  More weekly fallers than risers – par for the course this past month. This past year for that matter.  No, strange because some of the individual share price movements have been well…just…strange.

Look no further than Biotalys – shares near enough doubled to €3.57. Takeover? No.  Game-changing contract? Guess again.  Forecast-busting results? Nope. Strategic Review? Now, we’re talking.  So, what came out of the Strategic Review? Company putting itself up for sale? Strike one.  Joint venture of some sort?  Strike two.  Some other form of corporate activity? Strike three.  Clue is in the title of the company’s press release: Biotalys Provides Company Update.  Pretty nondescript for a strategic review.  Similar story with the bullet points at the top of the release:

  • “Progress to next-generation AGROBODY™ technology platform
  • Update on product pipeline and regulatory review for EVOCA™(**)
  • CSO Dr. Carlo Boutton to drive all research and early development while Dr. Eva Van Hende to head regulatory and field development; COO Luc Maertens and CBO Patrick McDonnell leaving the company”

Nondescript again. Then there’s the opening para: “The review leads to a shift to the second-generation AGROBODY™ technology to develop protein-based biocontrols for crop and food protection. This move to AGROBODY 2.0 entails organizational changes to concentrate resources on core R&D capabilities while focusing on obtaining registration for Biotalys’ first product candidate EVOCA.” Enough there for a 100% share price rise?

Maybe CEO Kevin Helash’s comment had something to do with it: “As an organization focused on creating sustainable crop protection products, we need to deliver on two fronts: one, to roll out the next-generation AGROBODY technology, which we believe will increase potency and efficacy of our bioactive agents with multiple modes of action while lowering cost of goods per hectare, allowing for a broader market penetration of our biocontrol products. And two, to ensure that the organization is set up to operate with a laser-like focus on execution while prudently managing costs.” Exciting to a point, but shoot the lights out stuff? Sorry, not convinced.  Perhaps all will become clear in the next week or so. A broker recommendation or two? A round of insider buys? Or a corporate deal? Or what about an equity raise? One to watch.  For now, can’t get passed strange.

Biotalys, exhibit one in the strange stakes.  Exhibit two – Oatly. Shares in the oat drink co. up 34% on…zero news. Oatly’s share price has form though when it comes to big moves. -17%; +38.5%; -14%; +52.5%; -7%; +34% - that’s how the shares have performed in each of the last six weeks, at times on little or no news.  What price next week’s Food on the Move reports a double-digit decline for Oatly? Stranger things have happened…

And Exhibit Three, old poster child Beyond Meat (BYND) up 12% on the week.  As with Oatly, no regulatory news out.  Although Time Out did run a piece titled: Beyond Meat pepperoni is now available on Pizza Hut pizzas across the UK. Good for a 12% share price though?  Not sure about that.  And that’s not all.  The Motley Fool published Beyond Meat Stock Has Passed Its "Sell By" Date. 2 Reasons You Should Get Out. The article goes on to say: “This former growth stock is likely beyond repair…Beyond Meat (BYND 3.84%) was a high-flying stock before and after the pandemic as consumers saw its plant-based meat as a healthy alternative to traditional meat products. Unfortunately for shareholders, the 2022 bear market wiped out most of the company's value as investors turned on money-losing stocks. Consequently, Beyond Meat has fallen 97% from its all-time high…a trend that looks increasingly like a death spiral.” YIKES.  And yet…and yet…the shares end the week up 12%.  See, strange week…