Borealis!!!
Published on August 02, 2005

Well, it worked


Well, it worked. 
 
The little motor that could – did.  It drove an Air Canada widebody around the tarmac like a golf cart.
 
Those of you who could afford to gamble with this stock as suggested here over the years are likely to be nicely rewarded.  Those of you who did not take the plunge might still want to consider it. 
 
[Note:  The stock is VERY thinly traded.  Do NOT place a “market” order.  If you do buy any, place a “limit” order at or not too far above the quoted asking price.  Quotes can be found in the Pink Sheets.]
 
But let me start from the specific and work outward.
 

Yesterday morning, Boeing announced the results of their test.  In part:

 

In June, the Phantom Works/Chorus Motors team, in cooperation with Air Canada, installed an electric motor drive on an Air Canada 767 and conducted a series of successful tests. Air Canada pilots performed ground maneuvers on slopes and terrains typical of those at airports around the world, including driving in reverse from a gate and taxiing forward to a runway. Tests also were performed at ramp temperatures exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit and at loads of up to 94 percent of the maximum takeoff weight for the airplane.

 


There are several ramifications, it seems to me.
 
The first is that Borealis stock, which long-time readers of this column bought mainly at around $3.50, and which had bubbled up to around $11 in recent months, closing at $12.30 last night, should be an interesting speculation at least up to $100 a share.  At that price, the company would be valued at $500 million (5 million shares at $100 each).
 
The WheelTug business alone could be worth that much.  After all, jets don’t come cheap.  If you were about to buy a dozen of them, would you want the kind can drive around the airport like a golf cart, or the old-fashioned kind?  Boeing, it seems to me, may gain a significant competitive advantage by being able to offer this – picking up the occasional $2 billion order it might otherwise have lost to Airbus. 
 
And what about retrofitting thousands of existing jets with this system?  There’s no guarantee it can be done economically, but there are certainly incentives to try.  You no longer need to pay a guy to back you out from the gate – or wait for him to arrive if he’s busy tugging a different jet.  (Time is money in the airline business.)  You no longer have to burn fuel while you’re taxiing around O’Hare, seventeenth in line for takeoff.  You even save on wear and tear to those big expensive engines of yours – extending the time between each mandatory maintenance overhaul.  You cut down on noise.  You cut down on pollution. 
 
So while there are surely risks (read on), just this Wheel Tug subsidiary of the Chorus Motors subsidiary of Borealis could be worth $500 million all by itself.
 
But listen: If it can drive a 767, might it not be able to drive a forklift?  Or an elevator? 
 
How about a car? 
 
It’s much to soon to do more than guess at the potential.  But if Nitromed can be valued by the market at $730 million, as it was last night – a company whose sole product is the combination of two generic drugs priced at six times the cost of the generics separately – is it too much of a stretch to imagine that a revolutionary electric motor technology could be worth even more?
 
And that’s just the Chorus Motors subsidiary of Borealis.
 
Now that we know it is for real, one imagines that there just might be something to the preposterous claims and patents of the company’s other subsidiaries – Power Chips, Cool Chips, and Avto Metals, each of which purports to be revolutionary – and perhaps even to its claims of a billion-dollar iron ore deposit conveniently located by what could be a deep water port on the East Coast of Canada.
 
So you could imagine – and I stress “imagine” – how one day this company might sport a $5 billion market cap.
 
That would make it one-fourth as valuable as the Gap (which is saying something, because humans would be half naked if it weren’t for the Gap), a third as valuable as Wrigley Chewing Gum (which is also saying something, because who doesn’t love gum?), and give it a market cap less about 1.5% that of GE (which wrote the book on electric motors and just about everything else).
 
I’m not saying Borealis will ever sport a $5 billion market cap ($1,000 a share), just that I can imagine someone looking at the stock if it ever gets to $100 and thinking, “Hmm.  It’s a crapshoot, but there’s a chance for a tenfold gain.  I think I’ll give it a shot.”  Which is why someone in his right mind might pay $100.
 
Now for the caveats.  I personally think these results from Boeing speak volumes and that the stock will go much higher.  But this is no Treasury bond!  And my view may be colored by owning a load of shares myself.  (Never underestimate the power of wishful thinking.)
 
The company is incorporated in Gibraltar, for crying out loud!  It does not file with the S.E.C.  It could face all manner of technical frustrations, reliability issues, patent infringements, personnel defections, and mean-spirited competition.  Management could do incredibly dumb things.   Or maybe there’s some underlying scam – not in the technology, which now seems to have some validity, but in the corporate governance.  Maybe Gibraltar will send its army in to nationalize Borealis.
 

Optimist that I am, I think it’s also possible that this wildly unorthodox company will one day come in from the cold, with S.E.C. filings and normal stock exchange listings.  None of that should be as difficult as moving a jumbo jet with an electric motor.



© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 Andrew Tobias