Market Pulse:
Hoku Scientific shares soar on two upbeat broker notes

Shares of Hoku Scientific Inc. soared $1.51, or 24.7% to $7.63 in afternoon trading Thursday after two brokers started coverage on the company with an outperform rating. Piper Jaffray analyst Jesse Pichel said Hoku is one of the best-positioned component suppliers to the emerging fuel cell industry. Pichel said its proprietary technology has the potential to enable lower cost and better performing fuel cells, thus improving commercial viability. The analyst estimates Hoku is working in a stationary and automotive fuel cell market worth around $150 million in 2005, rising to around $2.6 billion by 2012. Over at Thomas Weisel Partners, analyst Kevin Monroe said the company will benefit from increased investment in alternative energy such as fuel cells because of high oil prices, political instability in oil-producing regions and increased efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Both brokers noted the company is benefiting from key funding development from companies such as Nissan or Sanyo, that are interested in Hoku’s technology. As a result, the company is in a stable financial situation.

Two completely out of the blue coverages for little known Hoku Scientific?
On the same day?
Didn’t this company Just IPO in July?
Yes I see that it did.
Here is the chart:

Normally I do not follow stocks like these and in fact I seldom even know about them. So why am I bothering writing about this? A quick look at who was involved in the IPO might answer that question (with thanks to BC on Silicon Investor for pointing it out to me). Let’s take a look:

PROSPECTUS

Until _____ , 2005, all dealers that effect transactions in these securities, whether or not participating in the offering, may be required to deliver a prospectus. This is in addition to the dealers’ obligation to deliver a prospectus when acting as underwriters and with respect to their unsold allotments or subscriptions.

The underwriters named below have agreed to buy, subject to the terms of the purchase agreement, the number of shares listed opposite their names below. Piper Jaffray & Co. is acting as book-running manager for the offering and, together with SG Cowen & Co., LLC and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC, is acting as representative of the underwriters. The underwriters are committed to purchase and pay for all of the shares if any are purchased, other than those shares covered by the over-allotment option described below.

Piper Jaffray
SG Cowen & Co.
Thomas Weisel Partners LLC

Gee, Who coulda possibly thunk that?
That chart is rather interesting too.
Look at the volume.

As usual Mish has some questions:

  1. How many shares of Hoku Scientific do Piper Jaffray, and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC each have?
  2. Gaps up three days in a row. Who knew that coverage would be initiated at “outperform”?
  3. With a volume of over 7.5 million shares on each of the last two days someone had to know in advance that this was coming didn’t they?
  4. Who told who what?
  5. How many shares did Piper Jaffray and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC buy in the last week or so?
  6. How many shares did Piper Jaffray and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC sell into this spike?
  7. What are the odds of two random upgrades on the same day on an obscure stock like Hoku?
  8. When is the SEC going to look into this kind of activity?
  9. Better yet, when is the SEC going to stop any possible improprieties from occurring simply by not allowing firms to have a vested interest in the companies they rate? Note: I asked nearly the same question about Moody’s and Fitch here.

Seriously, when is the SEC going to put an end to this kind of nonsense?

Mike Shedlock / Mish/