* Act I: All aboard The Player: Railpower Technologies Corp. (TSX:P) Recent Price: $1.74 Action: Up 287 per cent or $1.29 in less than two months 52-week high: $6.67 (Jan. 16, 2006) 52-week low: $0.45 (Nov. 15, 2006) With a broken financing deal, a tanking share price and a contract on the books losing a projected $20 million, this transportation technology company looked like it was destined for the wreckage yard.
But faith and persistence paid off, and since its low a couple of months ago, the stock is chugging its way back up.
In mid-November, a major customer agreed to accelerate contract-payment terms on Railpower's locomotives, subject to certain conditions.
Next, Railpower arranged to get out of that $20-million losing deal, paying an unnamed customer approximately $1.1 million to nix the contract.
Then, in late December, the company announced it had obtained U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certification for a unique road-switcher locomotive that saves fuel and reduces emissions. An accomplishment in itself, that also satisfies one of the conditions in the November customer agreement to accelerate payments.
As it climbs its way back out of the pits, this might just turn into the little company that could.
* Act II: More cheese, please The player: Cossette Communication Group Inc. (TSX:KOS) Recent Price: $10.70 Action: Up 48 per cent or $3.49 in less than one month 52-week high: $11 (Dec. 28, 2006) 52-week low: $7.21 (Dec. 4, 2006) Do you have a grown child living with you? If so, you might have appreciated the humour in Cossette's "Stop cooking with cheese" ad campaign for the Dairy Farmers of Canada that featured parents wondering how to get their children to move out.
In spite of the ads being successful enough to embed the catchphrase in Canadian culture, the Dairy Farmers cancelled the campaign, saying the most recent ad, "Protection," drew complaints from some who called it mean-spirited and anti-family.
The "goud-a" news for Cossette is that they got to re-pitch to the Dairy Farmers, and have been shortlisted with three other agencies to develop a replacement campaign. A final decision is expected in February.
* Act III: Calling all cars The player: Kangaroo Media Inc. (TSX:KTV) Recent Price: $3.58 Action: Attempting a recovery from its 76-per-cent slide in less than a year 52-week high: $8.30 (May 9, 2006) 52-week low: $2 (Dec. 7, 2006) Disney and Pixar gave us an inside peek into the world of race cars, albeit fictional, in the animated hit Cars. But Montreal's Kangaroo TV, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kangaroo Media, has done one better, bringing spectators inside the heads of real-life racers.
Now attendees of NASCAR events can use the company's handheld device, the NASCAR Nextel FanView, to watch and hear the race on their own screens while at the track.
A user can choose feeds from cameras mounted inside selected cars, listen in on conversations between drivers and their crews, as well as see real-time race stats.
In its Nov. 13, 2006 issue, Time Magazine touted the device as one of the year's best inventions.
Unfortunately, the market hasn't loved the stock as much as Time loved the FanView. Maybe if the device covered curling games, too, that'd be a different story.
* Act IV: Pass the Bull's-Eye The player: Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. (TSX:BNC) Recent Price: $1.97 Action: Up 153 per cent or $1.19 in less than two weeks (from $0.78 on Dec. 21, 2006) 52-week high: $1.99 (Jan. 2, 2007) 52-week low: $0.60 (Oct. 16, 2006) Moo if you love beef, because Bioniche has just made eating it a lot safer.
The company developed an E. coli O157:H7 cattle vaccine in partnership with the University of British Columbia, the Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Organization at the University of Saskatchewan and the Alberta Research Council.
It has recently received authorization from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to distribute it to Canadian veterinarians.
But the benefits may not stop at meat-eaters.
E. coli O157:H7 is the same toxic bacterium that was found in spinach and other produce in North America in 2005. How did it get there? Guess what is commonly used as fertilizer for crop production, and you may be washing your produce more diligently from now on.
Bioniche's four-year studies show that cattle that have had this vaccine shed significantly less of the deadly bacteria in their manure.
Now that calls for a good ol' burger with extra lettuce.
(The above is not intended as investment advice to buy or sell any mentioned securities. Investors should do due diligence before investing. Quotes are based on results through Jan. 2, 2007.)
(Nicole Strandlund can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)