(Street Life is a regular feature focusing on what's playing in the stock market.)
* ACT I: The Bomb Railpower Technologies (TSX:P) $2.31 Down 64.5 per cent (year to date).
Railpower produces environmentally friendly locomotives, affectionately known as Green Goats, to the railway industry. Unfortunately, the Green Goats have failed to befriend shareholders this year. The latest selloff was triggered when Montreal-based Railpower said it was cutting its production target for 2006 from 90 to 100 locomotives to 50 to 65 units, citing customer-related delays in the delivery of 10 of its hybrid yard locomotives. Railpower's shares have been derailed as the company continues to absorb major losses. For the first quarter ending March 31, Railpower reported a net loss of $8.7 million compared to a loss of $5.3 million in the year-ago period.
* ACT II: The New Math Merge Cedara ExchangeCo Ltd. (TSX:MRG) $6.79 Down 48.7 per cent (one-day selloff on news).
Merge seems to have come down with a bad case of Nortel-itis. In other words, the company is suffering from a not-so-rare mathematical ailment that has also plagued Nortel Networks (TSX:NT) in recent years. And stockholders showed no mercy when the company said it would be restating earnings, adding that its financial statements from 2002 to 2005 could not be relied upon. It is also conducting an internal investigation of its accounting and financial disclosure. If that isn't enough to spook investors, the company's Nasdaq listing is also under review and may be in jeopardy. The Milwaukee-based company provides IT software solutions to the medical imaging industry.
* ACT III: The Hostile Bid Hummingbird Ltd. (TSX:HUM) $31.65 Up 25.3 per cent (year to date).
Just when you thought another great Canadian technology success story would wind up being quietly carted off to the U.S., a Canadian company has upped the ante and precipitated a bidding war for Hummingbird. Open Text (TSX:OTC) is making a hostile pitch for Hummingbird, offering an all-cash deal worth $27.75 US. That's $1 more than California-based Symphony Technology Group offered for the Toronto-based software company with a friendly offer in May. While Hummingbird shareholders were delighted to have the pot sweetened, Open Text shareholders weren't impressed, knocking $1 off the share price, a 6.2-per-cent drop.
* ACT IV: The Red Flag Biovail Corp. (TSX:BVF) $25.79 Down 5.25 per cent (one-day selloff).
There's nothing like a report of insider selling to crank up shareholder anxiety. The market turned on Biovail yet again when it was revealed that company founder and chairman Eugene Melnyk had sold 1.08 million shares in May and June in the $22.01 and $26.79 range. Melnyk, who owns the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League, still holds 21.9 million shares of Biovail for a 13.7-per-cent stake. The Canadian pharmaceutical giant, which is being investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission for trading in the company's stock, has fallen out of favour in recent years after trading as high as $130 per share in late 2000.
* ACT V: The Trust Bounce Hot House Growers Income Fund (TSX:VEG.UN) $3.30 Up 22.2 per cent (one-week rally).
Hot House, one of the great trust calamities of recent years, showed some life when it released some positive news. The struggling income trust announced an agreement with Village Farms, a New Jersey-based greenhouse vegetable producer, whereby the latter company would acquire an indirect majority interest in Vancouver-based Hot House. However, the company remains in the unitholder doghouse, having suspended its distributions in mid-June. Units in Hot House have been mostly in a freefall since trading in the $12 range only two years ago.
* ACT VI: The Earnings Flop Matrikon (TSX:MTK) $3.50 Down 39.1 per cent (since hitting 52-week high on Feb. 1).
Matrikon threw the street for a loop when it missed on its quarterly earnings - by a country mile. While the average analyst forecast called for earnings of 6.2 cents per share, Matrikon earned three cents a share or $930,000. In the year-ago period, the Edmonton software company earned five cents a share ($1.56 million). Matrikon, which provides IT services to industrial plants, also lowered its revenue and profit guidance. BMO Capital Markets downgraded the stock from market outperform to market perform, citing lower than expected earnings and a recent management shakeup, and slashed its target price from $6.50 to $4.50.
* ACT VII: The Oil Shock Western Oil Sands (TSX:WTO) $26.90 Down 13.2 per cent (two-day swoon on news).
Western Oil Sands surprised investors when it reported that it was drastically ramping up its cost estimate for expansion of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project by about 50 per cent - from $7.3 billion to $11 billion. The Calgary company, which has a 20-per-cent interest in the Athabasca project alongside operator Shell Canada and Chevron Canada, blamed escalating costs on "intense demand for construction labour, materials and supplies.”
The revelation caused a broad-based selloff of Alberta oilsands companies and cast a cloud of uncertainty over the oilsands landscape.
* ACT VIII: The Penny Jackpot International Enexco (TSXV:IEC) $1.45 Up 590.5 per cent (eight-month run).
Enexco gives investors a rare mining triple play that goes a long way in explaining its torrid performance since last fall when the stock was languishing in the 20-cent range. The Vancouver-based exploration company provides speculators with the diversity of exposure to three resources - uranium from a joint project in the Athabasca Basin of Saskatchewan with uranium giant Cameco Corp., and copper and silver from its Nevada project. The company recently bolstered its land position in Nevada by acquiring mining claims from Golden Phoenix Minerals.
(Stock prices are based on results through July 7 unless otherwise specified.)
(Gyle Konotopetz can be reached at email@example.com)