Revisiting Former Micro-Cap Idea Glucose Health, Inc.
We are using this opportunity to revisit our prior bullish investment thesis on Glucose Health, Inc. (OTCPK:GLUC), given that the company has announced the filing of an S-1 registration statement to raise much-needed capital, in conjunction with an up listing to the American/NYSE.
We have not written about GLUC, since the stock hit $4.34 in December of 2020, but given that the shares are currently trading between $0.40 and $0.50 cents, along with the recently announced plans for an IPO and uplisting, we believe that the shares are once again attractive.
We still hold more than 10% of the outstanding shares of GLUC.
The Impact of Covid-19 on Diabetic Related Issues
As time has passed, in this post-Covid world, new clinical studies have emerged which indicate that the Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has significantly increased the risk of many individuals developing Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes.
We will cite several critical findings from these studies, which not only are alarming, but have also created a renewed sense of urgency for individuals to take steps to avoid developing Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes.
As the deadly COVID-19 virus continues to find ways to adapt to the changing environment, many individuals are now proactively looking for ways to protect themselves, to avoid further adverse health consequences.
One of the groups that has experienced higher rates of complications from the Coronavirus has been those who are diabetic or prediabetic.
The importance of maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is now front and center in the minds of many in the medical community and government agencies like the CDC, (Centers for Disease Control) as well as the NIH (National Institutes of Health) the WHO (World Health Organization) and the ADA (American Diabetes Association).
The Growing Mega-Trend of Type-2 Diabetes Worldwide
Currently, 537 million adults have diabetes worldwide, which is approximately one in ten, and an astounding 783 million people are projected to have diabetes in 2045 . Diabetes is one of the greatest killers of people: about 7 million people die every year because of diabetes, which amounts to one person every 5 seconds . Even if diabetes does not kill you directly, it imparts a heavy burden in terms of its extensive complications and debilitating symptoms, both for individuals and society. Healthcare costs for the disease spiral: the global health expenditure for diabetes among adults aged 20–79 years has grown from US$ 232 billion in 2007 to US$ 966 billion in 2021. This astronomical sum is estimated to account for 11.5% of global health expenditure .
Source: Springer Link
Here, in the United States, the upward trending numbers are quite staggering, especially when it comes to the increasing number of children and adolescents with Type-2 diabetes.
Another alarming statistic is the number of individuals who are prediabetic, but are not even aware of their condition and, as a result, have a greater risk of developing full-blown Type-2 diabetes.
Up until recently, there have been very few ways for equity investors to profit from an investment which can capitalize on this growing global mega-trend.
There are a number of corporate conglomerates, such as Abbott Laboratories (ABT) and Nestle, S.A. (OTCPK:NSRGY) that market products such as Glucerna and Boost, but the revenues generated from these diabetic drinks are so small, compared to the other sources of revenues produced by these billion dollar companies, that neither one of them provides investors with a pure way to take advantage of this worldwide investment opportunity.
Another important difference between Glucerna, Boost and GlucoDown® is that the two former diabetic drinks are thick, heavy shakes. Some people don’t care for the viscosity of a shake-like drink and prefer the light, refreshing alternative of GlucoDown® tea mixes and enhanced water drinks.
Increased Risks of Developing Diabetes After COVID-19
Most of us are probably already aware that individuals with existing co-morbidities such as high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, COPD, obesity and diabetes were at a greater risk of developing serious complications from the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus.
Source: American Diabetes Association
In addition to diabetics and prediabetics being susceptible to the higher risks of severe health complications from Covid-19, there is also now evidence that individuals who are not diabetic but have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus and have subsequently been diagnosed with severe Covid-19 symptoms, requiring hospitalization, may be at three times greater risk of developing diabetes within months after being infected with the Coronavirus.
People who get COVID-19 have a greater risk of developing diabetes up to a year later, even after a mild SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared with those who never had the disease, a massive study1 of almost 200,000 people shows.
The research, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology earlier this month, is one of a growing number of studies2 showing that COVID-19 can increase a person’s risk of diabetes, months after infection.
When this whole pandemic recedes, we’re going to be left with the legacy of this pandemic — a legacy of chronic disease” for which health-care systems are unprepared, says study co-author Ziyad Al-Aly, chief researcher for the Veterans Affairs (VA) St Louis Healthcare System in Missouri.
The latest analysis found that people who had had COVID-19 were about 40% more likely to develop diabetes up to a year later than were veterans in the control groups. That meant that for every 1,000 people studied in each group, roughly 13 more individuals in the COVID-19 group were diagnosed with diabetes. Almost all cases detected were type 2 diabetes, in which the body becomes resistant to or doesn’t produce enough insulin.
The chance of developing diabetes rose with increasing severity of COVID-19. People who were hospitalized or admitted to intensive care had roughly triple the risk compared with control individuals who did not have COVID-19.
Another German study, which appeared in Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing, found a direct link between COVID-19 and the future chances of contracting Type-2 diabetes.
People who recover from COVID 19 face a significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.
The study, published online March 16, 2022, by Diabetologia, reviewed data on 8.8 million people across Germany from March 2020 through July 2021. In that time, 35,865 people were diagnosed with COVID-19. These patients were compared against a control group of the same size (average age 43; 46% women) who weren’t diagnosed with COVID-19 but had experienced short-term upper respiratory tract infections, which frequently are caused by other viruses. The two groups were matched for factors such as gender, age, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, past heart attack or stroke, and the month they were diagnosed with COVID-19 or an upper respiratory infection.
Compared with people in the control group, those who recovered from COVID-19 were 28% more likely to develop diabetes in the months afterward. Researchers noted that most people who experience mild COVID-19 are unlikely to develop diabetes but recommended that people who’ve had the infection stay alert for warning signs such as increased thirst, frequent urination, and fatigue.
Source: Harvard Health Publishing
Looking at this alarming trend on a global scale, it becomes readily apparent that there are certain groups, based on ethnicity, that have a much greater chance of being afflicted with diabetes.
- Among adults of Hispanic origin, Mexicans (14.4%) and Puerto Ricans (12.4%) had the highest prevalence, followed by Central/South Americans (8.3%) and Cubans (6.5%).
- Among non-Hispanic Asians, Asian Indians (12.6%) and Filipinos (10.4%) had the highest prevalence, followed by Chinese (5.6%). Other Asian groups combined had a prevalence of 9.9%.
It is interesting to note that as part of Glucose Health’s long-term growth plan, new product flavors are being developed to address specific ethnic groups with a higher incidence of contracting Type-2 diabetes.
Two of those flavors, which are popular among the Hispanic population (a high-risk group for diabetes) are Horchata and Mocha Coffee.
Discovering A Micro-cap Diamond In The Rough
Believe it or not, we initially discovered GLUC when we were reviewing some of our past micro-cap investments that, unfortunately, didn’t work out. We are not always right 100% of the time and we certainly have had our share of bumps in the road.
While the execution on our original micro-cap idea was flawed, we were convinced that the original investment premise that we started with still had merit. We just happened to pick the wrong company in the right industry.
The two things that we found most interesting when we started researching Glucose Health, Inc., was that the company had a very impressive capital structure, with no toxic debt, and the company was being managed by a CEO who was not paying himself a salary.
In fact, Murray Fleming wasn’t even accruing a salary, something that we had never seen before.
However, Mr. Fleming owned a substantial portion of the equity in GLUC, and we found it encouraging that he had tethered his own personal net worth to building value for both himself and other shareholders.
GLUC Has A Very Clean & Attractive Capital Structure
We have been investing in micro-caps for over 45 years, and we have the battle scars to prove it.
Rarely, if ever, do you see a OTC Pink Sheet company (they are called “stinky pinkies” for a reason) with the kind of capital structure of GLUC.
In fact, the capital structure has improved over the past year, after a series of private transactions by CEO Murray Fleming, which reduced the number of outstanding shares, cut balance sheet liabilities to zero, while also eliminating all debt on the company books
At the inception of Glucose Health, Inc.’s current business operations involving the manufacture and distribution of GlucoDown® branded products, management implemented a long-term debt reduction strategy with the objective of eliminating all debt obligations on the balance sheet, systematically over a period of years. To the present date, dozens of financial obligations and entanglements have been repaid or otherwise settled and retired. For the first time in its corporate history, Glucose Health, Inc. is now a debt free company.
Certain of Glucose Health, Inc.’s (now retired) debts were convertible into millions of shares of common equity. By adhering to its long-term debt management strategy, the Company successfully prevented tens of millions of potentially dilutive shares from being issued. The result is the Company’s equity structure may now be considered among the most straightforward, transparent, and attractive of any development stage company quoted by OTCMarkets. Today, Glucose Health, Inc. has 22,128,632 fully diluted common shares, of which 13,848,630 are already issued and 8,280,002 are potentially issuable.
At June 30, 2021, Glucose Health, Inc. reported zero liabilities on its balance sheet. The genesis of this result dates to the first production run of GlucoDown® in the last quarter of 2017. At that time, management implemented a long-term strategy of prioritizing cash-in-advance payments to its suppliers for raw materials and contract manufacturing expenses. By maintaining low (or zero) accounts payables, management avoided the need to supplement working capital with supply chain financing. Today, the Company maintains an enviable track-record, relative to other publicly traded beverage and nutritional supplement companies, of having declined every offer of inventory financing, purchase order financing or factoring (the pre-selling of a company’s receivables) from supply chain finance companies which specialize in such arrangements (often at usurious rates of interest).
Source: Yahoo Finance
While we were able to share this micro-cap idea with followers on our Google blog, unfortunately, at the time, we were prohibited from publishing our article on Seeking Alpha, since, with only 3,311,273 shares outstanding, and a share price of around $0.05 cents, the total market capitalization of GLUC was a miniscule $136,424.00 and therefore did not meet Seeking Alpha’s strict editorial standards for consideration.
Source: OTC Markets
Despite all the above improvements, GLUC remains an extremely small micro-cap stock. For that reason, we suggest that only seasoned micro-cap investors and those with a speculative appetite for high-risk equities should even consider investing in GLUC.
The Odds of Success in Micro-Cap Investing Are Not Favorable
Attractive micro-cap investment ideas are hard to come by, extremely hard.
With the growing number of micro-cap company failures, littering the investment landscape, it’s understandable why most investors avoid the highly speculative micro-cap sector when it comes to investing in the stock market.
There is a very high probability that a publicly traded micro-cap company, will ultimately become insolvent, and go out of business, leaving its shareholders with nothing but capital losses and a tax-loss carryforward for years.
In fact, one of our micro-cap ideas did file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. The name may be familiar to many of our readers; Blue Biofuels (OTCQB:BIOF). At the time of their bankruptcy filing, they were known as Alliance Bioenergy Plus; trading under the symbol ALLM.
Fortunately, the management team of CEO, Ben Slager and CFO, Anthony Santelli, were able to successfully execute on a court-approved plan to reorganize the company, and exit from Chapter 11, with all shareholder equity fully intact.
This outcome was very unusual, since, generally, equity holders get wiped out in a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy scenario.
We are strong believers in the philosophy of Investment icon Carl Icahn (pun intended) who likes to say that:
The CEO is, by far, the most important decision for a company… The company is going to rise and fall with the CEO.
Source: A-Z Quotes
The odds of success for micro-caps, often known as penny stocks, are not very good. In fact, you have better odds at the gaming tables in Las Vegas.
We have heard people say that investing in this class of securities is nothing more than gambling. We respectfully disagree and have written about the similarities and differences between investing in penny stocks and gambling.
We always like to point out some of the not-so-obvious risks of investing in the common equity class of micro-cap companies.
Micro-cap stocks carry additional risks beyond those of higher classes of securities including, but not limited to trading outside of a listed exchange, potential liquidity issues, dealing with penny-stock rules, lack of margin eligibility, a possible absence of transparency regarding BBBO quotes, a limited number of Market Makers willing to provide depth to the order book, potential issues regarding financing activities, inadequate capital to execute on the company’s business plan, going concern caveats, and the potential inability to compete with larger companies due to limited financial and personnel resources. Please invest responsibly. We encourage individuals to only invest what they can afford to lose, up to a maximum of 100% of their investment.
If you are so inclined, you can read our thoughts in a Seeking Alpha article we wrote titled Understanding The All-Important Distinction Between Investing And Gambling In Low-Priced Micro-Cap Stocks.
There are also a few other articles that we would encourage investors to read, if they are inexperienced or unfamiliar with investing in micro-cap stocks.
Past Reliance on Small Private Placements For Capital
Many micro-cap companies are in the unfortunate position of having to resort to toxic debt financing to obtain working capital. Floorless convertible debt, without a fixed conversion price, and PIPEs (Private Investment in Public Equity) are among the most common financing structures used by vulture investment firms.
Glucose Health, Inc. CEO, Murray Fleming, never turned to that kind of toxic financing and was able to find a group of investors willing to fund the company through convertible preferred shares which carried a fixed conversion price and paid dividends.
The company closed on several private placements in 2019, ($460,000) 2020 ($365,000) and 2021 ($960,000) but could not raise enough meaningful capital to launch a major Sales & Marketing campaign for its GlucoDown® product line.
Unfortunately, this had the effect of stalling the sizzling momentum that was taking place at Walmart and Amazon.
After the capital raise, in 2019, the company placed its largest single order for raw materials to ramp up production of the GlucoDown® line of diabetic friendly tea mixes.
That record order would soon be eclipsed, in September of 2020, after triple-digit year-over-year sales in both May and June, led to stockouts at Amazon.
Amazon YOY Sales Comparisons Register 1,000% Gains
Record sales in May 2020, up a whopping 1,048%, followed by a 1,248% increase in sales for June 2020, led CEO Murray Fleming to the conclusion that he needed to take immediate action and authorize another sizeable production run of GlucoDown®, as Amazon inventory supplies were dwindling.
A new order was soon placed representing a massive 31,500 lbs. of new GlucoDown® inventory. This very large order produced 50,000 14-ounce containers of all four GlucoDown® tea mix flavors (Peach, Lemon, Raspberry, and Super Berry), and followed on the heels of a production run, just two months prior in early June 2020.
This prior production run, in early June, produced 14,064 containers of Glucodown® Peach flavored tea mix.
This new inventory appears to have accounted for much of the aforementioned 1,048% increase in May sales, as well as the 1,248% sales increase in June on Amazon. It seemed, at the time, that growing consumer demand was quickly outstripping the available supply of all flavors of GlucoDown®, tea mixes especially on Amazon.
Over the next 12-18 months stockouts at Amazon continued, and frustrated consumers were finding it hard to obtain product on the Amazon web site.
The supply chain bottlenecks and long delays that many companies found themselves facing in 2020 and 2021, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, also took a toll on Glucose Health, Inc.
This new global supply chain problem exacerbated what already had become an almost insurmountable challenge and created an untenable situation for many smaller companies, who found themselves without many alternatives for sourcing raw materials that were critically needed to manufacture products.
In a press release, dated August 12, 2020, CEO Murray Fleming summed up what the company was facing in trying to keep up with the exploding demand for GlucoDown® products, particularly on Amazon.
During the 2nd quarter, Glucose Health, Inc. experienced unprecedented consumer demand for GlucoDown® – in particular at Amazon. By mid-June it became apparent to management that GlucoDown® inventories at Amazon were rapidly depleting and the Company responded quickly by placing new production orders. However, by the last month of the quarter (July), three of four GlucoDown® flavors at Amazon, were sold-out. In total, more than 15,000 containers of GlucoDown® were purchased in the 2nd quarter of 2020, via the national retailers including Amazon, with which Glucose Health, Inc. has distribution agreements.
Also driving 2nd quarter revenues higher, GlucoDown® advertising expanded to DISH and DIRECT TV, for the first time. As consumers view the now memorable GlucoDown® “Hey Mike” commercial on cable TV (or via Facebook promoted video ads) they are excited to discover an entirely original product – the first and only nutritious, but most importantly delicious, tea mix, infused with a special form of soluble fiber shown to maintain healthy blood sugar and regular digestive health.
Source: Glucose Health, Inc.
Trademarks, Patents & FDA Findings
Glucose Health, Inc. CEO Murray Fleming, realizing that GlucoDown® functional beverages represented a potential juggernaut, took steps to build a fence around the company’s intellectual property when he filed a patent application with the USPTO (United States Patent & Trademark Office) in late December of 2021.
Glucose Health, Inc. (OTC: “GLUC”) (“Company”) is pleased to advise that a patent application for “Compositions and Methods for Metabolic Health” was filed with the United States Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO) on December 23, 2021, on behalf of the Company.
The patent filing discloses a composition of the combination of resistant dextrin, corosolic acid and chromium picolinate, in measures for maintaining and improving health by attenuating post-prandial glycemic and lipid increases and/or lowering levels of plasma glucose and lipids. The composition disclosed is the nutritional foundation of the Company’s GLUCODOWN® products.
The purpose of the USPTO filing is to assert Glucose Health, Inc.’s claims and rights for the way in which the composition may be used. Prior to filing, a worldwide patent search was commissioned, which indicated the composition disclosed by the Company is its first use, in the context of a nutritional product, in the world.
Source: Glucose Health, Inc
Earlier in 2019, Glucose Health, Inc. received a notification from the USPTO approving the company’s application, and thereby granting to Glucose Health, Inc. the rights to use of an official Trademark for its line of GlucoDown® teas.
Another important milestone for the company took place when the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), after a careful review of all of the scientific evidence, concluded that Fibersol®, the key ingredient contained in GlucoDown® products, met the regulatory standards established by the FDA in 2016 to be officially designated as a “dietary fiber” and be included in the list of ingredients designated as such under Title 21.
GlucoDown®, manufactured by Glucose Health, Inc. (OTC: “GLUC”), is the leading functional tea beverage in the over-the-counter diabetic nutritional retail category, which encompasses the more than 100 million Americans estimated to be diabetic or pre-diabetic.1 Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) regulations2 enacted in 2016, provide that only forms of dietary fiber demonstrating a “beneficial physiological effect on human health”, can be declared on nutritional supplement product labels, as dietary fiber. More than two years ago, a citizen’s petition prepared by Archer Daniels Midland was submitted to the FDA on behalf of Fibersol®-2, the trade name of the dietary fiber in GlucoDown®. The FDA concluded, “based on (its) careful review of the strength of scientific evidence” that Fibersol®-2 meets “our regulatory definition of dietary fiber” as established in 2016, in Title 21 CFR 101.9(C)(6)(i).3
The result is GlucoDown® is the first instant tea mix in America, enriched with a form of soluble dietary fiber recommended by the Food & Drug Administration for inclusion in the aforementioned Title 21. More than 20 years of clinical research and 100 published studies establish the beneficial physiological impacts of the Fibersol®-2 soluble dietary fiber in GlucoDown®.
Source: Glucose Health, Inc.
Encouraging Anecdotal Evidence & Consumer Behavior
We are long-time disciples of Peter Lynch. We have written about his boots-on-the-ground approach and using anecdotal evidence to measure how today’s consumers feel about a particular product or service.
Mr. Lynch used to drive around on Saturday mornings to see what consumer traffic was like at places like Home Depot. If the parking lot was full and people were walking out with carts full of home improvement items, Mr. Lynch took that as a positive sign for the business.
The Internet wasn’t around during the days when Peter Lynch was running the Fidelity Magellan Fund but is now and we use it extensively to measure consumer sentiment.
This worked extremely well for us while we were busy accumulating shares of Celsius Holdings, Inc. (CELH) and we have been using it again to determine how Glucose Health products are resonating with consumers.
The reviews on Amazon are quite impressive and we would head down to the local Walmart every couple of weeks to see if the product was moving off the shelves there.
Here are the current GlucoDown® product offerings on Amazon.
All four flavors of GlucoDown® enjoy 4.2/4.3/4.3/4.3 ratings on Amazon.
The overall blended star rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars are impressive, but we are even more impressed with the comments from users of the products, posted on Amazon’s web site.
Here are a few of the comments from verified purchasers of GlucoDown®, who have tried the products and have taken the time to provide valuable feedback.
As you can see from this small sampling of comments, (you can read more here) not only do a majority of users like the taste of GlucoDown®, but they are experiencing the benefits of GlucoDown® products when it comes to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
We view this as a solid win/win for both the company and consumers.
Summary & Conclusion
There is a growing mega-trend of obesity and Type-2 diabetes throughout the world, which shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. The number of children and adolescents that are diagnosed as diabetic or prediabetic remains a cause for great concern.
Also, the staggering number of prediabetic individuals, who are unaware of their risk of becoming another Type-2 diabetes statistic, is also alarming.
Add to this, the recent amount of medical information, resulting from various worldwide clinical studies, which suggests that individuals who have recovered from the Covid-19 virus have a 40% greater risk of becoming diabetic soon after recovery from the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen and it becomes easy to see why there is growing market for products that address these worrisome findings.
Glucose Health, Inc. and their GlucoDown® blood sugar maintenance products are uniquely positioned to capture the attention of consumers who are looking for preventive measures (not a cure) that can help to control blood sugar levels from the dangerous spikes which can occur if the amount of sugar in the bloodstream is not regulated and maintained properly.
GlucoDown® is currently available in Walmart and on Amazon, along with a few other smaller retail outlets.
In the past, Glucose Health CEO, Murray Fleming, has attempted to position the company for significant growth in sales and revenues, by capitalizing on the consumer’s attraction to both the great taste and health benefits of the GlucoDown® tea-mix and enhanced water product lines.
Unfortunately, the company lacked adequate capital resources to be able to keep up with the initial demand and subsequent re-orders from satisfied users.
The company’s past revenue growth has been extremely impressive, but without the ability to maintain adequate inventory levels at retailers, it becomes a lost opportunity for consumers and the company alike.
One way to solve this obvious problem, is to undertake a very large capital raise that will provide the company with the resources necessary to execute on its strategic business plan through a more comprehensive sales & marketing campaign.
In addition to an upcoming underwriting by E.F. Hutton, the company intends to up list to the American/NYSE (this will require a reverse split) and become a fully-reporting SEC company, meaning the timely filing the customary 10-Q and 10-K instead of the alternative reporting methods for the Over-The-Counter market.
We have no doubt that GlucoDown® can regain its sales momentum, with a successful capital raise, and while we may not see the four-figure revenue increases of May and June of 2020, we are confident that the upward trajectory that once existed can be re-established.
If everything does align properly, we could see a sudden resurgence in sales of GlucoDown®, along with a renewed interest in the shares of GLUC.
Investors may want to read through the S-1 registration statement. It contains a great deal of very important information that we cannot take the time to parse in this article.
One thing that did catch our eye can be found on page 6 of the preliminary prospectus:
Since we launched the GlucoDown® brand in the fourth quarter of 2017, our Company has become a supplier to national and large regional retailers, including Walmart, CVS Pharmacies and Woodland Partners (for Publix). We also launched GlucoDown® at Amazon in 2018, and at our own Shopify online store in 2021. This direct purchase of GlucoDown® online by consumers is now our largest source of revenue.
We are also intrigued by what is contained on page F-15 in the Index of Financial Statements which follows the 73-page preliminary prospectus:
On May 6, 2022, we issued invoices totaling $225,766.80 pursuant to fulfilling purchase orders for shipments of GlucoDown® for stocking at a new retailer.
It looks like the days of small private placements, among a handful of investors, will now be replaced with a more traditional large-scale Wall Street underwriting.
Perhaps, with E.F Hutton leading the GLUC capital raise, investors will listen.