Nanotechnology is an emerging science that involves manipulating matter at the atomic level. Believers in this advanced field – myself among them – see this sector as one of great long-term promise with potential applications in a wide variety of industries.
Here I will cover three diverse applications of nano-based technologies: pharmaceuticals, alternative energy, and a new means of protecting soldiers – liquid armor.
The latter market is discussed by Gregg Early, editor of The Real Nanotech Investor - who is a fan of Armor Holdings (NYSE: AH), a leading player in providing body armor to law enforcement and the military.
According to Early, the company has gained the sole marketing and distribution rights to liquid armor, which he explains is based on a polymer that, when struck with force, hardens instantaneously.
He notes, "Since it's a liquid, it can be applied to a great number of materials." He emphasizes that the company has not yet released any products based on liquid armor, and that while it "sounds like science fiction" he considers it only a "matter of time" before liquid armor-based products are commercialized.
Josh Wolfe comes to the nanotech sector with direct experience both from a scientific and venture capital standpoint. He is also the editor of The Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report. Attesting to his industry experience, he was one of just a handful of experts invited to the Oval Office for the signing of President Bush's nanotech funding bill.
His latest buy is Nucryst Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: NCST). He says, "Despite having the high risks of an R&D firm, we think Nucryst is a solid company with a bright future."
The company's products are based on nanocrystalline silver, which he notes, "is known to have impressive therapeutic effects, killing over 150 pathogens without any harmful side effects."
Why then is the stock down from a high of $16.88 last May? He explains, "Investors had been pinning their hopes on a drug - NP 32101 - aimed at getting rid of eczema, that failed to show efficacy in a Phase 2 clinical trial."
Not to worry, he feels. That study, which caused the stock to plummet, "only addressed whether the product could be used in a powder form as a topical cream for eczema."
Meanwhile, he notes, "On the market since 1998, the firm's product has been a major success and is currently used in hospitals and burn centers in 30 countries around the world to treat life-threatening burns and serious wounds." He concludes, "Even if Nucryst cans NP 32101 altogether, the future of Nucryst is still looking bright."
Yola Edwards, an editor with Internet Wealth Builder, looks to nanotech and its application to batteries and for use as an alternative fuel sources. She says "I have been very keen on Altair Nanotechnology (NASDAQ: ALTI) since 1995 when it announced it had achieved a breakthrough in rechargeable battery materials."
The company's nano-based batteries are expected to have "three times the power of existing lithium ion batteries at the same price and with recharge times measured in a few minutes rather than hours."
As a technical analyst, she notes, "The stock's chart indicates it is emerging from a long-term oversold point and the MACD is issuing a preliminary buy. The technical pattern suggests a target of approximately $8 over the next year." She rates the stock a buy for aggressive investors.
Altair Nano is also a recommendation from Neil George, editor of Inner Circle. He notes that the firm had its "all-electric service utility truck" on display at the San Francisco International Auto Show at the AAA Greenlight Initiative Showcase booth.
Having its vehicle featured in their booth – which featured advances in alternative energy vehicles – is "a good sign," he says. This exposure, along with what he calls "a new Congress that will push forward funding for energy independence" should lead to profits from this stock. He rates it a buy.
Steven Halpern is editor of TheStockAdvisors, a daily overview of investment ideas from the financial newsletter community.