Shares of exoskeleton suit leader Ekso Bionics (NASDAQ: EKSO) fell nearly 16% Wednesday without any new sales reports. The company did issue a new press release, but it detailed the results of recently completed studies demonstrating that its exoskeleton products were safe and provided significant physical benefits to individuals with spinal cord injuries.
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Therefore, today's drop can most likely be chalked up to a simple rebalancing after a wild week. That's because Ekso Bionics was showcased in various media reports for its role providing Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) with EksoVest suits in a major pilot study. The stock popped from $1 per share on Nov. 9 to nearly $5 per share on the positive media attention. As of 3:28 p.m. EDT, the stock had settled to a 13.4% loss.
Obviously, the potential to secure a major supply agreement with a company such as Ford would be a huge validation of Ekso Bionics' industrial portfolio (it also has a portfolio focused on healthcare uses of its products). For instance, the EksoVest that was piloted by the automaker supports workers' arms while working overhead, such as drilling or fastening heavy parts. It doesn't give them superhuman strength, but instead aims to limit fatigue and prevent injury.
Of course, exoskeleton suits are still in their infancy. That's evidenced by a review of the company's financial statements. Through the first nine months of 2017 it reported an operating loss of $23.7 million on just $4.9 million in revenue. Management has been forced to dilute investors' stakes in the company to raise money in the last year-and-a-half, which has tamed excitement for the stock. A major industrial order would do a lot to change that, but investors are understandably proceeding with caution.
Ekso Bionics has an intriguing product portfolio and big potential on paper. However, it needs to gain traction in the marketplace before investors get too excited. The recently disclosed pilot program with Ford is a step in the right direction, but it's still too early to confidently project where the company is headed.
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