Friday, July 23, 2010

Qnexa FDA Committee Rejection Focuses Attention on Vivus' Survival

So confident was Vivus (VVUS-$5.75) in the efficacy of Qnexa across a range of overweight or obese patients (with or without co-morbid conditions, from diabetes to hypertension), management deferred entering into any clinical and marketing partnership(s) until after the July 15 meeting of the FDA’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee.

Big Mistake! Although acknowledging an unmet need in obesity treatment - and Qnexa's impressive efficacy, average weight loss was 14.7 percent (37 lbs) - panel members voted 10 - 6 against approval, voicing concerns about Qnexa’s risk of birth defects, increases in adverse psychiatric events, and a dearth of long-term data on cardiovascular outcomes (more than 56 weeks).

What now for Vivus and its anti-obesity drug Qnexa?

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bookmakers Predict Firing of BP CEO Hayward

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has joined other congrssman calling for an investigation into whether BP (BP-$35.75) helped to secure the early release of Lockerbie terrorist, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber freed by Scottish authorities last year.

Was there a quid pro quo — Did BP broker the early release of Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer convicted back in January 2001 for his role in the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland, in exchange for lucrative Libyan offshore exploration contracts?

Chief executive when the alleged influence peddling went down – Tony Hayward. An Irish bookmaker is taking bets Hayward won’t last the year running BP….

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Algae Farmers Behind BP Oil Spill in Gulf -- Or Was it Armed Dolphins?

What’s happening off the Louisiana coast wasn’t from incompetence, but from a purposeful desire – from the Obama administration and an industrial consortium ranging from BP ($38.92) to Goldman Sachs (GS-$145.22) – to spark growth in a nascent alt-renewable industry: algae farming, according to one online conspiratorialist.

Did Illuminati-types press the Coast Guard to restrict media access in affected spill zones of the Gulf of Mexico? Was the Deepwater Horizon explosion really an accident?

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Obama Drilling Plan Could Cripple Noble Drilling's U.S. Operations

Should the Obama administration win its bid to impliment a new deepwater drilling ban in Gulf waters — Noble Drilling (NE-$31.87) could find itself with idled rigs, with limited options for favorable contract renewal terms.

Noble had six rigs operating in U.S. Gulf waters, prior to the initial deepwater drilling ban. A win in the courts for the Obama administration — i.e., a reinstated moratorium — could have immediate negative financial implications for Noble, as approximately 30 percent of its approximately $7.5 billion in contracted drilling backlog comes from U.S. Gulf of Mexico operations.

Need further convincing that an offshore drilling moratorium could cripple U.S. exploration activities: After a force majeure declaration, Diamond Offshore Drilling (DO-$64.24) is moving the Ocean Endeavor rig, which had been contracted at about $290,000 per day from Devon Energy (DVN-$63.31) in the Gulf of Mexico, to Egypt under a new deal with Burullus Gas Co. The new day rate is only $225,000, said a spokesman for Diamond, the second-largest drilling contractor by market value.

As the Endeavor rig is contracted overseas through mid-2011, don't expect to see this – or other rigs looking to leave U.S. waters – drilling for oil here at home anytime soon.

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Friday, July 09, 2010

'Friends of Obama' Profit From BP Oil Spill in Gulf -- No Accident?

BP plc (BP-$33.90) has removed, on average, only about 60 percent of the amount of oil - it promised federal regulators - spilling daily into the Gulf of Mexico. Throw in reports that the Coast Guard has prevented public access to spill zones, and a conspiracy dimension emerges that the April 20 explosion onboard Deepwater Horizon was no accident.

In a March report that was not questioned by federal officials, BP said it had
the capacity to skim and remove 491,721 barrels of oil each day in the event of a major spill. As of Monday, with about 2 million barrels released into the Gulf, the skimming operations have averaged less than 900 barrels a day, according to a CBS News report.

Feeding online speculation of a conspiracy - or cover-up - are
published stories from affected Gulf Coast regions that federal officials are restricting the public - including news photographers and reporters - toward approaching within 65 feet of any response vessels or booms on the water or on beaches.

Internet discussion boards are buzzing with speculation that the federal government's supposed slow response in accepting foreign help - in addition to blocking state and local attempts at clean-up - was timed to coincide with the start of hurricane season, which runs through November. Notwithstanding dearth of hard evidence, word is spreading virally online that sinister design motivated the current crisis and subsequent inaction - one just has to "connect the dots."

Irrespective of whether or not Barack Obama's henchmen sunk the Transocean (RIG-$51.95) - leased semi-submersible rig, accusatory fingers point to the White House for
manufacturing a crisis to advance an unpopular climate agenda, according to the Economic Collapse blog:

Never one to to allow a "good crisis" to go to waste, Barack Obama is pledging to use the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an opportunity to push the U.S. Congress to pass his controversial climate bill.

Prior to the oil spill, polls showed Americans weren't particularly enamored with issues like carbon dioxide emissions or global warming. A March 2010 Gallup survey, for example, found that 48 percent of Americans believed the seriousness of global warming claims were exaggerated.

Against the backdrop of the oil spill, Democratic Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman
released the first draft of the American Power Act on May 12, without support from any Republican senators. The American Power Act would establish a nationwide cap-and-trade system that would regulate the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by big businesses.

It would be useless to perceive how things ‘actually look' as it would be to watch the random dots on untuned television screens. ~ Artificial intelligence expert Marvin Minsky

With oil recovery efforts coming up short, could Professor Minsky be wrong in thinking "how things look" can't be inferred from connecting seemingly isolated events?

Carbon emission (offset) credits would be traded on the
Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the only legally binding (and recognized) greenhouse gas exchange in North America. The CCX derivatives market could be worth an estimated $10 trillion to its owners, according to principal founder Richard Sandor.

As detailed by Victor Thorn in an intriguing online post "
Was BP Oil Spill an Inside Job?", most - if not all - holding CCX investment stakes are ‘friends' of the Obama administration, including: erstwhile VP Al Gore, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen (retired chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs), and President Obama's favorite Chicago-based charity Joyce Foundation, (which has a donor relationship with John Ayers (brother of the president's (alleged) friend and 1960's Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers).

Beltway insiders aren't the only ones who stand to benefit in the wake of the oil spill. President Obama has publicly vilified Goldman Sachs (GS-$138.00) as exemplifying all things "bad" about Wall Street. For example, the company's senior executives earned millions apiece in bonuses from the mortgage-backed securities scandal. Could there be a rhyme to the investment banking firm's reason for being Obama's whipping post? Goldman Sachs owns 10 percent of CCX, worth an estimated $1 trillion.

Goldman Sachs' proprietary trading unit profited from the spill, too, earning upwards of $266 million from a short-sale position held in BP stock, according to regulatory filings reviewed by

It's not just politics that makes for "strange bedfellows" (to paraphrase essayist Charles Dudley Warner). Dots are being connected that show gains to be had by energy-related concerns too. In a recent posting, I mentioned that investigators were examining the role of Dick Cheney and his former employer Halliburton (HAL-$28.70) in the undersea spill, as
the oil-service company was responsible for cementing the blown-out drill hole. Suspicious Internet minds believed Halliburton intentionally triggered the catastrophic blowout (using substandard concrete slurry when cementing the spaces around the piping in the wellbore casing) to adversely affect U.S. oil production - looking to boost oil prices (and profits). judiciously noted in a posting last month
how Halliburton stood to make money from the spill through another venue - the clean-up itself: on April 9, just 11 days before the Deepwater rig explosion, Halliburton bought oil-services company Boots & Coots for $240 million. A provider of equipment and services for well fires (and inspiration for a 1968 film called Hellfighters, starring John Wayne), the acquired company also has noted global expertise in well integrity design and spill containment. And, yes, Boots & Coots has a contract with BP for the Gulf oil spill.

Unfortunately for conspiracy buffs, circumstantial evidence alone isn't enough to convict. Nonetheless, a perverse sense of justice could still be had for those "who believe." As predicted by the "law of unintended consequences," drilling moratoriums and mangled reputations were not what the key protagonists (BP and Pres. Barack Obama, respectively) envisioned for their roles in this tragicomedy playing out in the Gulf of Mexico.


Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Image Source: Cap & Trade photo courtesy of "C3 (Climate Cycles Change) Headlines"

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Did Wrath of God Befall BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in Gulf?

Has President Obama’s poor treatment toward Israel contributed to BP’s (BP-$33.19) catastrophe in the Gulf?

As if President Obama didn’t already have enough on his plate to worry about, now comes word from the socially conservative WorldNetDaily promulgating a spiritual connection. In a video narrative, Florida-based Baptist preacher Carl Gallups warned the wrath of God befell upon Obama. Pastor Carl recounted from the Book of Genesis an ancient promise God made to Abraham, the patriarch of the 12 tribes of Israel…

For more on this spiritual wrath and other conspiracy theories, click through to

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.

Friday, July 02, 2010

No Relief for British Petroleum in Sight

BP plc's (BP-$28.50) first relief well has detected metal casing from the Macondo wellbore in the Gulf of Mexico. A scheduled attempt to intersect and plug the damaged well come August, however, could be delayed if the U.K.-oil major fails to address the concerns of a congressional subcommittee investigating the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, is growing impatient with BP's remarked lack of preparedness for all things "oil spill." For example, at a House hearing held yesterday, Markey and other committee members heard BP America CEO Lamar McKay confess the company has no response plan in place, should a hurricane or tropical storm pass over the oil spill zone.

The well reached a depth of 16,275 feet on June 23 before a ‘ranging' run spotted the approximate locale of the MC (Macondo) 252 well. As explained by Kent Wells, BP senior vice president in charge of subsea spillzone efforts, electromagnetic range testing isn't an exact process. It requires:
  • Placing a cable into the end of the wellbore;
  • Sending out an electric current; and,
  • Picking up the subsequent magnetic field signature around the wellbore.
Although the first well has closed to within about 20 feet horizontally of MC-252, drilling in rock several miles down to determine the exact location of 6-inch piping in the damaged wellbore is worse than stumbling in a darkened gymnasium -- limited to using only one hand, walking along the four walls -- to find the light switch. Nonetheless, the company remains ahead of schedule. Subsequent drilling and ranging runs will continue over the next few weeks, steered toward a target intercept depth of approximately 18,000 feet, said Wells.

Video feeds from the sea floor are showing hydrocarbon columns bubbling up from fissures removed from the drill site. There are worries the original methane gas explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig has compromised the structural integrity of the well and pipe casings. Echoing this concern, Markey forwarded a letter of inquiry to BP's Tony Hayward dated June 23, demanding the chief executive provide documentation on wellbore condition and relief well efforts, including answers to:
  • Likelihood that filling the relief wells with drilling mud will result in fractures and a subsequent loss of pressure;
  • Measurements, images, and other documents related to the condition of the casing inside the wellbore, as well as any future plans for such measurements going forward;
  • Any survey(s) to identify hydrocarbon leakage from the sea floor; and,
  • All documents related to the geologic formation in which the Macondo well is located, including reserve estimates of the total amount of oil and gas contained in the target reservoir.
The goal is to drill the first relief in parallel with the damaged piping -- to within five feet horizontally and 200 feet vertically of the intercept point.

During one of his daily briefings with the press last week, incident commander Admiral Thad Allen, said "kill" operations were expected to begin the second week of August, when BP will try plugging the old well with heavy drilling mud and cement.

Given its pathetic record of transparency, whether Hayward and the board can provide assurances that hydrocarbons flowing directly into the ocean from the wellbore or the sea floor won't complicate plug activities is doubtful. Efforts to stop the spill in the Gulf are being described as "chaotic." But it's the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (erstwhile Minerals Management Service) charged with approval and oversight of BP's contingency plans.

Whether President Obama chooses to heed the cautions of Markey or the Ocean Bureau is entirely his call -- after all, he is the boss of the regulatory agency. This being a mid-term election year, in my opinion, the president might just err on the side of caution and request BP management to delay the intersect of the first relief well with the damaged wellbore until BP starts acting like a more responsible partner in this cleanup fiasco.

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.