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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 1, 202005:10 AM EST

COVID-19 drug firm, brewpub file for stock sale

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Jacksonville-based TrippBio is raising money under SEC crowdfunding rules.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Two Jacksonville startup companies filed registration statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission in late September to sell shares, including one working on a possible COVID-19 treatment.

TrippBio Inc. is developing drugs based on the research of University of Georgia professor Ralph Tripp, but the company is headquartered in Jacksonville.

The company filed for a stock sale under SEC regulations enacted in 2015 to help startup companies raise money through crowdfunding.

TrippBio said in its filing it is seeking to raise up to $1.87 million as it develops drugs to fight infectious diseases.

“Currently, these efforts are focused squarely on battling the Coronavirus pandemic currently impacting the world,” the SEC filing said.

“While the current mission is to identify and commercialize the repurposing of existing drugs to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, our vision is to find and commercialize new uses of other existing drugs in the treatment and prevention of a variety of rogue viruses affecting the world.”

The money raised through the offering will be used for a clinical trial program of its treatment on COVID-19 patients.

The filing said TrippBio has 18 employees.

San Marco brewpub parent also files to sell shares

The parent company of a brewpub opening in Jacksonville’s San Marco neighborhood also filed an SEC registration statement to sell crowdfunding shares.

Tezcat LLC, owner of the Tepeyolot Cerveceria, filed to raise between $25,000 and $200,000 in securities it described as “revenue sharing notes” in its SEC filing.

Most of the money is targeted for equipment and renovations of its restaurant.

Tezcat was founded by Luis Melgarejo, who opened a food truck in August in front of the building he is renovating for the brewpub at 2136 Kings Ave. 

Webstar Technology completes IPO

Another Jacksonville-based emerging growth company, Webstar Technology Group Inc., said in an SEC filing it completed an initial public offering of 600,000 shares of stock at 10 cents each Sept. 17.

That filing gave no other details.

Webstar said in previous filings it was established to operate businesses involving certain licensed and purchased software solutions. It reported revenue of $2,596 in the first six months of this year.

The previous filings also said Webstar will attempt to have its shares listed by the OTCQB market after completing its IPO.

Sales, earnings jump at JinkoSolar

JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd.’s stock jumped higher after the solar panel manufacturer last week reported a big increase in sales and earnings.

Second-quarter revenue rose 22.2% to $1.2 billion and the China-based company had adjusted earnings per American Depositary Share of $1.20, up from 71 cents in the second quarter of 2019.

“Despite the tough economic environment around the world, total solar module shipments and gross margin for the quarter were all within our guidance range,” CEO Kangping Chen said in a news release.

JinkoSolar operates seven manufacturing plants. Its only facility outside of Asia opened last year in AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center in West Jacksonville.

Chen said JinkoSolar is one of “a few key players” in the solar panel industry that are increasing market share during the economic slowdown.

“Many upstream manufacturing companies were forced to reduce inventory and companies lacking product differentiation and cost flexibility struggled to remain competitive,” he said.

JinkoSolar’s stock rose from $27.66 before its Sept. 23 earnings report to a high of $41.12 on Sept. 30.

Analyst upgrades CSX to 'buy'

Ahead of its third-quarter earnings report in three weeks, Benchmark Co. analyst Mark Levin upgraded his rating on CSX Corp. from “hold” to “buy.”

Levin said the Jacksonville-based railroad company’s stock is trading at 18 times his 2021 earnings estimate, while other large railroads are trading at 21 times earnings.

“We think CSX’s discounted valuation reflects investor concerns about coal (17% of 2019 revenue) and its possible impact on future earnings growth, as well as more limited long-term margin improvement potential than several of its peers,” Levin said in his research note.

“Given its reasonable valuation, our view that coal-related headwinds bottomed in 3Q (particularly on the metallurgical coal side), gradually recovering economically-sensitive volumes, and easy comps ahead, we have warmed to the name,” he said.

With CSX’s stock trading at $76.58 at the time of his Sept. 25 report, Levin set a $95 price target for the shares.

Ameris Bancorp upgraded

Raymond James analyst David Feaster last week upgraded his rating on Ameris Bancorp from “outperform” to “strong buy,” saying its stock has been underperforming the market despite strong growth potential.

“The bank is fortunate to be operating in markets with a strong economic backdrop, notably in Atlanta and Florida,” Feaster said in his upgrade note.

“Its core Florida and Georgia footprint should benefit from net population in-migration given business friendly climates, and Florida’s lack of a state income tax,” he said.

Ameris moved its executive offices last year from Jacksonville to Atlanta.

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