Hall of Shame

Consumer Discretionary

HLB Inc. (028300 KQ )

Year: 2019

HLB is short for Hyundai Life Boat, a South Korean company. HLB Inc. was founded in 1975 as a lifeboat manufacturing company under Hyundai Group. It is the world’s second and Korea’s only lifeboat manufacturer, producing 700 boats a year.   The company underwent multiple mergers and acquisitions and expanded to biotech research and development in 2015.  

Shares in HLB, whose backers include BlackRock and Vanguard, rallied tenfold from July to October 2019 based amid optimism about the global potential of Rivoceranib, its gastric cancer treatment drug being promoted by the companay.

In November 2019, short-seller Valiant Varriors. published a report "Someone throw HLB a life boat" questioning the recent surge in the company's share price.  They believed HLB is worth only a fraction of its current market capitalization. The market is already waking up to the fact that this is a sham company, looking to swindle its investors. It pretends that it has a cure for gastric cancer when it itself is the cancer.  They alleged that HLB “could not prove that its drug was more effective than a placebo taken by cancer patients."

From an accounts point of view,using GMT's screening function, a number of red flags can be seen :-

Valiant Varriors: Someone throw HLB a life boat, 12 Nov 2019
Financial Times: Short sellers highlight bubble fears in South Korea biotech, 18 Nov 2019
HLB inc.: Annual Report 2018 (Korean)
HLB inc.: Annual Report 2018 (Google translated)