Profiting on the Latest Scanning Technology: 12/4

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Markets came out of the gate roaring today after progress on US tax cut legislation gave investors hope of continued earnings growth to propel this raging bull market. Markets’ earlier gains have tempered since early trading, with financials leading the gainers (bank profitability is perceived as highly sensitive to tax rates relative to other firms) and tech stocks bringing up the rear.

Astrotech (ASTC): up 60% after conducting a successful product demo for the US TSA.

Astrotech is a technology commercialization company that acquires and develops technology for commercial application. Their subsidiary, 1stDetect, uses research from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop chemical scanning technologies for a variety of government and commercial applications.

Astrotech announced that its latest scanner technology had been successfully demonstrated to the US Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security.  Furthermore, the tech will be demonstrated at ASTC’s shareholder meeting this week.

This new scanning approach has been custom-developed for the TSA and uses a mass-spectrometry approach to detect explosives. Many officials believe these new scanners will prove substantially more effective than the current generation deployed at airports worldwide, which utilize an Ion Mobility spectrometry approach.

The new scanners are expected to be able to detect a greater variety of prohibited substances, have a far lower false positive rate, and roughly analogous costs. They could potentially speed up airport security lines substantially (via false positive reduction), yet another potential boon for clients.

Investors piled into the stock on this product news, driving the stock to gains over 60% at the time of this writing. Investors are hungry for earnings that are secure over longer time frames—they’re necessary to justify current valations. And government security contracts may be one of the most cycle-proof cash flows out there.

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