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  1. Technology
August 27, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Comments posted to a Yahoo! Finance message board have so devalued a Las Vegas, Nevada-based biotech stock that the company’s chief executive officer held a conference call to reassure investors and analysts that fundamentals are sound. AgriBioTech CEO Johnny Thomas blamed speculators for the rumors that triggered the panic selling. Shorters are making a coordinated effort against the stock at this point. The rumors and attacks that are taking place are very coordinated, very systematic and very widespread, he said. He asserted that the company’s core businesses continue to grow, and added: the shorters cannot attack any of these basic principles because these are facts. They can only resort to lies and innuendoes. Messages to Yahoo suggested that companies with undisclosed buyout clauses were trying to back out of AgriBioTech, and that the company itself was about to declare bankruptcy due to massive accounting fraud. JT and [director and co-founder John} Francis will be indicted in two days, said a message posted on Tuesday afternoon by someone identifying themselves as aahOOOgah. Another message, from secman_98, read in part: Company owners that sold to this asset-less issue, backed by unsecured US bank loans, are currently shorting the stock. This stock will eventually be accurately traded at its real value of 2 to 3 dollars. The plight of AgriBioTech Inc, a forage and cool-season turfgrass supplier, recalls that of Canadian waste management company Philips Services Corp. In both cases, anonymous messages posted in an online forum hosted by Yahoo for investors in the stock have seen share prices plummet. AgriBioTech shed 12.36% today to close at $9.75, compared to a 52-week high of $29.50. In spite of the rumor-driven turmoil, analyst confidence in AgriBioTech remains high. On Wednesday afternoon George K. Baum & Co analyst Bonnie Wittenburg reiterated a strong buy rating on ABTX. If she’s right, there will never be a better moment to invest.

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