Cryo-Cell International's Walton: Rising stem cell competition from public cord blood banks
Haven't heard much in some time about an Oldsmar business that stores stem cells in the form of cryogenically frozen umbilical cord blood. The company is Cryo-Cell International whose stock hit a low of 40 cents earlier this year before crawling over a buck in May. It now trades around $2.20 a share and the small company's market cap is just under $26 million. Not a barn burner, but it's holding its own in, as the company's own CEO recently acknowledged, an increasingly competitive industry.
Mercedes Walton, Cryo-Cell board chairman, was recently interviewed in a lengthy Q&A by something called BioMedReports. She's served as a director since October 2000, as chairman since June 2002, as interim CEO from April 2003 through August 2005 and as the CEO since September 2005. She has a background in strategic consulting and earlier served as AT&T’s vice president-corporate strategy and business development. She graduated from Smith College and holds masters degrees from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cryo-Cell paid her $146,000 last year. (Walton photo courtesy of Cryo-Cell.)
The interview with BioMedReports appears on the Seeking Alpha Web site. Here it is in its entirety but there was one question that generated some interesting responses from Walton.
BioMedReport: What are some of your biggest challenges?
Walton (edited to hit the highlights): Well, I think that the challenges for the cord blood banking industry in general relate to the overall state of the economy and it’s impact on discretionary consumer spending, and I think another related challenge has to do with the growing prevalence of public cord blood banks.
There are a number of public banks that are funded both at the state and the federal level, and families can actually donate their cord blood specimens to these public banks, and they become part of the public registry, so many families that don’t have the discretionary income to store privately opt for this public alternative. So, the competitive landscape is shifting in a way that public banking is a formidable competitor of private banks in today’s environment.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist