The price of Polar Petroleum stock plunged this week after trading resumed following a suspension ordered by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company, which owns oil and gas leases on Alaska's North Slope, had begun an aggressive marketing campaign that pushed its stock up from pennies a share to $6.25 before the June 10 trading suspension.
It is now around a dollar a share, wiping nearly $200 million from the company’s peak stock market value.
Since the SEC action, Polar chief executive Dan Walker has not responded to phone or email questions from the Alaska Dispatch. Nor has the company updated its website, SEC filings or issued new press releases.
The Nevada-registered company has offices in Anchorage.
Prior to the suspension, Polar was engaged in a marketing campaign where companies that it hired to promote Polar predicted its stock price would rise dramatically, to as much as $27 a share.
Concerns about the company were first raised on the Seeking Alpha investment website by columnist Chris Drose, who analyzed what information was publicly available about Polar, and noted how "phenomenally bad the fundamentals behind the company are" as well as Polar's decision to pay promoters, something that quality companies don't do.
He and others raised concerns it could be a "pump and dump" scheme, where existing shareholders attempt to drive up the value of a nearly worthless company, enabling them to dump the shares they own on unsuspecting investors.
"The only thing I can recommend to is stay as far, far away as possible from this company, which I believe is a fraud," Drose wrote in May.
In the SEC's order suspending trading, it raised concerns about the accuracy and adequacy of the financial data provided by Polar in press releases and promotional materials.
In company press releases, Polar praised the oil tax cuts promoted by Gov. Sean Parnell, saying they'd result in an Alaska oil boom that would benefit the company.
The company recently bought leases from Alaska oil and gas investor Dan Donkel, who had been an outspoken critic of the Parnell cuts, saying they'd benefit the state's big producers at the expense of small explorers such as Polar.
Donkel this week said that he'd spoken with Walker about Polar's SEC troubles, and that Walker was "very positive," but he had no other information.
Drose said he doubted the company was worth anything, and predicted the shares would wind up at zero. "I fully expect it will trade there soon," he said.
Trading in Polar is limited, as is its financial information. The most recent quarterly report it filed was on Feb. 1 of this year.
Contact Pat Forgey at pat(at)alaskadispatch.com