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Astrotech Corp. (NASDAQ: ASTC) Is ‘One to Watch’

  • In November 2023, the company announced a purchase order from a Romanian company for seven TRACER 1000 ETDs to be deployed in a European airport
  • Astrotech announced in June 2023 that its board unanimously rejected an unsolicited acquisition proposal from BML Investment Partners
  • In May 2023, the company announced a purchase order from a Romanian company for 17 TRACER 1000 ETDs, to be delivered during calendar 2023
  • Astrotech confirmed test results from field trials of the AgLAB 1000-D2 mass spectrometer for hemp and cannabis producers, improving yields by an average of 24%
  • In December 2022, the company effected a 1-for-30 reverse stock split, reducing the number of outstanding common shares

Astrotech (NASDAQ: ASTC) is an instrumentation company that designs, manufactures and commercializes solutions. Its solutions include mass spectrometry, process controls, chemical detectors and medical disease detection.

The company was established in 1984 and, prior to 2009, was known as SPACEHAB Inc., a NASA contractor offering technology originally developed for NASA to monitor air quality on the International Space Station. When the Space Shuttle program ended, the company focused on its satellite processing and mass spectrometer instrumentation units and adopted the Astrotech name.

In 2014, Astrotech sold its satellite subsidiary to focus on its Astrotech Technology Inc. (“ATi”) mass spectrometry solutions, which offer a number of advantages over competing platforms. Notably, Astrotech’s ATi technology is ruggedized, rapid, simple to use and customizable, with hands-free calibration and tuning.

Between 2016 and 2019, the company secured U.S. patents for its technology and achieved European Union (“ECAC”) certification for the TRACER 1000(TM), the world’s first mass-spec Explosives Trace Detector (“ETD”) used in airports worldwide. Astrotech continues to innovate and add to its suite of products, including AgLAB-1000, a process control system, and the BreathTest 1000, a disease detection solution.

Astrotech is headquartered in Austin, Texas.

Subsidiaries

Astrotech Technologies Inc.

Astrotech Technologies Inc. (“ATi”) owns and licenses the platform mass spectrometry technology originally developed by 1st Detect. This technology is designed to be less expensive, smaller and easier to use than traditional mass spectrometers.

Unlike other technologies, ATi works under high vacuum, which eliminates competing molecules, yielding higher resolution and fewer false alarms. The company’s intellectual property includes 18 granted patents, along with extensive trade secrets.

ATi exclusively licenses the Astrotech Mass Spectrometer Technology to the three wholly owned subsidiaries of Astrotech.

1st Detect Corp.

1st Detect Corp. developed the TRACER 1000, the world’s first mass spectrometry-based explosives and narcotics trace detector. 1st Detect ETDs were developed for use at airports, cargo facilities and other secured locations and borders worldwide.

1st Detect’s commercial sales of the TRACER 1000 ETD, consumables and recurring maintenance services brought in $750,000 in total revenue during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2023. The Astrotech subsidiary recently secured two orders for a total of 24 Tracer 1000 units from two Romanian security and telecommunications companies, to be delivered during calendar 2023.

AgLAB Inc.

AgLAB Inc. is developing a series of mass spectrometers for use in the hemp and cannabis market, with an initial focus on optimizing yields in the distillation processes.

AgLAB, which uses the company’s proprietary AgLAB 1000-D2(TM) mass spectrometer, has been proven to improve distillation oil yields and bottom-line profits for hemp and cannabis producers. During field trials, AgLAB was able to improve ending-weight yields by an average of 24%.

BreathTech Corp.

BreathTech is developing the BreathTest-1000(TM), a breath analysis tool to screen for volatile organic compound (“VOC”) metabolites found in a person’s breath that could indicate they may have a compromised condition including but not limited to a bacterial or viral infection. The company believes that new tools to aid in the battle against COVID-19 and other diseases remain of the utmost importance to help more quickly identify that an infection may be present.

Market Opportunity

A report by Mordor Intelligence, a research and advisory firm, put the global mass spectrometry market at $6.37 billion in 2023. The market is forecast to grow to $8.63 billion by 2028, achieving a CAGR of 6.25% during the forecast period.

One of the major driving factors for the growth of the mass spectrometry market is technological advancements in mass spectrometer devices, the report states. Key market players are continuously working toward advancing their existing products and launching innovative and advanced mass spectrometer devices.

Another major factor that is expected to boost market growth is increasing research and development expenditure by both government and private entities, according to the report. Mass spectrometry devices are also being used in the detection and analysis of COVID-19 and other disease samples, which may have a positive impact on the market.

Management Team

The Astrotech leadership team includes management executives, as well as industry and technology experts. The company continues to actively expand its talent pool to meet evolving demands.

Thomas B. Pickens III is Chairman, CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Astrotech Corp. He also serves as CEO of Astrotech subsidiaries ATi, 1st Detect, AgLAB Inc. and BreathTech Corp. Previously, he was the founder and president of Beta Computer Systems Inc. and T.B. Pickens & Co. He was founder and general partner of Grace Pickens Acquisition Partners L.P and managing partner of Sumpter Partners. He also served as CEO of Catalyst Energy Corporation and United Thermal Corporation and as president of Golden Bear Corp., United Hydro Inc. and Slate Creek Corp. He received a B.A. in Economics, Computer Science and Engineering from Southern Methodist University.

Jaime Hinojosa, CPA, is CFO at Astrotech Corp. He joined the company in 2015 and has served as its Corporate Controller since 2019. His previous roles with the company include Director of Finance, from 2017 to 2019, and Assistant Controller, from 2015 to 2017. Prior to joining Astrotech, Mr. Hinojosa worked as an Accounting Manager for O’Reilly Auto Parts and gained public accounting experience as an Audit Manager at Burton McCumber & Cortez LLP.

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.AstrotechCorp.com.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to ASTC are available in the company’s newsroom at https://nnw.fm/ASTC

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