Stock market history is littered with the wrecks of research and development projects, which in the end were all research and no commercial development.
The latest of these to drift across the Punter's radar is Terragen Holdings (ASX code TGH), which has been developing microbes for boosting animal feed and improving soil condition.
It aims to use live microbes to replace chemical fertilisers, pesticides and even antibiotics.
It fits neatly within the trend towards organic and more "natural" farming.
However, sales of its main products, under the brands Great Land and Mylo, are still largely on the basis of buy-and-try, but they have been rising. Product sales in 2019 were $981,000, up from $856,000 the previous year.
In line with the well established and unavoidable tradition of research companies, Terragen has been spending millions of dollars with little or no income, flirting with financial catastrophe.
Losses have been running around $3m a year for the last three years, and the company's auditors, Deloitte, have repeatedly noted there is some doubt as to whether they can continue as a going concern.
Catastrophe was averted last month when it was floated on the ASX.
The shares were offered at 20c each (the normal minimum for a new float on the market) but quickly slipped below that.
Trading in the shares has been thin, with a wide gap between bid and offer prices.
At the time of writing, would-be buyers were prepared to pay only 16c, but the number of investors trying to sell the shares greatly outnumbered buyers.
The Punter has been tempted to lodge a cheeky bid for TGH at 15c, but has decided to sit on his hands for now.
The shares will remain firmly on his watchlist, however, and he will be looking for any signs that the products are gaining traction with farmers.
- The Punter has no financial qualifications and no links to the financial services industry. He owns shares in a number of companies featured in this column.