In our 2017 “Year in Review” I was proud to report that shares in Leone Asset Management had appreciated 3000% from .01c per share to .30c. In 2018, I am equally as proud to report that our shares appreciated from .30c to a high of $2.45 per share, while closing the year at $1.09 a 263% increase. Once again, while this growth and appreciation is awesome, management believes we remain deeply undervalued. With our business plan in place and executing, and with additional business verticals in operation, we believe we will see another year of far outperforming the markets.
Throughout 2018, we have made some significant strides with the launch and branding of Cholesterade®. We shipped product to Rite Aid® this summer, our first national chain, and we added several additional smaller chains as well, such as Weis Markets and Big-Y. We are happy to announce that we have become approved vendors with Albertsons and Wegmans and anticipate shipping to these chains and several others during the first quarter of 2019. Needless to say, we are very excited and pleased to receive continued interest from the marketplace for Cholesterade®. While the branding and the product placement process is slower than any of us would prefer, the end game is the target. In a world where investors, shareholders and others all desire instant gratification, we continue to do our best and keep our focus on the big picture of owning and building a large national and international brand.
I feel the most significant point to the Cholesterade® “Big Picture” is additional clinical studies. We wantto dominate our product category both domestically and internationally. In order to do that, we have to prove the products efficacy and its results irrefutable. At this time, we have three additional studies taking place with all three studies being independent of each other. Two studies are filed in the WIRB study protocol and these studies will be published in medical journals. The third study is a case study being run by Dr. Nitza Alvarez, a highly-regarded Cardiologist in “The Villages” Florida. Her study involves a moredetailed lipid panel and is being performed with 200 women as participants. We will begin receiving data from this study in Mid-January with all three studies be completed in the March/April timeframe.
Even though we are still in our relative infancy with the National/International launch of Cholesterade®, we are pleased with our current growth rate and product placement. It’s very important to say, that once we have our completed Clinical studies we will be escalating the marketing, branding, product placement and customer acquisition model with a robust and aggressive approach.
As mentioned previously, we have been developing a separate entity called “Project Cardio”.
Cardio is a non-profit organization that was created to develop awareness and education as it pertains to preventing and remitting cardiovascular disease. While Project Cardio is an education and awareness community it was developed to assist in the branding of Cholesterade® by creating an easy to use and informative platform for building a very large community to educate people to the problem of cardiovascular disease while at the same time providing a potential solution. I am happy to say that we have received IRS approval and we are now a registered 501 C 3 corporation and can now accept charitable donations.
We anticipate the launching of the community portal in the first quarter.
As the growth of our Go Epic Health subsidiary continues nicely with the growth of Cholesterade® and with additional product distribution, I would say the most significant change in 2018 was the new investor interest in Leone Assets operations in Sierra Leone. Prior to this renewed interest, the assets under control of Leone were non-performing and had been more less dormant for the past 5 years. I am extremely proud to say that due to the new investor interest, and in a very short time, we have been able to acquire multiple leases for 2,350 acres of agriculture land in our Farmica Africa subsidiary. We began the clearing and planting on a portion of the various acreage locations this past summer and now have several hundred acres of Lemongrass, Hibiscus, and Senna Coffee well under development. This process will continue much more rapidly in 2019 as the proper documentation, land surveys, seed banks and leases are all completed, necessary equipment has been purchased and the staff is fully trained and operating the lands daily. Currently, we are completing the buildout of a new production facility in Kono that will be producing essential oil from the Lemongrass and we will begin construction of a second facility in Tonkolili during the first quarter. This second operation will accommodate very large essential oil and tea production for Lemongrass, Hibiscus and potentially Green Tea. We are currently in negotiations to acquire more acreage to expand into a very large-scale operation for the development of our current product line as well as additional products including; eucalyptus, green tea, hemp, cacao and others.
In addition, Leone Asset controls a 267-acre granite quarry that is a valuable resource to the company. We have completed all community negotiations, leases, land surveys and geological surveys which incidentally was stated by the geologist that our aggregate is the best in the region for construction materials. We have purchased equipment to begin operations and are finalizing all necessary government permitting including EPA, etc., to begin operating the facility, crushing of the stone, supplying local infrastructure needs as well as exporting to other Sub-Sahara countries.
Lastly, Leone Asset has just formed a new subsidiary and acquired a lease for the purpose of mineral exploration. Bright Rock Minerals will begin operating in the first quarter on an initial parcel of up to 200 acres. The property has proven gold reserves and offers Leone an opportunity for additional diversification and cash flow while providing a potential hedge to volatile markets and geopolitical uncertainties.
Last but not least, we continue our work with our consolidated accounting and legal/registration work. If market and corporate conditions are optimal, we intend to file the registration statement in April after we receive our Cholesterade® clinical study results and have begun generating consistent cash flow from operations in Sierra Leone. We fully understand the desire of our shareholders to see this process get completed and we are doing our best to build the company in a manner that will satisfy shareholder needs over the short-term without compromising or neglecting the company’s long-term vision and success.
I want to offer a special thank you from the Leone Asset team for all of your support, and we wish you a very happy and safe Holiday Season and an Epic New Year.
James Price Chairman/CEO