May 23, 2011
Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of patent pursuer VirnetX (NYSE: VHC ) once again fell more than 10% in early trading when fears over continued economic weakness in Europe led to a marketwide sell-off. The stock has since recovered to being down about 7%.
So what: A full recovery could prove inevitable. VirnetX is an asset play with its principal asset being a portfolio of 48 U.S. and international patents. Last year, the company received $200 million from Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) for licenses to four its patents. Applying this same valuation across the entire portfolio would result in $2.4 billion in revenue. VirnetX commands $1.07 billion in market value as of this writing.
Now what: Patent fishing isn't exactly a reliable means for generating income, or returns, but what VirnetX proposes is interesting. The company says in SEC filings that its patents for creating communications links between secure domain names -- i.e., URLs that tend to start with "https" rather than the historically typical "http" -- could fetch big settlements with those betting on cloud computing or real-time communications over 4G networks. Recent lawsuits have targeted Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO ) , Mitel (Nasdaq: MITL ) , and NEC, among others. It's a speculative gamble but one that could pay off big over time.
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