August 17, 2012
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 ION Geophysical (NYSE: IO ) lost as much as 16% of their value today after a judge handed down a verdict in a patent infringement suit.
So what: The suit involved Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB ) accusing ION's DigiFin of infringing on its patents related to its lateral-streamer control system. A judge found in favor of Schlumberger's WesternGeco unit and ordered ION to pat $105.9 million for royalties and damages.
Now what: This is a huge deal considering ION only made a $23 million profit last year and the DigiFin product only accounted for 3% of projected revenue this year. It doesn't seem worth infringing on patents, and the judge even found that the infringement was intentional, meaning the damages could be increased. ION has $83.4 million of cash on the balance sheet and vows to fight the ruling, but I don't see this as a good sign for the company. It may not impact operations all that negatively, but it will take time to rebuild the balance sheet considering how big the ruling is in comparison to ION's profits.
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