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Nano's Holiday Price Pop

Do Santa's elves follow high technology? Not only is this the season of good will to all men, but it also appears to be a time for price pops in all things nano.

In December 2003, Nanogen (Nasdaq: NGEN  ) began a buying craze when it announced it had received approval for a nano-based patent. Its share price rose more than 50% in a day and doubled in the next few weeks. A host of nanomakers and nanofakers shared in the good news, provided they had nano in their name somewhere. It did not much matter whether they actually made anything, let alone accrued revenue from it. It was nano, it was hot, and investors bought it up faster than you can say, "Please, no more turkey."

Lo and behold, around the time holiday wrapping got put in the bin and the first toys began running out of batteries, the inflated increases began to ebb. In fact, all the gains Nanogen made in those few weeks evaporated over the next few months. By summer, Nanogen was valued lower than it had been before the patent that started the nano investing frenzy. The same happened to all the other nano players: Their gains evaporated as reality set in.

Perhaps Rudolph is secretly amassing a portfolio of nano-oxide producers, or Donner and Blitzen dream of owning the latest organic light-emitting diode display.

Who can possibly know why the prices of several prominent, publicly traded nano companies spiked by huge margins last Monday? Yup, the reindeer are back in town, the herd is moving, and the annual nano buying craze is back.

Nanophase Technologies (Nasdaq: NANX  ) climbed more than 20%. Altair Nanotechnologies (Nasdaq: ALTI  ) rose 13%, as did Harris & Harris (Nasdaq: TINY  ) . Nanogen, of course, shot up 27%.

So, what gives? The short answer is nothing, nada, zip. Not one of the above companies can point to a press release, a new customer, a new product, or a single item of relevant news to substantiate the rise.

They can point to a program on one of the business news channels that favorably discussed the potential of nanotechnology. But if that's all they've got, they, like Santa himself, will disappear around Christmas or very soon after. And so will your hard-earned dollars if you choose to invest like Santa's reindeer.

Be a Fool, not a reindeer, and check out Nanotech Universe inMotley Fool Rule Breakers, where we sort out the nanomakers from the nanofakers.

Share your views with Carl (TMFBreakerCarl) and John (TMFBreakerJohn) on the Nanotechnology discussion board.

Carl Wherrett owns shares of Nanophase and Harris & Harris, and John Yelovich owns Harris & Harris. You can reach them both by email.The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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