In what's becoming standard fare these days, low-cost Internet telephony provider Vonage
On Thursday, Vonage lost another appeal for a rehearing of its case with Verizon. The companies already had a settlement of their patent dispute, but the outcome of the appeal determined whether Vonage would kick in an additional $40 million to Verizon. Well, Vonage lost, so it will now pay Verizon a total of $120 million to settle.
With an $80 million payout to Sprint Nextel and a $39 million deal to make AT&T go away close at hand as well, it appears that the pressing legal issues haunting Vonage are behind it. Though the company is still involved in a myriad of lawsuits and investigations from customers, investors, various state attorneys general and even the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), none of these carry the threat of shutting down service.
So with much of the courtroom drama finished and Vonage now turning its focus back to "normal" business, what's likely in store for the company? I'd compare it to a wicked case of food poisoning: While you'd think turning your insides out over a porcelain throne would be the end of it, there's a burn that lingers long afterward.
It wouldn't be surprising to see cable competitors Comcast
Even assuming Vonage can get the house in order and head off the increasing customer churn (and that's a big assumption), dealing with balance sheet issues will be tricky. With its $729 million in total liabilities outsizing its $666 million in total assets, something has to give. Much of the liability comes from accrued expenses related to patent litigations, but Vonage also carries $253 million in convertible notes.
So even after surviving several rounds of litigation, there's still a minefield in front of Vonage -- the same one facing investors who risk owning shares.
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Fool contributor Dave Mock swears he pulled a stomach muscle the last time he was sick. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. The Fool's disclosure policy does dishes and likes to cuddle.