Sometimes it's fun to take a nostalgic look back at celebrities of the past. That's the entire, sick allure of VH1, of course. Everyone enjoys the horrible realization that people actually liked that bushy-haired, spandex-clad mess -- so long as they weren't among the fans.

So today let's take a trip back... well, only a few months, really, to look at one of last summer's leopard-skin hotties, a company called Ipix (NASDAQ:IPIX).

This one-time imaging provider to eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) has been through a few makeovers. The one that's stuck is as a provider of high-tech security cameras. It was one of many non-defense firms to heed the call of the cash register after the events of 9/11.

The firm got quite a lot of buzz when then-Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge mentioned it in a June 2004 speech. Honestly, this was really no more than the bureaucratic equivalent of Vince Neil's telling the denizens of Duluth that they live in "the craziest damn party town in the world!" But slap-happy speculators drove the profit-challenged firm's stock back into the mid-teens shortly thereafter.

It's been nothing but pain since then.

So, after a year full of press releases touting deals with Russian security-camera stores and other exciting news, how do things look? Not so great. Revenues were up 49%, but the red ink at the bottom line came to $15.5 million. That's pretty grim, considering that total revenues were only $3.8 million.

True believers might want to point out the jump in security revenue from $273,000 to $1.6 million. But before you get too excited about that, realize that the gross margins there are a slim 8.3%. That's worse than at Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), folks. A lot worse. Revenues from the real estate imaging biz -- the segment that yields 50% gross margins -- fell slightly to $2.3 million.

It gets even better. Since Q4 of last year, shareholders have been diluted by 168%. Operating costs came to $10.8 million. I can't wait to see a cash-flow sheet. Wait, I don't have to. Hmmm. Ipix burned $15 million in cash last year. With $13 million in the bank, what do you suppose will happen next?

Unfortunately, for anyone who believed in this at $15 (or $20!), Ipix was never much of a real "defense play," it was actually a trading sardine. Do yourselves a favor and stay far away. There isn't even enough meat left on these bones to make shorting worthwhile.

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Seth Jayson lives not far from Ipix HQ. At the time of publication, he was hoping for a company tour, but he had positions in no firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.

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