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TheStreet Open House

What's Not in a Name? Nano

At a time when putting the "nano" prefix in a company's name can spark a speculative frenzy, it's probably an encouraging sign that a publicly traded company with a proven and potentially disruptive technology involving nanotech steers clear of any and all nano labels.

Cambridge Display Technology (OLED), a U.K.-based company whose stock debuted on the Nasdaq last December, is just that company. It's pushing to make its light-emitting polymer technology a fixture in future generations of flat-panel screens used in everything from 40-inch TVs to mobile phones to automobile displays.

But scan its Securities and Exchange Commission filings and you won't find any references to nanotechnology. Even its Web site is free of all but a few sparse uses of the term.

For all its efforts, though, Cambridge often behaves like a nanotech stock. After topping out at $13 on its first day of trading, the stock has languished along with other nanotech plays, and it's subject to bouts of sudden, irrational volatility. On Tuesday, shares fell more than 10% to $7.60 without any announcement or analyst report to trigger the drop.

That kind of volatility isn't unusual for a company involved in emerging technology, especially one laboring to introduce a new standard in a highly competitive field such as electronic displays.

The bulk of Cambridge's revenue has come from licensing fees and royalties from its 69 patents (with another 160 patents for which it has applied) to companies such as LG.Philips (LPL), DuPont (DD) and Dow Chemical (DOW). On May 24, Cambridge announced its first joint venture to supply polymer materials to Sumitomo Chemical.

"Consumers will be drawn to flatter, more vibrant displays that use less power at reasonable prices," says Jonathan Dorsheimer, an analyst at Adams Harkness, which has an investment banking relationship with the company and a market-perform rating on the stock, primarily for its near-term obstacles. "Cambridge Display is still basically a development-stage company. We believe that to gauge its progress, investors are primarily looking for news of company and industry milestones."

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