good news when the only analyst following a supposedly hot company pulls the plug on its stock by discontinuing coverage. Such was the case today when
Ram Kasargod did just that with
, a stock he rates a hold. IDC's stock dove on the news and was lately down 9 3/4, or 17.7%, to 45 1/4.
The IDC story -- the one that caused the stock to zoom to a recent high of 82 (giving the company a market cap of around $4 billion) from 5 5/8 just two months ago -- is really very simple. To hear the bulls, IDC is a
wannabe. Thanks to a ruling by the
U.S. Patent Office
, IDC, the bulls say, has the rights to the technology used by all non-CDMA (code division multiple access, or CDMA, is the Qualcomm technology) cellular phones. (For a different twist on the story, see
article from a few weeks ago.) As the chief IDC bull on Internet message boards wrote, that means "2% or 3% of umpteen billions of dollars is . . . That's OURS!"
Kasargod, who started covering the company in July 1997 with a "speculative" rating, isn't so sure. In fact, in a report to clients today, he says he's unclear about the significance of -- and how to value -- IDC's technology. What's more, he's also concerned that the company hasn't replaced its CEO, who resigned in 1997, or its president, who quit last September. In addition, the president's departure was followed by the October resignation of the chief technology officer.
Herb's Latest: Join the discussion on
TSC Message Boards .
About two months ago came news that the Patent Office intended "to affirm" IDC's patents, which led to the launch of its stock and made IDC a hit on certain message boards. Message boards, in fact, have been the only source of information on IDC other than Kasargod's research. Kasargod says he launched coverage of the company because he thought it might have a crack at outperforming the market if it "could demonstrate success in executing its long-term plan." That plan included a contract to install a wireless local loop in the Union of Myanmar (the largest country on the mainland of Southeast Asia), strategic alliances for its cell-phone technology "as the next-generation wireless standard" through alliances with
, and an effort to exploit the licensing potential for its patent portfolio.
By early last year, however, Siemens and Alcatel had dropped out of the alliance and Samsung had stopped making contributions to the plan. The Myanmar project, meanwhile, was terminated because the customer couldn't get financing.
Kasargod couldn't be reached for comment. An IDC spokesman said the company was sorry to hear that Kasargod had dropped his coverage of its stock. The spokesman also said the company plans to replace its CEO at some point in the future. (But when?!) He declined to comment on any message-board or Web-site commentary on IDC.
Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.
Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.