SAN FRANCISCO -- Times are tough for semiconductor stocks. But nowhere is the pain more acute than at memory chip maker Qimonda ( QI). On Wednesday, the company's stock was trading at 19 cents, which means it's down a staggering 98% from its 52-week high. With the DRAM market suffering one of its worst downturns in years, and some of Qimonda's most attractive assets having recently been snapped up by Micron ( MU), Wall Street seems to have concluded that what's left of Qimonda is essentially worthless. Qimonda's market cap is now a miniscule $65 million. Meanwhile, Germany's Infineon Technologies ( IFX), which spun off Qimonda as a separate company in 2006, is having difficulties unloading the 77% stake it still owns in the troubled chipmaker even with its rock-bottom valuation. On Tuesday, Infineon CEO Peter Bauer reportedly told journalists in Germany that the company is still in negotiations to sell its Qimonda stake. According to a Dow Jones Newswires report, Bauer said there are fewer than five potential buyers, whom he declined to name, for the Qimonda stake. Qimonda's stock sank 52% on Tuesday, or 21 cents, to close at 19 cents. The stock experience a massive spike in trading volume on Tuesday -- more than 18 times the average volume in the past three months -- which suggests that a large investor may have given up on the stock and dumped its shares. The company's 52-week high of $9.90 was attained last Oct. 31.
Earlier this month, Micron announced a deal to purchase Qimonda's stake in a DRAM manufacturing joint-venture with Nanya for $400 million. The deal leaves Qimonda with a pair of chip factories in Virginia, and a fab in Germany. Those assets are not exactly hot properties, given and cost disadvantages of operating a factory in Germany vs. a location in Asia, and the fact that one of Qimonda's fabs in Virginia is based on older-generation 200mm equipment. As for Qimonda's stock, its new lows could trigger in an additional twist of fate. Under New York Stock Exchange rules, a company has about seven months to trade under $1 before the exchange will move to delist it. Of course, Qimonda is in such bad shape operationally - the company has lost $2.3 billion so far this year and is cash flow negative - that seven months may be longer than it can survive as a going entity.