It's a shopper's paradise for bargain hunters of Wall Street-traded Israeli companies

Yesterday the Israeli press reported that

ECI Telecom

(ECIL)

was negotiating to take over rival

Orckit Communications

(ORCT)

. Orckit had been doing spectacularly well on

Nasdaq until February, when the bottom fell out. Whether the report is true or not, the logic behind it is clear. Orckit, which in recent months has been savaged by

Wall Street

, is down to a meager market cap of $153 million. At its peak, the company was worth $1.8 billion.

If the rivals do indeed merge, then it must be that ECI's honchos believe Orckit has hit the bottom, so the price can't get better.

But Orckit is just one name on the list. Take for instance the merger completed two weeks ago between

Ness Technologies

and

Sapiens International

(SPNS) - Get Report

, a supplier of solutions for e-business. Back in February, when its market cap stood at $504 million, it was highly unlikely that Ness would manage to squeeze any kind of deal from Sapiens, let alone a merger leaving Ness with a two-thirds share. But that is exactly what happened when Sapiens' market cap dropped to $100 million.

The table further illustrates that Sapiens and Orckit are far from being lonely examples of alluring acquisition opportunities. A lot of Wall Street-traded Israeli-related companies are craning their corporate necks to gaze up at their peak prices. On paper, at least, some could be excellent bargains.

Name

Current value

Peak value

Aladdin

85

450

Arel Communications

68

197

Orckit Communications

153

1,843

ISG Software

110

366

BackWeb Technologies

400

2,230

Gilat Communications

122

530

Jacada

154

669

Level 8

239

682

Magic

208

866

Nova Measuring

133

330

Sapiens

94

504

Formula Systems

380

860

CommTouch Software

285

1,055

Radware

429

1,340

The combined market cap of the above 14 companies is down to $2.85 billion. If you have $3 billion in pocket, you could buy the lot.

Everything is Relative

Three billion dollars may sound like a lot of money. But if you look back to the value of these companies on the eve of the technology sector crisis, you will discover that the same basket would cost you $11.9 billion, or 4.2 times its price today. In other words, the value of these companies shrank by an astonishing 76%.

The table says it all. It brings home the notion that $360 million can help you take over

Formula Systems

(FORTY) - Get Report

(theoretically speaking, of course), that

CommTouch Software

(CTCH)

can be bought, lock, stock and barrel, for a scant $300 million. It further illustrates that

BackWeb Technologies

(BWEB)

is a regular bargain at $400 million (its original market cap being $2.2

billion

), while

Aladdin Knowledge Systems

(ALDN)

and

Arel Communications and Software

(ARLC)

are practically freebies, valued at a total of $150 million.No one is sure, mind you, whether yesterday's prices will ever return. Nor can one promise that their current values are rock bottom. But when Ness Technologies is on the prowl and ECI is snooping around, when rumors are that

Nova Measuring Instruments

(NVMI) - Get Report

has had potential buyers visiting while

Magic Software Enterprises

(MGIC) - Get Report

is buying back its own stock, the majority of companies listed could well do with a "Clearance Sale" tag.