Both have sunk to points even lower than Given Imaging (Nasdaq:GIVN), a newcomer to the market that has yet to generate any sales.
How humiliating is it? Given Imaging raised $300 million in the first IPO on the Street since the September 11 attacks on the U.S. It has since risen to a market cap of $315 million, 20% above the combined market value of Gilat and ECI.
Moreover, while the 2001 revenues for the depreciating duo are expected to reach $1.5 billion generated by 6,000 employees, Given Imaging will be reporting sales of roughly squat.
The shrinkage is astounding. In their heyday of early 2000, ECI and Gilat were together worth a cool $7 billion. Both were stars of the Israeli hi-tech scene. Now they're worth all of $250 million, together. That is 30 times lower than their peak value, and just a tad high than their cash and cash equivalents.
At $58 million value, Gilat's market cap is a third of the $90 million it has in hand. ECI is faring a little better, with a market value of $185 million and $200 million in its till at the end of the second quarter.
ECI and Gilat have something else in common aside from their plunge to dot-size. They hold the dubious record for one-time write-offs, among Israeli companies.
ECI announced massive $243 million charges in the year¿s first quarter. Gilat surpassed it with a surprise third-quarter warning, saying it will be writing off $247 million.
ECI may pick up after the giant write-off. Will Gilat?
Gilat began to hit the rocks in the first quarter of 2001, when it announced a one-time $58.6 million write-off due to bad debt and restructuring.
In the second quarter, when the company reported an additional $20.5 million write-off, the term "one-time" started to lose its meaning, trashing investors faith in management announcements that the write-offs were over.
The recent write-off left investors gawking at its sheer magnitude. There is a bright sided, though: After a write-off of this caliber one can in fact cautiously consider the company¿s claim that there will be no more write-offs, at least not this immense.
ECI's road to hell was a longer, better-reported voyage than Gilat's. It passed through massive write-offs, layoffs of about 1,500 workers and enormous operating losses.
Once past the write-off, ECI began to evince signs of recovery. Its cash-burn rate dropped, revenues increased and it began signing new deals.
None of this helped its share, which has tumbled to its lowest point since May 1990.
ECI swears it's done clearing out its stables. Strict overseeing of its expenses led to improved results in the second quarter.
After Gilat's last write-off, one can only hope it has no more stables left to clean, and that it can tighten spending and finally, increase revenues.