Vringo Soars 21% Approaching Google Talks; Maxim Ups Target to $10.
By Tiernan Ray
Shares of intellectual property house Vringo (VRNG), which has been suing Google (GOOG) over what it claims are fundamental patents related to Internet search, are soaring today, up 96 cents, or 21%, at $5.50, after a wave of developments in the last few days.
On Friday, the company said it was entering into negotiations with Google after the court ordered it to do so. Then this morning, Vringo said it filed another suit against Chinese phone maker ZTE (0763HK), accusing it of infringing on three European patents.
The shares have retained their strength despite the company announcing a follow-on offering of stock on Friday that will bring in $45 million in cash.
In a note to clients today, Maxim Group’s John Tinker reiterates a Buy rating on Vringo shares, and raises his price target to $10 from $6.50, writing that Vringo appears to have Google in a tight spot going into negotiations and that Google might pay hundreds of millions to Vringo or simply buy them:
The judge stated that GOOG and VRNG must meet tomorrow, Tuesday, October 9, at 10.30am in Norfolk, Virginia to see if they can negotiate a settlement. VRNG‘s expert witnesses are seeking about $696M plus interest for historical licensing and could be asking for another $700M for future royalties (until 2016). GOOG is in a tricky position; if they pay a patent troll, this could open the doors to further cases. On the other hand, a company that professes to “do no evil” should pay a licensing fee for someone else’s idea that they are using, in our opinion. One possible outcome is that GOOG buys VRNG and then uses the patents in turn as a strategic weapon against Microsoft (MSFT) for similar infringement.
Tinker raised his “damages” estimate for any settlement to $1.4 billion, which results in $15 per share in value, based on a Vringo share count of 92.3 million shares.
GOogle shares today are down $12.34, or 1.6%, at $755.31.