Bernstein Research and WSJ say that the company’s patent value is up to three times greater than its current market cap
A credible news source is reporting that the liquidation value of the patent portfolio and other IP rights of beleaguered telecommunication equipment company, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), is worth as much as $6B.
Alcatel-Lucent, which current is trading at $1.12 per share at the close on Friday, has about 28,000 patents, many the best of which according to IP CloseUp sources have already been licensed. Back in February it also tried to license patents through defensive patent aggregator RPX (NASDAQ: RPXC).
According to a chart that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on December 7 attributed to FactSet and Bernstein Research , the intellectual property liquidation value of Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent is 3B to 4.5B euros or, at $.131 USD per euro, about $3.9B to $5.9B USD. It is not clear if this figure includes equity associated with the Alcatel-Lucent brand or trade secrets.
Alcatel-Lucent still hold some patents based on research conducted at famed AT&T Bell Labs. Lucent was established in 1996 and sold to Alcatel in 2006.
According to patent valuation experts the estimated value of the ALU IP rights could be even further afield than the $2.4B-$2.6B estimate for bankrupt Kodak’s patents. (It was announced last week that the Kodak portfolio is about to be sold for $500M to a “consortium of bidders” as part of a refinancing deal by a group led by JP Morgan Chase and UBS.) The heavily encumbered and much shopped Kodak portfolio could not generate auction bids of much higher than $150M.
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Inflated values for patents of public companies in search of a higher stock price help no one.
Do analysts and the media really believe they can throw around valuation numbers without consequence or support? The sale of Nortel’s uniquely overpriced portfolio for $4.5B in 2011 to a group led by Apple, Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony and RIM was an anomoly. It has skewed expectations about the real world value of patents.
For analysts to suggest that patent may be worth several or more times than they can reasonably generate is arguably irresponsible and a disservice to shareholders and innovators alike.
It could hurt more than help these companies and their investors in the long run, as attempts are made to establish more accurate prices and efficient markets for intangible assets worldwide.
Illustration source: mobile-web.me
Disclosure: Neither Brody Berman Associates nor Bruce Berman owns shares of Alcatel-Lucent or holds a position, long or short.