A Few IP Stocks Shined in 2014; Most Declined, Some Significantly

Size helped in 2014 when it came to public IP licensing company stock performance, but it did not assure success.

As a group, the twelve companies in the PIPX Public IP Performance Index out-paced the S&P 500 for the 4Q 2014 9.1% to 4.4%, with Neonode, Tessera and InterDigital leading the way, all with 4Q gains in excess of 30%.  Marathon, under $100M in market cap for most of 2014 and not represented on the graph below, was up 17% for the quarter and 167% for the year.

2014PIPX4QFor the year 2014, however, companies in the index fare much worse, with PIPX companies generating a collective return of just 4.3% vs. 11.4% for the S&P 500. Tessera and InterDigital were notable performers each with 40% returns for the year. Rambus and Acacia were up about 17% each.

Eight of the twelve companies in the PIPX, which is provided to IP CloseUp by Dr. Kevin Klein of Freescale Semiconductor, were down, led by ParkerVision, VirnetX and Vringo. RPX was down 18.5% for the year and WiLAN 11.3%.

The PIPX is weighted by value or market capitalization, so poor performance by smaller companies has less of an overall impact on index performance.2014PIPXyr

Conclusions? 

It is difficult to draw too many conclusions from this, the first year of the PIPX. Investors tended to reward higher value stocks, but size was not a guarantee of performance, with RPX and others down against both the index and S&P 500.

It’s important to recognize that despite uncharacteristic pressure on patent values due to legislative reform and judicial decisions, good assets have continued to hold value. With the recent Rockstar settlements and sale of 4,000 patents to RPX, we could be at or near the pricing bottom, depending on the nature of 2015 patent reform.

A few small stocks bucked the trend, notably Marathon (MARA), which was not on the PIPX list because it was under $100M in market cap for most of the year. It is now at $110M and is being added. MARA ended the year up 167%. I’m pleased to say that Brody Berman Associates, my firm, helped to develop with the company’s early messaging.

Other companies not in the index performed poorly and their results can be readily tracked on he IP CloseUp 30 found here. (Paste the URL onto you home screen or desktop for easy, real-time monitoring of the public IP sector.)

Image source: Freescale Semiconductor

About Bruce Berman

IP trend spotter, consultant and author.

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