(By Rich Bieglmeier) Vringo's (VRNG) stock price took a pretty good hit yesterday thanks to settlement court proceedings. At first, Google's (GOOG) team accidentally filed figures that might have included worldwide sales. GOOG resubmitted lower and more accurate numbers later.
Vringo's attorneys argue that it is not their fault the whiz kids at Google can't add and that the original numbers should stand. It appears the judge prefers the "correct" numbers, and that's probably why VRNG gave up close to a dollar on Tuesday.
Let's rewind a bit. In our original VRNG story, iStock dusted off the dusty 10-key calculator and wrote:
"Let's do some math together. The clock for the suit started on September 15, 2005. Since then, Google has done nearly $160 billion in revenue. That's roughly $153 billion using Google's 96% of revenue 10Q figures. The suit only covers US revenue, chopping the number in half, which means somewhere around $75 billion of Google's sales are subject to back dated royalty payments, should the tech monster be on the wrong side of the decision.
Vringo seeks a reasonable royalty payment in the lawsuit. What's a reasonable royalty fee? That's the billion dollar question. But for our purposes, we will use 0.5% to a max of 5%; although, we don't feel the company will hit the 5% jackpot. The calculator says a positive outcome could range between $375 million and $3.75 billion."
Our figure could be too hot, too cold, or just right, but we believe it is in the ballpark. Based on Vringo requested settlement of $696 million, it appears the company was shooting for a 1% backdated royalty fee, putting the revenue subject to judgment a $69 billion.
For those of you following along for the past two months, you'll know that Google believes $696 million is about $200 million too high. Using our 1% royalty guesstimate, we come up with $49.6 billion subjected to a possible settlement – remember, neither figure includes future royalties through 2016.
It's time for the calculator, again. For the first six months of 2012, Google generated $21.6 billion in revenue, of which $20.7 billion came from advertising, and $10.57 billion from the United States. To gauge what future royalties might look like, we see that 95.8% of revenues come from the technology in question. Ninety-five point eight percent of $10.57 billion equals $10.41 billion.
If revenues and percentage remain constant in the next 3.5 years, that's another $36.43 billion in revenue that could be subjected to royalty fees. Of course, Google is likely to continue growing. At a 1% royalty fee, that adds another potential $360 million to the roughly $496 million figure the settlement judge appears to favor.
Add 'em up, and it totals $856 million, and in line with previous settlements. On August 13th, we noted, "Vringo's management team has success in previous litigation. David L. Cohen, Special Counsel, won a $715 million settlement, plus ongoing royalties, for patent infringement from Apple Inc. (AAPL : 640.75, 3.6) while at Nokia Corporation (NOK : 2.565, -0.12). While at NTP, Donald E. Stout, Director & Chair, was a part of a $612.5 million settlement with Blackberry."
The number of VRNG shares outstanding seems to change from day-to-day, but the latest figure according to Motley Fool is 92.3 million shares. With iStock's $856 million figure, the stock is worth $9.27 in cash per share. However, if Vringo gets the winning hand, we feel it will trade at a premium - how much is hard to say.
There is a lot of chatter on the web that Google would be better off buying Vringo and using the patents to go after others; sort of a game of patent lawsuit tag – fun stuff. In all likelihood management would want a premium above cash value, perhaps in the neighborhood of $12.50 to $15 per share.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, court is scheduled to start on October 16th. However, we continue to believe a pre-trail settlement is in the best interest for Google and Vringo. iStock puts it at better than 50% odds the disagreement will be settled prior to a verdict.