A decent day in tech trading, with both the Morgan Stanley “Big 35” tech benchmark and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index up from week-long lows. Maybe it’s the first day of the quarter and people are just glad the last one is over, or maybe the July 4th margaritas are going down early. I’m just glad to see a breather in the sliding Dow, as investors continue to search for a bottom. An informal sample of financial news sites today suggests that we are in a bottom, but nobody seems to sure how long it will last. Hey, at least nobody’s talking about a depression for once.
Two pieces of interesting tech news. One is Yahoo, which saw its stock slide below the $20 level – the first time that’s happened since this whole Yahoo-Microsoft merger song-and-dance. Not good news for Yahoo shareholders – remember that Microsoft offered over $30 a share for the company back in February (and probably would have gone as high as $34 per share).
The other eye-opener is Vonage, which seems to be having trouble raising capital at a time when wireless carriers like T-Mobile are moving in on the web-based phone call market. T-Mobile’s @Home, for example, is set to roll out next week. The home-based phone service should attract lots of subscribers at $10 a month – half of what Vonage is charging. Of course, both prices are well below the $65 a month that the typical home phone line user pays.
Not that Vonage is celebrating. This company’s been snake-bit since its initial public offering in 2006, when its stock barely climbed over its $17 opening bid. Now, it’s having a tough time closing a financing deal with an unnamed financier, triggering fresh doubts among big investors about Vonage’s short term prospects. The private financing deal is rumored to be about $215 million, which Vonage needs to refinance $253 million in convertible debt that’s owed out this December.
Vonage is blaming the current credit market, which is tighter than a tick. "Given the current credit market, due diligence can take time. So it's been extended for some more time," a Vonage spokesman told Reuters.
Wall Street treated the news coldly, with Vonage shares falling $3 to $1.75 in early Tuesday trading.
My take? Investors and subscribers have never warmed up to Vonage’s marketing-heavy business plan. And management seems confused about where Vonage is headed. Oh, and the big wireless carriers are moving in on its turf.
But other than that, the company’s doing just fine.