Brian.oco 0 Posting Whiz

Rumors are rampant over a proposed Verizon-Nokia deal on a 4G mobile device, as equity options traders snapped up calls (options to buy a given stock at lower prices) in anticipation of a big run-up in Nokia’s stock.

Nokia is trading at: $8.76, up a tick or two from the previous close. Expect that to change in the next few days, unless the companies involved step in an squash the rumors.

Elsewhere, is there money in Star Wars-like t-laser technology?

The Motley Fool things so, and its poster child is Newport Technologies.

I listened to a half-hour broadcast on Newport, with CEO Robert Phillipy on ultra-fast lasers, something the Irvine, Calif.-based company knows something about/. (Check it out at:

Back to the Motley Fool, which sees Newport as a “leader” in the t-laser field. Newport, which is trading at $3.50, down from $6.50 three months ago, describes fast lasers as being used in industries as diverse as scientific research, aerospace and security. Says The Fool, “When it comes to competition there are only few pure players in this field, who competes with Newport in almost all the product category and market classifications. Among them Newport is the largest both in terms of market cap and revenue.”

Competitors aren’t many, but there are some big names; Corning and JDS among them.

So why Newport, a company whose stock fell by half of its value in 2009? The Fool ties light-based technologies into the energy and communications fields, sectors that do after good growth once we’re out of this economic mess. Think telecom and solar, for example. As The Fool attests, there is a good likelihood of increased government R&D funding that will help Newport’s sales numbers.

Newport has been in the midst of a new sales and web front-and back-end redesign, and that might have held the company's revenues back (thus helping to explain the stock slide) but its customer service model is widely praised and it has an improving debt-to-equity ratio.

Says The Fool, “While it's true that Newport reported losses last year, the emphasis here is on reported rather than losses. From a GAAP accounting standpoint, Newport had a very bad year in 2008 -- one made worse by a near-$120 million writedown of goodwill in its laser division.”

“That said, from the perspective of actual, cash-in-the-bank profits, Newport did quite a bit better. How much better will be hard to say until the company files its 10-K for the year, but our back-of-the-envelope math suggests the company generated free cash flow of about $24 million last year. That estimate's supported by Newport's latest balance sheet, which shows nearly $25 million in debt paid off, and an almost $5 million increase in cash and equivalents by year-end.”

“Not bad for a company that analysts expect to grow at about 12% per year over the long term.”