Trading binary plays is not for the faint of heart. The recent rise and fall of ParkerVision (NASDAQ:PRKR) showed us how crazy these affairs can be.
Here's a quick recap. A couple of weeks ago, a jury concluded that ParkerVision's patents in its case against Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) were valid and that Qualcomm infringed on every single one. In the blink of an eye, PRKR shares rocketed from around $3.00 to over $7.00, but the joy PRKR shareholders felt would prove fleeting.
The court still had to determine damages. Considering the positive news from the first phase of the patent case, the possibility of ParkerVision being awarded treble damages due to willful infringement on Qualcomm's end seemed quite real. Alas, the jury awarded ParkerVison $173 million in damages for Qualcomm's infringement, a figure significantly lower than many analysts and investors expected. PRKR shares were subsequently dumped back into the market as quickly as they had been snapped up earlier in the week.
When it comes to binary plays, investors go in headlong. They either win or lose and there is no middle ground. With that in mind, I'd like to look at two different stocks that are both facing binary events, but are not strictly binary plays. I submit that these stocks carry similar upside to that of ParkerVision, while providing a safer floor due to their other revenue producing businesses.
Marathon Patent Group (NASDAQ:MARA) - The Troll with Two Faces
The patent licensing company, Marathon Patent Group, has two business segments.
1) An IP services business, which provides clients with advice and services to help them attain a financial and strategic return on their intellectual property rights and ...
2) An IP licensing and enforcement Business, which acquires patent assets, partners with patent holders and monetizes patent portfolios through actively managed patent licensing campaigns. With 33 currently active lawsuits against 42 defendants, Marathon looks ready to run quite the binary event circuit.
One of the company's active licensing campaigns, called CyberFone Systems, LLC Database Portfolio, has 18 named defendants involved in court cases and is homing in on an additional 50 targets. Another of its active licensing campaigns, known as Sampo IP Social Media Portfolio, has filed numerous complaints within the past year, including complaints against Siemens Energy, Coldwell Banker, Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Sony Computer Entertainment America. What's more, within this past year, Marathon has also filed a second complaint against some other big names, including E*Trade Financial Corporate Services Inc. (NASDAQ:ETFC), Liberty Mutual Inc., Avon Products Inc. and Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX).
Unlike ParkerVision, however, Marathon is not strictly a binary play. The company owns patents over three different portfolios that are all generating revenue. What's more, last week the company acquired a portfolio consisting of four U.S. patents related to the process automation in production and enterprise resource planning (ERP). As Marathon looks to face a series of binary events down the road with its numerous patent litigations, their revenue producing patents provide a hedge for shareholders in case things go awry as we saw with ParkerVision.
Similarly, there is a Vancouver-based company likely to face a significant binary event in the near future that has also been building revenues through another business segment.
Zecotek Photonics Inc. (OTCPK:ZMSPF) - Scanning For Signs of Life
Zecotek, a developer of leading-edge photonics technologies for medical, industrial and scientific markets, maintains three operating businesses.
1) Zecotek Imaging, which develops high resolution imaging products and components for the medical and industrial fields.
2) Zecotek Lasers, opto-electronics devices for the medical and optical data processing industries and ....
3) Zecotek Display, the company's proprietary display technology that provides 3-D multiple-views without glasses and is aimed at the medical, industrial and consumer markets.
Back in 2006, Zecotek received U.S. patent No. 7,132,060, which covers the substances and chemical formulations used to grow lutetium fine silicate scintillation, or LFS crystals. As Brian Marckx noted in his recent write-up on the company, Zecotek is the only company in the world to own all key elements (i.e. scintillation crystals, solid-state MAPD photo detectors and a data acquisition board and readout system) for a high performance positron emission topography (PET) scanner.
Zecotek is now alleging that Saint-Gobain's LYSO crystals infringe Zecotek's No. 7,132,060 patent and that Philips (PHG) infringes by using those crystals in the PET medical scanning devices it currently sells.
This past summer, Zecotek completed a Markman Hearing for their patent lawsuit against Saint-Gobain Corp and Phillips. However, the date of the court's decision has yet to be specified. Like we saw with ParkerVision, the prospect of willful infringement is also in play here too. While these aspects of the Zecotek story are attractive to me, right now I am more intrigued with what the company is doing in terms of strategic partnerships and building revenues.
In July 2013, Zecotek signed a joint collaboration partnership agreement with Hamamatsu Photonics. With approximately $1 billion in annual sales, Hamamatsu is the world's leading supplier of opto-electronics components, including photo multiplier tubes and photo-diodes used in positron emission tomography (PET) medical scanners by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) projects and other industrial and scientific applications. Later that month, Zecotek received a $500,000 LFS Scintillation Crystal order from Hamamatsu.
Together, Zecotek and Hamamatsu are currently attending the Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference in Seoul Korea, where they are showcasing Zecotek's patented imaging technologies including an assembled integrated detector module composed of LFS arrays and corresponding solid-state MAPD photo detectors. I am very interested to see what develops from this conference, as Zecotek will be meeting with positron emission tomography OEMs and representatives from CERN as well.
Trading on binary events is basically a coin flip. As investors, we either win or lose. ParkerVision definitely showed us the ugly side to this equation. Moving forward, both Marathon and Zecotek look like they will present us with new opportunities to trade on binary events, while possibly providing us safer floors due to their other revenue producing business segments.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.