Tiny Microvision (MVIS ) is finding larger takers for its minute scanners. Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ ) Ethicon Endo Surgery unit, a leader in endoscopic instruments, just signed an $11.7 million deal with Microvision to develop a laser scanner installed at the end of a probe used in endoscopic surgery. CEO Ric Rutkowski says Microvision's mini laser eye emits bright color and sharp images projected on a screen. He says the J&J pact will give Microvision $6.2 million for a prototype and the remaining $5.5 million upon approval.
James Fitzpatrick, founder of Princeton Capital Management, which owns shares, says he is impressed by the company's tiny scanners and its partnering with such customers as the U.S. Army, J&J, Canon (CAJ ), and Honda (HMC ). And Microvision, now at 5.15 a share, has a hidden asset: It owns 33% of Lumera (LMRA ), a designer of molecular structures and polymer compounds for nanotechnology uses. Based on Lumera's stock price of 6, the stake is worth about $32.4 million, or 1.50 a share in Microvision stock, figures Rutkowski.
He sees Microvision in the black in 2006 on sharply higher sales. In 2005 the company will show a loss, but analysts see sales of over $20 million vs. 2004's $11 million.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.
By Gene G. Marcial