Acacia Announces Q4 Results

Gretchen Gallen
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Acacia Research Corporation reported licensing profits of $481,000 for the fourth quarter, up $186,000 from the previous quarter, Acacia's Chairman and CEO Paul R. Ryan and President Robert Harris announced on Thursday at the company's corporate earnings conference.

Acacia comprises two operating groups, the CombiMatrix group and the Acacia Technologies Group. Reported earnings for both groups ended on Dec. 31, 2003.

Consolidated CombiMatrix and Acacia revenue for the fourth quarter of 2003 was $534,000 versus $16,000 in the prior year, the company stated, which mainly accounts for profits from DMT licensing contracts and CombiMatrix revenue from a DNA microarray synthesizer system.

Consolidated net loss for the fourth quarter was $5,147,000 compared to $22,223,000 in same period last year.

According to CEO Paul Ryan, Acacia reported 72 new licensing agreements in its fourth quarter, totaling 115 agreements, all of which provide for recurring payments.

And while Acacia continues to focus on a broad array of other industries allegedly infringing on its DMT streaming media technology, the two company executives named CyberHeat as being a recent feather in the company's hat because of the "significant" revenues its subsidiary TopBucks generates within the adult entertainment industry.

Both Ryan and Harris told conference attendees that their DMT licensing program continues to roll out at a nice clip and that Acacia is in negotiations with e-learning institutions, cable companies, sports, news, and entertainment companies, and corporations that use video-on-demand streaming technology.

Ryan also noted that Acacia is currently in licensing talks with all the major sports leagues that use streaming video and audio technology on their websites, including basketball, baseball, football, and even Nascar.

One shareholder asked the two executives what legal milestones are currently facing the company regarding Acacia's patents and their validity.

"We are aware of all the purported prior art and nothing to date causes us any concern," Ryan replied. "We are currently in litigation with adult online companies, many of which were non-responsive," he replied.

Ryan added that the Markman hearing process will take as long as the middle of summer to resolve itself.

"We are down to nine litigants and have added eight," he said. "We are just in the early stages of litigation against online adult."

The only other company Acacia is currently in litigation with is On-Command Corporation, a provider of on-demand video service for hotel rooms. According to Ryan, Acacia was unable to reach an agreement on a royalty rate.

"And we felt it appropriate to protect the integrity of our other licensees and take legal action," he said.

There has been some shareholder grumbling lately over the fact that on Feb. 17, Acacia filed papers to sell up to $50 million in stock and warrants, which dilutes the value of existing shares.

Acacia stated in its filings that it will use the net proceeds for working capital, according to Dow Jones News Service, although speculation continues to abound over what Acacia plans to do with the extra cash, with an already reported $35 million in the bank and $1 million set aside for litigation.

The shares recently sold can consist of Acacia Research-CombiMatrix shares, and Acacia Research-Acacia Technologies stock or warrants, the Dow reports.

Ryan added in the conference call that Acacia is continuing to evaluate opportunities to acquire other patent portfolios and that so far they are closely considering the purchase of two patent portfolios.

Acacia's last trade was $6.17 per share, up from $5.82 at the market's open.