Rambus Owners Can't Catch a Break

Rambus (NAS: RMBS) investors just can't catch a break.

Shares of the memory technology researcher plunged 10% overnight as the company released first-quarter results. Rambus met Wall Street's revenue targets with sales of $62.9 million, but the $0.25 net loss per share was worse than expected.

The stock now trades at a nine-year low excluding last November's plunge, which was deeper than James Cameron's submarine adventures, but only lasted a few hours. All told, Rambus investors have lost 75% of their investment over the last year.

With operating expenses north of $80 million in the quarter, Rambus is running on negative operating margins. On the other hand, the company tends to generate some cash even when the bottom line turns red, thanks to a healthy dose of tax-reducing amortization and depreciation charges that don't actually burn any cash. And with more cash than debt on the books, Rambus can afford to hold out for changing fortunes for a very long time.

To that end, the company recently appealedthat disastrous court decision that crushed the shares last fall. Memory chip builders Micron Technology (NAS: MU) and Hynix currently owe Rambus nothing for alleged anticompetitive actions taken more than a decade ago, but they could be on the hook for more than $12 billion if the appeals work out the way Rambus is hoping for. That's a game-changing, life-saving payout, and the company would be insane not to throw every Hail Mary in its arsenal to make it happen.

But right now, investors are giving up hope. Multi-year lows even after Rambus filed the appeal don't signal a lot of confidence. Personally, I'm quite comfortable owning Micron shares until the courtroom drama plays out. But if the looming risks in Rambus and Micron scare you senseless, The Fool has found a no-brainer growth company worthy of being called "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." Click here to learn more, but hurry while the report is still totally free.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorAnders Bylundowns shares in Micron but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. Check outAnders' holdings and bio, or follow him onTwitterandGoogle+. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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