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Rambus revenues, earnings plummet

Big quarter-on-quarter falls driven by downturn in DRAM prices

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Rambus yesterday reported a 25 per cent quarter-on-quarter drop in Q3 revenues as the decline in the memory market led to a big cut in the memory company's royalty income.

Income was down over 52 per cent on the company's previous quarter.

Revenue for the three months to 30 June totalled $23.3 million, an increase of 31 per cent on the same period last year. In the intervening months - and backed by legal threats - Rambus licensed its SDRAM and RDRAM memory patents to a number of RAM makers, so that increase isn't entirely surprising.

Nor was the fall of 25 per cent on the previous quarter's revenues. It's contract revenue fell more than half, from $7.6 million to $3.5 million. Had Rambus not recognised $2.1 million last quarter that it subsequently failed to make thanks to a cancelled contract and so had to knock off this quarter's revenue, its contract business would have seen a slight increase.

Not so with RDRAM and SDRAM royalties, which fell 16 per cent quarter on quarter, a result of "the significant price declines in the industry in the first calendar quarter", the company said.

Rambus said the money it lost due to falling RDRAM prices was easily balanced by the extra royalties gained by increased RDRAM volumes. So the decline was down to the collapse in SDRAM prices.

As DDR SDRAM volumes increase, royalties from licensees should increase too, but how sustainable that revenue strand will be depends on the outcome of Rambus' ongoing legal action. During the last quarter it spent $8.8 million fighting Infineon and Micron, both of whom have refused to pay it DDR SDRAM-related royalties. This time last year it spend $1.7 million on legal fees; last quarter is spent $7.3 million.

Excluding such costs, Rambus earned $3.9 million during Q3, down from $8.2 million last quarter and the $4.8 million in made during Q3 2000.

Don't expect any improvement in the near future. Rambus warned that its revenues are set to fall a further 20 per cent quarter on quarter, as will show when it reports its Q4 figures in October. ®

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