Eastman Kodak shares jumped more than 26 percent and closed as the top gainer on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday as investors were drawn to the potential value of its patent portfolio.
Kodak, which said in July it was shopping around a portion of its patents related to digital imaging, is luring investors who are just starting to grasp how much money its patents could sell for, analysts said.
Tech patents, particularly ones for mobile devices, took the spotlight when Google said Monday that it would buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in a deal that includes all the handset maker's patents.
Kodak has 7,626 patents and has filed 2,082 applications for patents, according PatentVest, a patent database run by MDB Capital.
Of the top 30 companies with more than 7,600 patents, Kodak has the smallest market capitalization by far at $723.7 million, a seeming bargain for investors, said MDB's chief executive Christopher Marlett.
The next smallest company by market cap on the list of top patent holders is Micron Technology Inc, which dwarfs Kodak's market value at $6.13 billion.
Marlett said investors now see Kodak as one of the few companies that can offer intellectual property to tech firms looking to shore up their mobile patents portfolios.
"There are very few portfolios of intellectual property that relate to the mobile device space that are up for sale," he said. "My belief is that the bidding for Kodak's portfolio will be every bit as aggressive as it was for the Nortel sale."
Bankrupt Nortel Networks' broadband and networking patents fetched up to $4.5 billion in an auction in June. A group of six companies -- Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion , EMC, Ericsson and Sony Corp -- won the auction.
Rafferty Capital markets analyst Mark Kaufman said the group that won the Nortel assets, along with Google, might still be interested in Kodak patents.
The tech companies will need Kodak's digital imaging patents to avoid patent infringements when they design phones or tablets with cameras, he said.
"It's been hard until now to get people to focus on Kodak's patents. But go put out a phone or tablet without a camera and see how hard it is to be successful," Kaufman said.
Kodak did not respond to requests for comment. The company's shares closed 25.7 percent higher at $2.69.
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