Thursday, March 01, 2007

Catching the moment

One of the great challenges of photography is capturing the moment... a momnet like this when a child is standing in a box, hugging her sister while the mother tries to pick the box up. A happy family moment, here on the dark grey streets of Diyarbakir.

One of the complaints about the current generation of digital cameras is that they take a bit of time before they can auto-focus properly, set the aperture and timing and take a shot. Not long usually, but sometimes, just slightly too long.

Well, the company in which I still have shares (and I have never been one to have many shares, given my dreadful experiences with them) is called Omnivision Technologies (OVTI, listed on the Nasdaq). The company made a lot of money designing and manufacturring sensors for cameras on mobile phones and it has a lot of money in the bank. For some reason, the company is not much liked by various parts of the investment community and there seems to be a vast illegal operation by hedge funds to sell the company's shares short. This is a matter which should be investigated and stopped by the SEC, but it is not.

Anyway, the new big hope for the company is a new product called TrueFocus camera with Wavefront Coding technology. The company describes the technology as follows:

"With traditional digital cameras, a major and frequent consumer complaint is that it is nearly impossible to 'catch the moment'; because the camera requires one or more seconds to focus the lens on the chosen subject, there is an unavoidable delay between point and shoot. OmniVision believes that TrueFocus cameras are the first to offer true point-and-shoot capability; because the entire image is always sharp and clear, regardless of where the subject is in the camera's field of view, there is no focus-related time delay.

Because the image is in focus over virtually the entire field of view, with TrueFocus cameras there will be no more pictures lost because the subject has moved before the lens is focused."

It sounds very exciting and what is more the technology is developed to such an extent that the first cameras are already being launched on the mobile-phone market, where the comapny has its traditional markets. It is not sure whether or not the technology will be appropriate for the specialised digital cameras. Other applications will be in the car and CCTV industries amongst others.

The company releases its quarterly figures with a conference call later today. These are usually used as an excuse to attack the company and cause the share price to drop dramatically, but if the expectation is for the TrueFocus technology to sell well in the coming quarters, with good profits, maybe the price will go up.

I am no expert and I know enough about how things go to realise that share prices reflect more expectations and intangibles than real performance. And yet, in some not too distant future I think the share price is going to come good again, will it be tomorrow, after earnings have been announced or in three months time? The price is just under USD 13 and I wouldn't be surprised to see it hit at least USD 18 before the end of the year, a nice 40% increase.

On the other hand, contrary to my feelings of missing out when my fancied horse won last weekend when I had not the money to back it, I am plased to say that the price of some Dutch shares which I sold about a month ago, are now about € 2.00 less than what I sold them for, which is, of course, exactly what you would want to happen. I still sold thenm for slightly less than what I bought them for, but it somehow feels like I have 'won' a thousand euro's!

What chance is there of catching the moment when google has blocked oyur own blog? It has been blocked since this morning, so anything I say about OVTI will look like it has been said in hindsight. Very annoyoing and oh so typical.


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