Light Reading

Corvis Stock Tanks

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading

Message boards are buzzing, and Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV) officials are clamming up, as the company's stock goes ballistic -- in the wrong direction.

Over the last two days, Corvis shares have lost roughly 40 percent of their value, as the average daily volume has nearly doubled.

Numerous calls to Corvis's press relations and investor relations departments, placed last night and this morning, were not returned.

At 1:30 p.m. today, Corvis shares were trading off nearly 15 percent, at about $32. More than 5 million shares of Corvis had already been traded on Friday, almost twice the normal average daily volume of 2.6 million shares. Shares of Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR), two stocks in the same group, were up 3 percent and down 4 percent, respectively.

Contributors to several message boards, including Yahoo Finance, circulated rumors that Corvis has lost a major customer. That would be a major blow, as the company has announced only one paying customer so far.

Corvis shares have always been volatile, in part because 91 percent of the shares are still tied up among insiders, who cannot yet sell their shares on the market. But the losses and the trading volume of the last two days are larger than usual. Corvis officials have said in the past that they expect insider shares to be unlocked for selling in January of 2001.

In its last quarterly conference call, Corvis Chairman and CEO David Huber said all of the company's revenue was derived from field trials and commercial shipments with Broadwing Communications (NYSE: BRW). The field trial with Williams Communications Group (NYSE: WCG) is "progressing as scheduled" and is expected to convert to revenue in the fourth quarter of 2000, said Huber. The company has plans to announce additional customers in the fourth quarter.

Of course, it's too early to say that the successful conversion of one customer means Corvis deserves its multibillion-dollar market capitalization -- which has greatly contributed to the risk and volatility in the stock price. Corvis must convert the rest of its customers to meet the $300 million in revenue that management has projected for the year 2001.

In addition to Broadwing and Williams, Corvis has announced a contract with Qwest Communications International Corp. (NYSE:Q), which is not expected to result in revenue until the second half of next year.

-- R. Scott Raynovich, executive editor, Light Reading

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