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IP protocols/software

Poor Phorm

9:50 AM -- This has been a bad week for Phorm Inc.

On Monday BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) announced it wasn't going to deploy the targeted advertising system vendor's Webwise system, at least for now. That news knocked 26 percent off Phorm's share price, sending it to 350 pence on the London Stock Exchange. (See BT Drops Targeted Ad Plans.)

The vendor reacted by noting it had some overseas engagements, that BT could still deploy its technology in the future, and that it had two other significant U.K. engagements, one with cable giant Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), the other with Carphone Warehouse Group plc (London: CPW), which has just taken its broadband customer base to more than 4 million with the acquisition of Tiscali SpA 's U.K. assets (the deal closed Monday).

Phorm's share price continued to fall during Tuesday's trading, closing at 233 pence, and has taken another haircut today, following the news that The Carphone Warehouse's broadband subsidiary, TalkTalk Telecom, has "terminated its agreement with Phorm." The vendor's share price is currently down 13.4 percent today to 210 pence.

Virgin Media, for the moment at least, "is extending its review of potential opportunities with suppliers, including Phorm, prior to making any commitment to launch any of these technologies," the vendor noted in a statement to the London exchange.

Phorm stressed that it "retains a strong balance sheet with adequate cash resources and the Directors remain very confident in Phorm's ability to deliver on the promise of this substantial opportunity."

The opportunity, at least in the U.K. market, looks rather less substantial today than it did at the end of last week.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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