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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 3, 2008 at 10:48 AM

Analyst gives Clearwire “buy” rating

Sid Parakh of McAdams Wright Ragen said today in a note to investors that Kirkland-based Clearwire is not being valued appropriately, and revised the company’s price target up to as much as $28 a share.

In early afternoon trading, Clearwire’s stock was trading around $12.79 a share, or down about 37 cents.

Parakh wrote that if you added up only the value of Clearwire’s spectrum — or airwaves that it owns — it would have an estimated value of about $11 to $25 a share.

Why is it undervalued?

That is “essentially implying that the market is unwilling to assign any value to the company’s network

or growing subscriber base,” Parakh said.

This same topic came up in the last quarterly conference call Clearwire had with Wall Street analysts, who also surmised that the company’s spectrum holdings alone — which are estimated to be second in the country only to Sprint in the 2.5 MHz band — were worth about what the company’s stock was trading at.

A quick back-of-the-napkin calculation can be done to compare it to the upcoming 700 MHz auction. For the “C” block, the reserve price is about 75 cents a MHz-POP. Parakh wrote that that compares with about 25 to 50 cents per MHz-POP that Clearwire paid for its owned portion of U.S. spectrum holdings.

Clearwire has a lower cost of ownership (if all other things remain equal, which they probably don’t…).

However, it seems the company is still being punished for being unable to complete a development deal with Sprint Nextel to jointly build a nationwide network.

On that issue, Parakh said that he was told in a recent meeting with Clearwire’s chief technology officer that the company was confident of its ability to deploy a mobile WiMax system beginning in mid-to-late 2008. Currently, the company is using proprietary equipment to provide wireless broadband technology. That technology is also considered nomadic, but not mobile, because of limitations to its use while moving.

So far, Clearwire is testing mobile WiMax in an extended trial in Portland with the help of Intel. Sprint Nextel has only just begun to run trials of its initial WiMax markets.

“Clearly, we have been wrong on the stock so far, but our estimate of the inherent value of Clearwire’s spectrum assets and our expectation of continued growth in its subscriber base over the long-term leads us to maintain our optimism on Clearwire,” Parakh concludes.

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