Cypress squeezes a bit hard in its bear hug

Contact:  Thejeswi Venkatesh, Ben Kolada

Having increased its offer to buy rival Ramtron International once already, Cypress Semiconductor may have to get ready to do so again. Ramtron’s board unanimously rejected Cypress’s latest bid of $2.68 per share, claiming the deal undervalued the company. Investors continue to agree with Ramtron. Shares of the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based company have consistently traded above Cypress’s unsolicited offer, closing at $3.08 Thursday. That’s about 15% higher than the raised bid.

Cypress’s new offer values Ramtron at 1.4 times trailing sales, only a smidgen above the 1.3 times valuation Ramtron received in Cypress’ initial bid. In comparison, Cypress’s revised offer is also far below its own valuation of about 2.2x trailing revenue.

If Cypress doesn’t come up with a topping bid, it risks losing Ramtron to a competitor. There are already other obvious suitors – most notably STMicroelectronics and Atmel – that have shown both the ability and willingness to make sizable acquisitions. STM ended the March quarter with $1.9bn in cash on its balance sheet while Atmel ended it with $299m. In February 2008, Atmel bought microcontroller designer Quantum Research Group for $88m while STM’s biggest deal to date was its purchase in April 2008 of NXP Semiconductors’ wireless semiconductor business for $1.5bn.