SGI: buying low and heading higher

Contact: Brenon Daly

For any company looking to be acquired by Silicon Graphics, we have this rather unorthodox suggestion for how to position the business: declare bankruptcy. We’re kidding – but only a bit. In just the past 10 months, SGI has picked up two companies in wind-down sales. Last April, server vendor Rackable Systems bought the assets of SGI in a bankruptcy sale.

When the deal closed the following month, Rackable took on the SGI name. However, since then, the company has fashioned a new and improved performance, at least in the view of Wall Street. Shares of SGI – a vendor that had gone Chapter 11 twice under its previous incarnation – are up almost 140% since the combination of Rackable and SGI closed in May. That’s more than four times the return that the Nasdaq has posted during the same period.

On a smaller scale, SGI was back bottom-feeding again last week. The company purchased assets from COPAN Systems for just $2m. As my colleague Simon Robinson pointed out in his report on the deal, COPAN had struggled to get businesses to buy into its vision of massively consolidated storage arrays for data-archiving purposes. The startup, however, didn’t have the same difficulty in getting VCs to buy into it. COPAN had raised around $110m in backing since opening its doors in 2002.