Rambus stock spikes on Micron plea reports

Shares in the chipmaker rise on high volume following news reports of a possible plea deal between rival Micron and government investigators over price-fixing allegations.

Paul Festa Staff Writer, CNET News.com
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Paul Festa
Shares of memory maker Rambus continued to rise Wednesday as investors reacted to reports of a possible plea deal between rival Micron Technology and federal investigators.

Rambus shares rose $3.27, or more than 12 percent, to close at $29.77 Tuesday, following a Monday story by Bloomberg reporting that Micron might admit to price-fixing amid a broader grand jury probe. Shares were up another 3.6 percent, or $1.08, to $30.85 in midday trading Wednesday.

Micron has enjoyed surprisingly good financial health recently, even as the price-fixing inquiry threatens to embroil the company. This month the Boise, Idaho-based company posted first-quarter net income of $1 million on sales of $1.1 billion. That compares with a $316 million net loss on sales of $685 million in the same period a year earlier.

But the probe, launched in July 2002 to investigate an unusual, late 2001 spike in memory prices, is forming clouds on Micron's horizon.

Earlier this month, a former regional sales manager agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of justice in the investigation. The manager was charged with altering his handwritten notes relating to telephone conversations among Micron sales managers discussing memory price recommendations. The manager has since resigned.

Micron representative David Parker said Wednesday that the company wouldn't comment on the ongoing federal investigation, but he said it had cooperated with the government since the beginning of the probe and would continue to do so "as appropriate."

CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.