Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Emageon proxy fight settles

Emageon Inc., a medical imaging software maker, said yesterday it will add three new directors to its board as part of the settlement of a proxy contest with Oliver Press Partners LLC.

Two of the new seats will go to Augustus Oliver, principal of OPP LLC, and Benner Ulrich, its director of research. The third seat will also be filled by OPP LLC, but with a infielder-to-be-named-later.

Ulrich and the unnamed infielder will both be on the company's strategic alternatives committee, which is considering alternatives including a sale of the company.

I've heard it said, "the best way to sell stock is to sell a story." I'm not going to buy any Emageon stock (because I don't stock pick, I do my equity investing only via broad-based indices)but ... I do like their story.

When most of us think of "medical imaging," we think of old-school X-rays, or perhaps the sonograms that are nowadays a pre-childbirth ritual. These two sorts of image are still rather mysterious to us non-physicists, but at least they're familiar. The field, though, includes a vast array of techniques and results -- at least five different forms of tomography alone.

Tomography, by the way, involves the imaging of a single plane or slice of an object. A CAT scan is obtained by "computed axial tomography."

Anyway ... if I had been asked not long ago how medical imaging is accessed, I would probably have thought the question pointless. Obviously, somebody has a filing cabinet and keeps all the X-rays and such in there, in proper alphabetical order by name of patient. It could be cumbersome, but surely it isn't very complicated.

I would have been wrong, thinking thus in pre-digitization terms. Emageon as a company grew out of research in imaging performed at the medical center of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in 1997. It produces hardware and software for accessing images.

That's a field in which there ought to be money to be made, which presumably explains the interest of Messrs Oliver and Ulrich. Best of luck to all the parties in the settlement.

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