Unlocking Real Value Blog

AK In The News: Facebook Is An Overvalued Bust

I was asked to comment on a poll taken by Ignites (a Financial Times Service) on whether or not Facebook stock, in the face of its bungled IPO, is a near- and long-term bust. 47% of the respondents to the poll said that Facebook is a “bust all the way around.” This contrasts to 20% who gave the same answer to a similar poll question at the end of January.

There’s no question that the IPO has a left a bad taste in many people’s mouths – witness today’s announcement of several shareholder lawsuits against Facebook, its CEO and the banks which underwrote the deal. I think it’s generally agreed that the near-term outlook for the stock is cloudy at best – valuation arguments aside. The relative merits of the long-term outlook are less clear, and there are wide divergences of opinion here. I side with those that believe the long-term outlook for the stock is not pretty either.

There is no question in my mind, however, that the mess that has been made of the IPO is a black eye for both Facebook – although they will recover from a brand perspective over time – and the financial services industry (again). Morgan Stanley is in the cross hairs this time over whether or not they were open with the public about their downgrade for the outlook for the company prior to the IPO. The underwriters are also being criticized for raising the offering the price and number of shares – can anyone say greed?

My quote from the article: “I think both the near- and far-term outlook for the stock is bad. The valuation seems ridiculously high, as the market capitalization is — or was — above many blue-chip stocks with real earnings. We have been here before… and I think people are more reluctant to pay this price given what has gone on the past few years. Skepticism about the company and its future itself have emerged as well as a result of the road show and the IPO.”

Facebook will remain a popular social media tool for the foreseeable future. The company will regain some of the luster that it has lost once this mess fades into the background. The financial services industry will remain under scrutiny for its practices – again. And investors are better served investing in other stocks.

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