BroadVision Demonstrates the Dangers of Self-Serving Newsletter Services


It's been two-and-a-half months since I last wrote about enterprise applications software provider BroadVision (NAS: BVSN) , and wow have things taken a complete 180 since my last discussion.

As a quick recap, my biggest concern with BroadVision's 600% run higher was that it was fueled by a steady stream of speculative newsletters from the National Inflation Association. The NIA, over many months of releasing newsletters, as well as concurrently purchasing and selling BroadVision's stock (as it would disclose on its website), made claims that BroadVision had potential tie-ins with Facebook (NAS: FB) and that its Clearvale software was on par with Jive Software's (NAS: JIVE) enterprise platform and thus deserved a similar valuation.

These claims would come under fire on numerous occasions by bloggers, an upstart investment group known as the Association of International Deflation Society, and me. Now that trading has relaxed and the NIA has backed off its approach of backing BroadVision weekly through emails, we're beginning to see that those fears were well founded and that all of the warning signs have been in place from the start.

One warning sign I've been waving the yellow flag about for months has been BroadVision's deteriorating sales. In order for BroadVision to focus on its next generation of product, which is code word for the Clearvale enterprise platform, the company has had to invest heavily in its development, which has even included giving away the software for free. As its legacy product sales wind down with Clearvale producing no significant revenue to date per the company's quarterly filing, you can expect the 11-year sales decline to continue.

Another dead giveaway has been the success of BroadVision's peers while it continues to falter. Jive, for instance, reported a 58% rise in revenue in its latest quarter while gaining big, new customers with strong cash flow, including health-benefits company Aetna and online educator Bridgepoint Education (NYS: BPI) , to name a few. Privately held companies like Yammer and Lithium Technologies are also signaling strong growth. As for BroadVision, its clientele list is made of up of much smaller and lesser-known companies.

This leads me to my final point: I think that the NIA's ideas were quite imaginative, but lacked true substance. I questioned the validity of the NIA's argument as early as February when it was discovered that there were possible tie-ins between the NIA and formerly convicted stock promoter Jonathan Lebed. Now that we can really make an apples-to-apples comparison between Jive and BroadVision regarding the quality of customers, as well as place BroadVision side by side with its public and private peers, it's become apparent how far behind the curve BroadVision is and ultimately how off-base the NIA's argument appears.

The truly sad part is that countless shareholders were suckered in for the ride and now are stuck in a position where they purchased shares at a much higher price with the promise of quick riches from the NIA.

But if there's anything to learn from BroadVision, it's of the dangers of non-reputable newsletter services. If you look at companies the NIA has endorsed previously, including BroadVision and Ocean Power Technologies, they have largely wound up trading lower within a few months following the NIA's endorsement. Not surprisingly as well, the NIA often holds large positions in the stocks it recommends prior to releasing its endorsement with the disclaimer that it can add and sell its position anytime it pleases. That makes me feel concerned for shareholders of the NIA's latest endorsement, Synacor (NAS: SYNC) , a provider of online content and authentication services.

All I can say is, stay vigilant, be inquisitive, understand what you're invested in, and never be afraid to ask questions!

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.The Motley Fool owns shares of Bridgepoint Education. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing puts on Bridgepoint Education. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that always has your best interests in mind.

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