Remember that episode of the Brady Bunch, when Jan whined that she was tired of hearing about her older sister, "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia." Well, this week it's been nothing but Facebook (NAS: FB) , Facebook, Facebook. A lot of the coverage has been extremely negative, but that didn't change our opinion of the social-networking juggernaut. Just yesterday, we bought shares in the company.
This week we've devoted our entire review article to all of the coverage surrounding Facebook. Here were the big themes that caught our eye:
1. Is Facebook overvalued? A lot of investing commentators seem to think so. Henry Blodget of Business Insider sees Facebook as extremely expensive, especially when compared with Apple (NAS: AAPL) and Google (NYS: GOOG) , which are trading at 10 times and 12 times 2013 earnings per share, respectively. Ultimately, Blodget thinks a "fair price for Facebook might be between $16-$24." NYU Business school professor Aswath Damodaran values the company anywhere from $20 to $29, though he admits that he's more comfortable at the middle and lower end of the range.
Takeaway: The problem with models is that they are models. We believe that models can be useful, but they are only tools. Fool co-founder David Gardner once shared a story about why he continued to like Chipotle (NYS: CMG) even though many thought it was overvalued and was becoming more so. David said, however, that as soon as Chipotle opened its ShopHouse concept, most models became wrong. Facebook has lots of options ahead of it. That's how we are viewing the valuation challenge.
2. A comeuppance for ordinary investors? Did the ordinary investor get played by Wall Street? And did he deserve his fate? Those were questions pursued by Fool analyst Morgan Housel and Reuters polymath Felix Salmon. Addressing ordinary investors who jumped in early on Facebook, Morgan said, "You have no one to blame but yourself, folks." Salmon said similarly, "If you pay 100X earnings for a hyped Internet stock on its first day of trading and then you lose money, you frankly had it coming."
Takeaway: Whether or not investors have actually lost money reminds me of what Chou En Lai once said when asked what he thought of the French Revolution: "It's too early to say." Motley Fool co-founder Tom Gardner underlined this point by saying, "I don't think we can say that a bad taste has been left in the mouths of investors already. To be an investor, I believe you have to look at least 3-5 years forward."
3. Will Facebook collapse and take down the Internet? We're bullish on Facebook, but one of the best pieces we read was extremely bearish. In The Facebook Fallacy, Michael Wolff said he believes it's a fallacy that the Web can be a more efficient advertising medium than traditional media. And he thinks Facebook is at the "heart of this fallacy." He concludes with the worrying thought, "If you wanted to bet on someone succeeding in the marketing business, you'd bet on technologists only if they could invent some new way to sell; you wouldn't bet on them to sell the way marketers have always sold."
Takeaway: Wolff has a solid argument. But what if Facebook, with all of the data it is collecting, is about more than ads? What if it does develop a new way to sell? Its hacker culture is not afraid to test and learn. As an example, look how many times eBay (NAS: EBAY) has changed the rules for its platform, creating a massive uproar but no mass exodus. We could be wrong, but we are willing to make a small bet as we watch Facebook evolve over time.
Just six years ago, Yahoo! considered acquiring Facebook for $900 million. And now the company is valued at approximately $90 billion. That's an astronomical increase in value that is mind-boggling to consider. We suspect the company has some pretty solid growth ahead of it, and that's why we now have some skin in the game.
See you next week, Fools! Don't forget to follow us @10-Bagger Stocks on Twitter for all of the latest information relating to our portfolio. And don't forget to add each of the companies mentioned above to your very own My Watchlist so you can track them and monitor their progress.
At the time thisarticle was published John Reeves owns shares of Apple, Google, and Chipotle. David owns shares of Apple.The Motley Fool owns shares of Chipotle, Apple, Facebook, and Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Chipotle, eBay, Apple, and Google, as well as creating a bear put spread position in Chipotle and a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.
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