Before you go and buy LinkedIn (LNKD) shares at the IPO price of $45 - a $4 billion valuation (Ed: Shares are now trading hands at $83), it's worth looking to see what else you could get for the money. So here's my top 5 list of things to buy for $4 billion:
5. Inergy (NRGY). Inergy is an MLP that stores, transports, and markets propane and natural gas. With a market cap of $4.01 billion, it generate vast amounts of cash and has a very stable customer base of people who don't want to freeze in the winter. It currently pays its shareholders $310 million each year in cash distributions, which happens to be more than LNKD's TTM gross revenues.
4. Dun and Bradstreet (DNB). DNB has been in business for 160 years, making money for most of them. It pays a respectable 1.8% dividend and sports an EBITDA of $500 million, which is where LNKD could possibly be if it manages to grow by 1,000%. I bet DNB will be around in for another 50 years. Do you think LNKD will be?
3. Openwave Systems (OPWV), Pets.com, Webvan, etc. Collectively, these companies were once worth about $80 Billion. OPWV, which is just about the only one still traded, has an Enterprise Value of -$17 million. You can have them all, and still have $4.017 Billion in your pocket.
2. 67 Boeing 737 airplanes. Based on Southwest Airline's (LUV) figures, each aircraft generates about $23 million in revenue annually. So you can use 10 airplanes to generate the same revenue as LNKD and use the other 57 to do whatever you like. Maybe commercial airliner dogfights.
1. Donald Trump. According to Forbes, Trump is really only worth $2.7 billion, so you'll have a lot of cash left over. You could easily buy Lady Gaga ($110 million) and Madonna ($300 million), and Queen Elizabeth ($500 million) along with him. Think of the fun you could have together.
Disclosure: I will probably buy LNKD puts as soon as they're traded.