Obviously the above headline is meant to stir emotional responses from readers, but could these stocks really be Wall Street's latest round of creative and misleading investment marketing? The rush to the web 2.0, cloud, and to digital delivery has become a mania in my opinion.
Don't just take it from me; a couple of days ago, it was announced on CNBC that over 50% of workers at Wall Street investment banks think Web 2.0 is a bubble (I can't find a source, but it was mentioned on CNBC TV this week). Contrast that sentiment with the analyst ratings on these securities and you get to the conclusion promised in the title of this article -- these stocks look to be mega-cap paid pumps to this author/trader. Academics believe that LinkedIn (LNKD) shares are in a bubble as reported on June 2 on CNBC.
In fact, I am not alone in worrying about dot-bomb 2.0. Sequoia has even mentioned that the good times are not here to stay in the venture capital space. And I am not alone in thinking that many of these companies with no earnings and no book value are trading on pure hype typified in market bubbles.
Amazon (AMZN) stock was overvalued for the last 30% of the recent move higher, and since then some major hurdles have been placed in front of the stock by state governments who want to levy sales taxes on this business. Investors seemed not to care about California's latest law change, which could force Amazon to pay the same 8% or so sales tax that brick and mortar retailers have to pay. This seems fair to me and I am more loyal to the state of California and its solvency than I am to the AMZN bubble. That said, in the short run anything can happen, as this stock trades for over 90X earnings and investors seem not to care at all about the price they pay for the stock. To most speculators here, any price is cheap as long as the stock "keeps going up."
LNKD shares caught a bid as analysts (the same ones who underwrote the IPO) recommended the stock to their clients and to Wall Street via analyst upgrades. We think this is a classic pump and dump move, but then again it seems that the SEC is asleep at the wheel. LNKD shares trade for over 1,100 times earnings. That's pretty much reason enough to go short the name here via short call options, but the stock's borrow rate makes a direct short position fairly expensive to hold.
Netflix (NFLX) is the ultimate momentum stock that will likely unravel at some point in the near future. If you like musical chairs, you will love this stock. Netflix is overvalued at 85X earnings and with the recent price hikes, competition will finally be given some breathing room to play catch-up. Expect subscriber growth to slow rather dramatically as streaming is overrated, in my view. DVDs are still much more convenient than buying another set-top box and streaming movies of which a limited selection is available. Netflix is a good business, but may have bitten off more than it can chew by promoting the shift to internet movie watching, which is counter to the best interests of the movie studios who can sell a Blu-ray for $20 versus handing it over to Netflix to stream for mere pennies. I don't expect studios to hand out free money to Netflix shareholders for very much longer, and think the stock could blow up in the near and long term because NFLX's Starz deal ends in October.
Salesforce.com (CRM) is likely as overvalued as LNKD on earnings, as the company has been on an acquisition spree and the current PE is around 400X. If the business continues the recent trend of lower earnings Q over Q, I expect the stock to return to reality at some point in the very near future. Investors looking to play this thing from the short side should consider selling January $150 calls and buying the January $200 calls for a bear call spread.