Certain areas of the stock market right now are significantly overvalued if Bernanke (a.k.a. the Bernank, Uncle Ben, and the purveyor of "Benocide" via food inflation-- but that's a matter for another article written by a more respected and well groomed author than myself) does not print more money going forward, and the most obvious area of froth is in the technology space. The lack of any observable sanity in market valuations is reminiscent of 1999 and 2000, when anything that was public with a "dot com" at the end of its name was worth billions despite a total lack of earnings and cash flows.
The same ridiculous speculative mania has returned today among web stock investors, but this time the companies do have some earnings and cash flows. Still, the same type of frothy mania exists in technology right now as it did back then. Hedge funds, for example, are largely "long technology and short everything else." Whenever a "trade" such as this becomes this popular, the unwind is usually swift and violent. In this case, the tailwinds for a technocratic "new" society are quite strong, however. Without further adieu, I will do my part to pop the current growth bubble. The reason being is that I feel the bubbles are a major part of our economic problems. Easy money creates perverse incentives to gamble recklessly in equity markets, and with a less stock market focused economy, the world would be a better place.
Amazon (AMZN) -- Dubbed by short sellers and angry California book store owners as "Scamazon" this disruptive technology model is all the rage on Wall Street these days, as the company commands a 110X PE ratio while earnings are actually falling. The states (which are broke) are actually trying to collect tax revenue on this monster revenue growth buzzword name, which has made millions of jobs redundant and has likely led to the bankruptcy of thousands of mom and pop stores throughout the country.
Big deal-- "adapt or die" you might say, and maybe this Darwinistic view is correct on some level. In the end, however, Amazon's success at crushing all things local and small could be its undoing as state governments move toward a level playing field in which all competitors have to pay the same tax rate. Even more alarming for the technocratic AMZN longs is the fact that this "Main Street Fairness" movement may actually cause the company to grow at slower rates in the future, because of a perception (whether real or imagined) that the only people benefiting from AMZN's success are the company's founder Jeff Bezos (who is clearly a super-genius and a man who has my utmost respect), and speculators willing to pay absurd multiples for growth stocks.
Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) -- The Burrito Bubble is alive and well, it appears in shares of Chipotle Mexican Pump. This spicy organic stock market pump may eventually be dumped just as investors flushed this company's sister stock-- the almighty Netflix (NFLX)-- down the toilet with reckless abandon. Don't get me wrong, even though I have published many articles about Netflix being a pump and dump in the past, it still hurts me to see good natured and well intentioned traders lose it all when the jig is up. Like playing poker at a rigged card game, the big boys always let you win a few hands. With a PE ratio close to 50X, go ahead and take your money off the table in CMG because eventually, when all those pesky intellectual short sellers have long since covered, this stock could head back to $100 a share.
MAKO Surgical (MAKO)-- The third installment in our pumpfest series is Mako surgical. Just because you have made some money swimming with the sharks, don't think they are friendly or nice and haven't thought about eating you alive all along. That's how Wall Street works, these are low men in nice clothing who prey on the fact that a sucker is born every single minute in this country. That's why in my view you are much better off putting your money into gold, silver, diamonds, or raw land than the stock market in general right now, but I digress.
Mako doesn't have a PE ratio, because the company loses money every quarter and every year. The firm loses around $36 Million per year on a consistent basis, yet the sheeple have been herded into this pump at an ever accelerating pace. Yes, the company makes cool hip replacement and prosthesis with potential to change the game in its market and I do think the company has some potential, but at current prices the stock is a bubble. I know it's a weird concept, but a company's stock can be a horrible investment even though the business itself is sound. Stocks are not direct reflections of business value, they are subject to greed and fear and machines -- lots of greedy unfriendly machines that trade over 80% of the shares in the markets today.
Houston Petroleum (HUSA) is less of a web / tech name, but shares till look rich compared to their 3 year historical average -- the stock has doubled in the recent past. HUSA is not cheap on earnings and cash flows, yet investors seem willing to pay any price to buy this stock right now. Remember, in the stock market the law of gravity often takes hold, and what goes straight up often falls straight back down.
SINA Corporation (SINA) -- The owner of Wiebo.com, SINA corporation has been a tough short lately, but I think the downside risks far outweigh the upside potential at current levels. The company is extremely valuable and well run. I think it's amazing that in two years this management team has built Wiebo into a top 10 web destination in China, but I simply don't think that accomplishment is worth 6 or 7 billion dollars. Sina has a ton of potential, so if you are shorting this stock make sure to do so with tight stop loss orders in place. Watch for a turnaround in earnings because any sign that SINA wll return to profitability could send shares even higher from here. That said, right now there is no PE ratio because the company doesn't earn money.
Disclosure: I am short CMG, AMZN, HUSA, MAKO.