Salesforce.com (CRM) -- While Cramer and the financial media are basking in the sun regarding Salesforce's latest earnings release, and the stock has risen some 40% from the recent lows, the fundamentals and valuation concerns voiced by many short sellers have not been rectified or addressed by the company. CRM is wildly expensive on cash flow, earnings, book value, and revenue. Just about every investment metric used to justify and evaluate common stock purchases suggests that CRM is a terrible investment at current levels, and I tend to agree with the math rather than the media hype and management spin campaigns.
While cloud computing is all the rage, in my view the simple move to storing data on the internet has been around for a lot longer than "new" industry leaders would lead investors to believe. This isn't a polar shift, it's simply a more efficient way of storing and managing information and projects.
Benioff has done a great job of building a business, but together with Cramer he has built a house of cards for new longs. Hopefully, reality somewhat resembles the current price level for the stock, but I have serious reservations as to the long term value of Salesforce. CRM is trading at 70X 2014 earnings estimates and has no current PE because it is not a profitable company right now. At 11X book value and 8X sales, CRM shares look to be in speculative bubble territory anywhere above $125 a share, but that is an investment thesis that could be incorrect which is why we suggest using stop loss order or options to reduce risks when selling stocks short.
Amazon.com (AMZN) -- I still think most investors today would trade stocks differently if they were in the market from 2000 to 2002, when technology shares dropped some 85% from peak to trough. Today it seems that risk management is an afterthought for most investors and traders. We are all guilty of the sins of hubris, over-trading, buying high, selling low, etc.
What makes a super-investor or trader is the same thing that makes a great poker player or gambler -- you have to know when to fold, sell, and go all in. Many times the least risky option in life is the best option, but sometimes going for the kill is equally advisable. We think investors in Amazon are going all in on the business model and are blind to the risks of the company's valuation. At 130X earnings and 10X book value, a whole lot can go wrong for new investors here. Conversely, absolutely everything has to go right for shares to continue levitating higher.
Cedar Fair (FUN) -- Cedar Fair is a stock that has risen almost 200% over a short period of time. While I'm not "calling the top," I do like to short charts like this because eventually the bears take charge when the exhaustion gaps are filled and the momentum longs, who usually raise their stops as they earn a profit, jump ship. Cedar Fair has been a great trade for many investors, but we think a sell-off is only natural, given how fast and how far this thing has run over the last year. Combine that with higher gas prices and a squeezed consumer and you have a recipe for caution in relation to hospitality/consumer discretionary investments. While we think the stock is worth 7-10X free cash flows, we don't think the increase in dividend yield is a reason to hold or buy this stock.
Nasdaq 100 (QQQ) -- While no one thinks the Q's can ever fall again, smart investors who have been around the block are increasingly skeptical regarding the quality of the current rally in the technology space. A rising tide has lifted all boats, and some of the old speculative momentum names in the QQQ are up with the companies that have delivered legitimate earnings growth. Trading at a PE of 25X, we think the QQQ is vulnerable to a sudden, swift tumble if the chart ever finally rolls over.
Russell 2000 (IWM) -- The IWM was the favorite investment indicator of Ben Bernanke back in 2010 when QE 2 was launched, but today the momentum traders friend has severely underperformed the Nasdaq 100. While the QQQ is significantly above its 2011 highs, the IWM is well below the highs of last year. While the Russell's PE ratio is higher than that of the QQQ, keep in mind that the IWM is comprised of many more unprofitable small companies that the QQQ weeds out.
In our opinion, the fair value for IWM is around $55-65 per share maximum. Look to sell bear call spreads on the IWM to hedge existing small cap long exposure if and when the overall stock indices break down. If the market does begin a 5-10% correction. put buyers will be highly rewarded, but we think the bear call spread or put spread is the smartest trade here because call premiums can be earned in sideways as well as down markets.
Morningstar.com (MORN) -- Morningstar is a fantastic company and it operates in a red hot sector, internet media. While Morningstar's barriers to entry are less high than they were ten years ago thanks to rapid advances in technology, we think the company's existing business is strong enough to hang in there over the long run. That said, the current rich valuations of the stock make investing in MORN a risky proposition. Since our last article on MORN shares have completely flat lined while the overall market is up some 15%. While we often get things wrong, we feel that 31X earnings is simply too rich a multiple to put on this web 1.0 company.