In an article on TheStreet.com, hedge fund manager James Altucher points out that no index fund or ETF provides adequate coverage of the Internet sector for long-term investors. Merrill Lynch's Internet HOLDRs (ticker: HHH), for example, is a static basket of stocks that was chosen years ago, and as a result doesn't include Google. Instead, Mr Altucher suggests that long-term investors build a do-it-yourself Internet index fund from the following stocks:
ETF investors could simply buy all the stocks in this list using a cheap online brokerage until a suitable Internet sector ETF becomes available.
The full article is here, and contains a useful discussion of why some other Internet stocks were ommitted from the basket. It's worth reading.
There's no explanation, however, of why TheStreet.com itself (ticker: TSCM) was left off the list.
Could it be that TheStreet.com is up for sale, and will therefore disappear from the Internet index in the near future? I doubt it. The company's been on the block for ages, and there are no signs of any buyers.
Could it be that Jim Cramer's stock picking record is no better than coin-flipping? No, since he still gets millions of viewers and readers.
Instead, I speculate that the ommission of TSCM from Mr Altucher's index is probably due to the excessive number of ads and plugs for subscription-based newsletters on the site, that distract readers from thoughtful content like Mr Altucher's. Unlike this post, the full article on TheStreet.com covers three Web pages, requiring the reader to click three times to read the whole thing.
(Which brings me to a thought about Internet content businesses: Someone should do an apples-to-apples comparison of page views for the publicly-traded content sites, adjusting for the attempt to goose page views by spreading articles over multiple pages.)
Then again, Mr Altucher does write:
Maybe that's the real reason TSCM wasn't included.
I didn't include niche content providers and media companies such as TheKnot.com and iVillage because although I believe some of these companies will succeed and flourish, their growth will not necessarily represent the growth in the Internet, particularly if some of the bigger players focus on these niches and try to dominate (possibly by acquiring some of the niche players).
Full disclosure: Short TSCM at the time of writing. « Any opinions expressed on the Seeking Alpha sites are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of SeekingAlpha or its management. »